Monday, March 31, 2008
Rice is the staple food of about half humankind and it's beginning to be in short supply. As analyzed by Al Jazeera in 'Asian rice crisis starts to bite', the situation can be very difficult for certain countries like Philippines, where uncontrolled population growth has run parallel to loss of farming lands.
Until now rice was cheap and easily available but in the last weeks many exporters, like Vietnam or Cambodia have imposed restrictions with the intent of securing food for their own populations. Countries like affluent Japan that have a strategic food policy, purchasing and storing rice every year, should face no problem at least in the short term but others like Philippines, poor and with no food planning whatsoever, may be brought to the brink of disaster.
And most revolutions began with hungry desperate people.
Anyhow, the problems caused by more expensive food prices will not just affect a handful of countries, nor just those whose diet gravitates around rice. The recent confrontations in Argentine about food export taxes are clearly motivated by greedy landowners wanting to get more from the current speculative state of affairs of global food markets. Food is every day more expensive everywhere: some, the most affluent ones, can maybe take from other consumptions to make sure they do not get hungry but that will affect other sectors of the economy that will see their demand plumetting.