World Food Supply Causing Concern

World food supply is shrinking, UN agency warns.

In an "unforeseen and unprecedented" shift, the world food supply is dwindling rapidly and food prices are soaring to historic levels, the United Nations’ top food and agriculture official warns in a New York Times report.

Jacques Diouf, head of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, tells the Times that the changes create "a very serious risk that fewer people will be able to get food," particularly in the developing world.

The agency’s food price index rose by more than 40% this year, compared with 9% the year before — a rate that was already unacceptable, Diouf says. New figures show that the total cost of food imported by the neediest countries rose to $107, an increase of 25% in the last year.

At the same time, reserves of cereals are severely depleted, the agency’s records show. World wheat stores declined 11% this year to the lowest level since 1980. That corresponds with 12 weeks of the world’s total consumption, much less than the average of 18 weeks’ consumption, in storage during the 2000-05 period.

There are only 8 weeks of corn left, down from 11 weeks in the same five-year period.

Prices of wheat and oilseeds are at record highs, says Diouf. Wheat prices have risen by $130 a ton, or 52%, since a year ago. U.S. wheat futures broke $10 a bushel for the first time recently, a psychological milestone.

Diouf tells the Times that the crisis is a result of a confluence of recent supply and demand factors that are here to stay.

According to the New York Times report, on the supply side, the early effects of global warming have decreased crop yields in some crucial places. So has a shift away from farming for human consumption to crops for biofuels and cattle feed. Demand for grain is increasing as the world’s population grows and more is diverted to feed cattle as the population of upwardly mobile meat-eaters grows.

"We’re concerned that we are facing the perfect storm for the world’s hungry," says Josette Sheeran, executive director of the World Food Program. She adds that her agency’s food procurement costs had gone up 50% in the last 5 years and that some poor people were being "priced out of the food market."

To make matters worse, high oil prices have doubled shipping costs in the last year, putting stress on poor nations that need to import food and the humanitarian agencies that provide it.

Climate specialists say the poor’s vulnerability will only increase, the Times report states.

"If there’s a significant change in climate in one of our high production areas, if there is a disease that affects a major crop, we are in a very risky situation," says S. Mark Howden of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in Canberra, Australia. Already "unusual weather events," linked to climate change — like drought, floods and storms — have decreased production in important exporting countries like Australia and Ukraine, Diouf says. In southern Australia, a significant reduction in rainfall in the last few years led some farmers to sell their land and move to Tasmania, where water is more reliable, says Howden, one of the authors of a recent series of papers on climate change and the world food supply, published in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"In the U.S., Australia, and Europe, there’s a very substantial capacity to adapt to the effects on food — with money, technology, research, and development. In the developing world, there isn’t," says Sheeran.

In the Times report, Diouf suggests that all countries and international agencies will have to "revisit" agricultural and aid policies they adopted "in a different economic environment." For example, with food and oil prices approaching records, it may not make sense to send food aid to poorer countries, but instead to focus on helping farmers grow food locally.

The food organization plans to start a new initiative that will offer farmers in poor countries vouchers that can be redeemed for seeds and fertilizer and will try to help them adapt to climate change.

(Source: New York Times)
 

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories
Seed/BiotechAgrilead Forms Distribution Alliance With Kansas-Based KALO
May 27, 2015
Agrilead, Inc. announces the formation of a strategic alliance with KALO, Inc. of Overland Park, KS. Through the alliance, KALO Read More
Syngenta Sign
Eric SfiligojMonsanto-Syngenta Could Hinge On A Judgment Of Solomon Inspired Solution
May 26, 2015
In the bible, the reputation of King Solomon’s wisdom in matters of despite comes from a tale of one child Read More
StewardshipBayer Entomologist Issues Statement On Annual Honeybee Losses
May 13, 2015
Richard (Dick) Rogers, Principal Scientist / Entomologist, Bayer Bee Care Center for Bayer CropScience LP, today issued the following statement Read More
Monsanto Sign
Eric SfiligojThe Cat & Mouse Game Between Syngenta And Monsanto Begins
May 11, 2015
Last week, I talked about how two crop protection industry giants, Syngenta and Monsanto, had engaged in some acquisition discussions. Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100The Andersons Acquires South Dakota Plant Nutrient Manufacturer Kay-Flo
May 20, 2015
The Andersons, Inc., ranked No. 22 on the CropLife 100, has purchased Kay Flo Industries of North Sioux City, SD. “This Read More
CropLife 100North Central Farmers Elevator, Wheat Growers Unification Approved By Board, Still Awaits Member Approval
May 13, 2015
The Boards of Directors for North Central Farmers Elevator (NCFE) and Wheat Growers (WG) have voted to approve the Unification Read More
CropLife 100AgGateway’s Barcoding Initiative Progressing Nicely
May 8, 2015
According to legend (or Wikipedia), the first step towards modern bar codes came back in 1948, when Bernard Silver, a Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Acquires Minnesota Retailer
April 14, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC, ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100,  has successfully acquired Liebl Ag, LLC in Ada, MN.  Read More
CropLife 100CHS, Aurora Cooperative Complete Fertilizer Storage, Grain Shuttle Loading Facility
April 13, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading cooperative and ranked No. 5 on the CropLife 100, and Aurora Cooperative (ranked No. 21) Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Acquires Missouri Refined Fuels Terminal
April 2, 2015
Bloomington, IL-based GROWMARK and Magellan Pipeline Co. have entered into an agreement in which GROWMARK will acquire the refined fuels Read More
Latest News
Bayer CropScience, ILeVO
Crop InputsISU: ‘Halo Effect’ From ILeVO Soybean Seed …
May 28, 2015
Farmers who were lucky enough to plant soybeans and spray pre-emergence herbicides in between rain events may now be seeing Read More
ManagementCorn Planting/Monsanto-Syngenta Update; New PrecisionAg…
May 28, 2015
Eric Sfiligoj and Paul Schrimpf give updates on corn planting progress, the latest on Monsanto-Syngenta rumors and preview a brand Read More
Waterhemp in soybean stubble
HerbicidesEPA Signs Off On Monsanto’s Warrant Ultra Premix
May 27, 2015
Soybean and cotton growers looking for new tools to manage weeds will have a new, first-of-its-kind option in 2016 with Read More
Palmer pigweed seedhead in cotton
HerbicidesSTUDY: Weed Diversity Primarily Influenced By Geography
May 27, 2015
The potential long-term impacts of glyphosate-resistant crops on biodiversity of the agricultural landscape have been the subject of controversy. A Read More
Seed/BiotechAgrilead Forms Distribution Alliance With Kansas-Based …
May 27, 2015
Agrilead, Inc. announces the formation of a strategic alliance with KALO, Inc. of Overland Park, KS. Through the alliance, KALO Read More
EquipmentPrecision Tank Announces A&B Welding Acquisition
May 27, 2015
Precision Tank, a specialized tank and equipment manufacturer, announced today the acquisition of A&B Welding of Thompson, IA, a manufacturer Read More
Allied Cooperative Grain Plant
ManagementTraining Program Gives First Responders Skills For Grai…
May 27, 2015
When stored grain forms hard bridges, columns and other irregularities, those working to correct it find themselves at risk of Read More
Industry NewsBASF Sponsors Space Farming Research Project
May 26, 2015
Is it possible to produce large quantities of high quality vegetables on a space station, about 320 kilometers away from Read More
FertilizerTexas Ammonium Nitrate Bill Passes Senate, Heads To Gov…
May 26, 2015
The Texas State Senate gave final approval last Thursday to new regulations for ammonium nitrate, reports The Dallas Morning News Read More
Young corn plants
Industry NewsArysta Europe Details New Organizational Structure
May 26, 2015
Arysta LifeScience Europe recently announced a new organizational structure to leverage its scale and accelerate the company’s growth in this Read More
Syngenta Sign
Eric SfiligojMonsanto-Syngenta Could Hinge On A Judgment Of Solomon …
May 26, 2015
In the bible, the reputation of King Solomon’s wisdom in matters of despite comes from a tale of one child Read More
ManagementA New Sprayer Company & UAV Research In The Spotlig…
May 21, 2015
CropLife’s Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about a Dutch sprayer manufacturer entering the U.S. with a super-sized entry and Read More
HerbicidesFirst U.S. Sale Of Enlist Duo Herbicide Made By Dow Agr…
May 21, 2015
Dow AgroSciences has recorded the first U.S. sale of Enlist Duo herbicide with Colex-D Technology. This marks the first commercial Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Acquires South Dakota Plant Nutrient Manu…
May 20, 2015
The Andersons, Inc., ranked No. 22 on the CropLife 100, has purchased Kay Flo Industries of North Sioux City, SD. “This Read More
EquipmentNORAC Options Coming To TerraGator
May 19, 2015
Utilizing NORAC’s Standard Control technology, boom height control is now available for TerraGators with Airmax Precision 2 and Benson Booms. This Read More
Crop InputsHelena Introduces New Soil Health Product
May 19, 2015
Helena Chemical Co. is helping agricultural producers maximize yields and efficiency with the introduction of Liquid Chisel, a new product Read More
Stewardship4R Nutrient Management Planning Certification Now Avail…
May 19, 2015
The American Society of Agronomy (ASA) and the International Certified Crop Adviser (ICCA) program announce a new specialty certification in Read More
Environmental Defense Fund logo
Paul SchrimpfEnvironmental Defense Fund: Appreciating Partners
May 19, 2015
I WAS deep in the throes of preparation for the Commodity Classic meeting that took place this past February, trying Read More