Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Droughts could push parts of Africa back into famine

Drought and erratic rains could lead to further food scarcities in Africa warns the United Nations World Food Program (WFP). The WFP singles out South Sudan, the world's newest nation, and Niger as nations of particular concern. Earlier this year famine killed scores of people, including an estimated 30,000 children, in Somalia. In South Sudan drought and ongoing conflict threaten food supplies for 2.7 million people.

"A gathering storm of hunger is approaching South Sudan, caused by crop failure and market disruption," said WFP director in South Sudan, Chris Nikoi. "Food prices have already doubled or tripled in some areas, leaving hundreds of thousands of children vulnerable to malnutrition at a key developmental stage of their young lives." 

The WFP states it is upping operations to feed more people in the new nation in 2012, but warns that lack of infrastructure and land mines makes travel difficult. It says it needs emergency funds of nearly $100 million for food services in South Sudan for the first quarter of 2012.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Indian land grab in Africa

Joining the neo-colonial bandwagon, Indian companies are taking over agricultural land in African nations and exporting produced food at the cost of locals

Indian companies venturing abroad is always regarded as a healthy trend, an indicator of India’s new-found economic status. But little is known about how these companies are flexing their imperalistic muscles in poorer countries, grabbing the land and giving little in return. A report ‘India’s Role in the New Global Farmland Grab’ by researcher Rick Rowden brings forth these atrocities which are shockingly similar to what India used to blame rich western countires for.

Joiing the race with China, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, South Korea and the European Union, Indian and Indian-owned companies are acquiring land in Africa at throwaway prices, indulging in enviornmental damange and exporting the food while locals continue to starve. The origin of this unhealthy practice can be traced back to the food crisis of 2008 when rich countries were forced to confront the reality of how fragile the global food scenario can be, especially for those without sufficient cultivable land. To ensure more direct control over food, these countries started acquiring land in poorer African countries and shipping the produce back home. A recent World Bank report found that 45 million hectares of large scale farmland deals had been announced between 2008 and 2009. More

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

New solutions needed to improve food security in Gulf

JEDDAH: Economic analysts and experts say the world's major threats of population growth, climate change and natural disasters, which have led to food shortage and an increase in food prices, will consequently endanger food security in the Gulf.

The issue of food security in the GCC countries has become alarming with the rapid growth in global population, harsh climatic changes and natural disasters that have affected food-exporting countries — especially those in East Asia. All these factors together led to raising average food prices by 30-40 percent, amid expectations that prices will continue to increase at record levels over the next five years.     

If these challenges are still a distant reality for GCC countries, this does not mean the Gulf region is immune against their effects. The picture of any impact on the Gulf region can be seen clearly and strongly through food imports.

The GCC countries export about 70 percent — 80 percent to secure its food needs, and this figure rises to be around 100 percent with the export of basic food commodities for traditional Gulf daily dishes. More