According to Oxfam, a UK-based charitable organisation, our world is capable of feeding everyone. So then why do one in seven people on earth go hungry every day?
The icreasing scarcity of food worldwide has led to extensive study on why the world food supplies are dwindling. Climate change and the shrinking land and water resources because of rapid human development and globalisation are the obvious contributing factors. This of course impacts the food prices. No wonder that Oxfam has warned, that by 2030, approximately within the next twenty years, food prices will double. A staggering increase in the average cost of key crops is expected to go up between 120 and 180 per cent. Not (surprisingly, half of that increase in cost will be due to climate change.
The Oxfam report titled, ‘Growing a Better Future’ lists four areas as “food insecurity hotspots”, namely Guatemala, India, Azerbaijan and East Africa. These countries are facing a host of related issues that include food shortages because of drought and weather, extremely high food prices due to shortage of production at home and reliance on imported foodstuff and the lack of state investment in smallholder farmers.
In order to combat further deterioration in the global food system, the world powers need to actively improve regulation of food markets. A rehaul of their financial and agricultural policies and investment in a global climate fund to fight climate change should top priorities. Inevitably, the food shortages have contributed to a rise in prices and a consequent rise in poverty. How poverty affects a state economy as the biggest drain on its socio-economic sector is a well-established fact and needs no elaboration. There are many examples of poverty afflicted states that in this modern day and age lag far behind in developing their human resource because of the crippling impact of poverty.
It is time the leaders of the developed nations and the fast developing world economies understand the repercussions of procrastination on the issue of climate change. Year after year, the international seminars on the environment have only highlighted the differences and reluctance of states on issues such as cutting carbon emissions in fear of slowing down the pace of industrialisation. While these seminars provide a platform for the meaningless lip service in the wake of a reiteration of the world’s deteriorating environment, they have failed to provide a cohesive and united environmental policy.
A global climate fund is aimed at enabling people to protect themselves from the impact of climate change and be able to grow the food they need. Environmentalists and NGO’s have been urging the world leaders to launch this much needed initiative at the forthcoming UN Summit on Climate in South Africa this December.
Whether this materialises or not, the need to take immediate steps to increase food production and adopting remedial policies to reverse climate change must not be relegated to the backburner. This world cannot afford to go hungry.
Courtesy Khaleej Times