Saturday, April 12, 2008

Global food shortage?

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

The past couple of years or so have seen a steady increase in once stable food prices in Saudi Arabia but lately we have seen vegetable and staple food prices jumping in price and the past couple of months has seen some very drastic price increases or food shortages. One friend living in Jeddah remarked that she was having difficulty finding flour. News channels and websites have been reporting about global food shortages caused by a variety of factors including urabanisation which leaves less arable land, growing middle classes in developing countries making greater demand on a variety of foods, the use of wheat as a bio-fuel and so forth...

Here are some interesting articles from the bbc website to ponder.

Rice prices 'to keep on rising'

The price of rice has risen by as much as 70% during the past year, with
increases accelerating in recent weeks...
...and prices are set to keep on rising.

The growing appetite among Asia's burgeoning urban middle class, especially in
India and China, for meat and dairy products is also leading to less land for
rice production.

In a bid to solve food problems in India, India has implemented a rice export ban on all non-Basmati rice which is having repercussions in the Middle East since rice is also very widely eaten here. Prices are risely quite drastically (Asian states feel rice pinch) and some goverments are subsidising rice and some companies are helping by selling rice at cost price. But for how long can they sustain this?

Gulf and Arab residents feel the pinch of rising prices

The cost of food: facts and figures

Families' shopping list

On top of all this there is a warning about a potential water shortage in the coming decades if the Middle East does not start tackling the problem of water wastage.

Interesting to note that 1000-2000 litres of water are needed to produce just 1 kilo of wheat and 10,000-13,000 litres of water are needed to produce 1 kilo of beef. *

11 comments:

Muneeb Saeed said...

Among one of the reasons for the crop shortages is tht some farmers are now growing corn instead of what used to.
They are looking for more profit selling the corn to ethanol plants.
interesting fact: it takes x amount of energy to produce x amount of ethanol.
:S

Aafke said...

I heard this on the dutch news too. It;s also a problem that many countries produce wheat while that is not an indiginous plant, and the land and climate are not really suitable, but wheat is more ''fashionable'' than traditional crops.

Mina said...

I totally agree with you ukti...

I was just discussing this with my mum and aunties today, as to how much rice and other products are costing these days and how its affecting people, and not to mention the whole fair trade issue now thats something thats really messed up.

HijabIsOverrated said...

My husband just mentioned this to me a last week before. I'd figure with India being so close flour, and rice exports to closer countries would remain the same while exports to Europe and America would suffer greatly but would save them in fuel, and tariffs. It would also allow them to stockpile some degree of rice for their own pll.

This is very troubling

American Muslima Writer said...

Disturbing obviously! Hmm I think i need to go stockpile... how long does rice last? I don't use flour too much so no worries there for me but rice...hmm yeah i better go shopping soon.
World is full of interconnection these days but I liked how it says the Middle East's reactions were feared and we are a main concern.
Great topic.
By the way it's OBSCENE how much water UAE uses to water their artifically put flowers and plants all over the country. Every few weeks I see new flowers planted hooked to a sprinkler system. Ok it's beautiful but how much water is all that grass and flowers consuming? This is a desert climate and should have native desert plants that use less water for decor. I'm from Desert of Arizona USA so belive me natural water saving landscaping is the way to go there. Pathetic really the excesses they are giong into here while peole starve.

Stranger in this Dunya said...

Assalaamu alaikum,

You are so on the same page as me AMW! I live on a compound and people spraying water all over the road and insisting on having grassy back gardens in full summer (which need to be watered AT LEAST once a day) drive me crazy. :X I refuse to put a load of non-indigenous plants in the garden and will still with the wonderful Bougainvillea (see pics in earlier post) which doesn't care if I water it or not!

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Jams said...

Yes, this is very disturbing no matter where you live. Naturally the effects are different here and there, but in any case I think the problems are just starting..

HijabIsOverrated said...

My Husband just got a job offer in Riyadh. The benefits package has the company providing for a villa at the Dorrat Al Jadawel, Riyadh compound. I was wondering is this a nice compound, are there things to do there, and is it mostly military personel?

Stranger in this Dunya said...

Computerdores: thank you! :-)

hijabisoverrated: To be honest, I don't know. I will ask around and see if anyone I know, knows anything about Jedawel. If you email me at the contact on my profile page, it will be easier to get back to you. :) Couldn't find a contact on your blog.

UmmLayla said...

I was just reading about this food thing on the internet because I heard about it on the radio. It seems that one of the problems with the wheat is a type of rust is killing something like 75% of this year's crop worldwide, it was around last season but only in limited areas worldwide... So this is only the beginning, it could be worse next year. Of course they COULD just stop paying farmers not to farm their land here in the US... Or diversify the crops a little instead of growing ONLY a limited number of engineered strains of everything... Or STOP burning food in the gas tank of Americas SUVs... But I digress;)