World Food Situation- No need for alarm

Food situation in the world in general and in Africa in particular is not as alarming as the protests against food grain prices in several countries, as also the warnings by FAO economists suggest. Low production is a very serious matter which defies solutions but price increase is not impossible to be tackled by increasing/extending subsidies, loans etc. While main food grain producing countries have witnessed slight decline of less than 1.5% in production,(less than 10% of carry forward stock) most of the African countries like Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Malawi, Niger, Somalia, Uganda, Zimbabwe etc. have recorded higher production in 2010 than in the previous year. Higher prices in 2010 for food grains are likely to lead to a higher production in 2011, as farmers will be encouraged to try to produce more, by higher income. The lower production of food grains in main producing countries will only mean lower stocks being carried forward to the next year and not non-availability of food grains.

It is also heartening to note that wages in most of the African countries have increased during the last few years and thus people have more money to meet the higher food grain prices. It is also pleasing to note that among the 20 fastest growing economies in the world, as many as 11 are in Africa. In other world, out of 53 African countries, 11 are witnessing very high economic growth rates. (Among the 140 non-African countries, only 9 are witnessing high growth rates.). Thus, the people will be able to absorb the higher prices without much difficulty.

From the long term view also, India alone has the potential to double its production of food grains from about 225 million tonnes to 450 million tonnes. If India achieves just 50% of its additional food grain production potential, the world will not have food insecurity at all. Even without bringing in additional land under cultivation, Africa has the potential to double its production, as its yield is very low. What is required is substantial investment in irrigation projects.

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