How is the global food crisis affecting you?

We’ve talked about the global food crisis a few times here – and yesterday it was described as a “silent tsunami” – but as is often the way with crises, it shows no signs of going away. Is it already affecting you ?

Leaders in Latin America  and West Africa have been setting up funds in an effort to boost their own countries’ food production – the aim is to raise production of staple foods to tackle the problem of rising world food prices. We’d like to hear how you are affected by these price rises and whether you are finding that you just can’t get the foods you normally buy.  
Newshour is discussing the issue later today.


22 Responses to “How is the global food crisis affecting you?”

  1. 1 Maxwell
    April 24, 2008 at 11:50

    We have a year-and-half old baby whose feeding has become increasing expensive over the last few months and thank God my wife had a job just last month. I would have been in debt by now just because of the high increases in the prices of food stuff for my small family. We cannot support dependants from the extented family.
    The effect in Africa is so bad because the petty traders who control most of the supply of food and other goods don’t understand the economics of price increases and prices of all other goods are increased without discremination. These are exceptionally hard times for being an African : high food prices, high petroleum prices, high prices for unrealible electricity and water, high cost of elections (human lives), high inflation and now lack of election results.

    Maxwell O. Ansah
    Accra, Ghana.

  2. April 24, 2008 at 12:18

    I actually blogged on this a bit with the proposition at some restaurants of limiting or taking away complimentary bread, rolls and the like.

    As far as it directly hitting me, prices have risen which hasn’t put me in too much of a bind…yet… Being vegetarian is cheaper anyways so I’m ahead of the game 🙂 Hopefully my garden will do well this year which will alleviate some of the increase in food prices.

    What struck me as odd is that in the 2 weeks between buying dog food for my puppies, dog food went up by more than $2.00 for a 44lb bag. I haven’t seen an increase over a dollar or so before.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  3. 3 steve
    April 24, 2008 at 12:53

    I was at Costco last night and they actually limit how many bags of rice you can buy. I remember hearing last year there was a lentil shortage. Still, no shortage of all those wonderful, unhealthy foods out there here. My worst fears is that if prices go up, the economy tanks, more people will be relying on the McDonalds Dollar menu, meaning people will still need massive SUVs to transport their obese bodies to the drive thru window.

  4. 4 Katharina in Ghent
    April 24, 2008 at 13:09

    Hm… let’s see: Milk went up from 99 cents to 1.23 Euros per liter, bread increased by about 30 cents, meat not so much (yet), depending on what you by. (Some of the nicer pieces have gone up quite dramatically.) We try to live on 120 Euros per week (family of three), and lately this has meant that the occasional goodies such as salmon steaks or duck breasts have become out of our league. We shop in three different stores to get the cheapest prices, but still we are bringing less and less home and are more likely to eat the leftovers for lunch at work the next day.

    So, to summarize, I would say that we’re still far away from going hungry, but there is less variety and I have to find new recipes to make the same old stuff taste different… quite a challenge.


  5. April 24, 2008 at 13:45

    Morocco is largely a dry country with most of its surface is a desert. Thanks to the building of dams, it has managed to keep farming going for major food products, except for wheat, of which it has had to import 80% of it due to poor harvest last year. Like many countries, its price at the local markets has more than doubled.

    But food in Morocco takes a great portion of families’ income reaching the average of 40%. Currently there are threats of continuous strikes unless there is a pay increase, especially for those with a low income. There are still rounds of talks between there government and trade unions to agree on the measures to be taken.

    Morocco decided to dedicate up to USD 2Bn per annum to fund agricultural projects, as part of Morocco’s new plan to promote the agriculture sector’s competitiveness. http://www.map.ma/eng/sections/box5/morocco_dedicates_up/view . If this plan succeeds, it can alleviate food supply problems in Morocco to meet growing demands of the increasing population.

    Unless, food prices are stabilised, the risks of social tensions will keep looming. People can cope with being deprived of some luxuries, but can’t remain patient when they are hit in their basic necessities.

    Abdelilah Boukili
    Marrakesh, Morocco

  6. 6 Sandra Patricia, Colombia
    April 24, 2008 at 15:57

    Hi! 🙂

    In Colombia we’re having a strong impact in the prices of food: fruits, vegetagles, meat, etc. In this country we have large amounts of production of every kind of food, but because of the weather conditions, the happily frustrated Free trade Agreement with the US and the food crisis, today we have to spend more than two years ago to pay for food. This is a shame, considering that, because of that, much food is being wasted…

    Greetings from Colombia! 😛

  7. 7 Mohammed Ali
    April 24, 2008 at 15:59

    The food crisis may soon lead to a global warfare.

  8. 8 Leonet Reid- Jamaica
    April 24, 2008 at 17:24

    In Jamaica we are gradually feeling the food shortage crisis. The price of bread, flour and dairy has sky rocketed. People are finding it hard to struggle to put food on their children’s table. As ridiculous as it sounds, the price of ground provisions are more expensive than meat produce. Also the price of corn base products have doubled not if tripled! At the same time, public workers have not gotten any increase in their pays to help them coping with the high cost of living. Over the past few years i have seen a huge increase in the amount of money needed to commute, eat and attend school daily. Life in Jamaica is hard, the social divide is widening where the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer.

  9. 9 Mark Sandell
    April 24, 2008 at 18:26

    John on e-mail.

    “Did I just hear you read a comment from a listener associating obesity with SUVs and fast food drive-through lanes? Disregard this letter if I’m mistaken, because I’m finding this hard to believe, perhaps I confused you with my local station, but if not, read on.

    On the WHYS blog, in response to the question of rising food prices, one person suggested converting obese people into Soylent Green. This rightly generated indignant replies to the insensitivity, specifically, of the person who posted the comment, and generally, on the ignorance of the contributing factors of obesity, and how that leads to cruel prejudice against those who suffer from it.

    Do you read your own blog? Because in light of this discussion, I find it irresponsible of you to read such a stereotype-reinforcing comment on air. I expect this from your listeners, and on a blog where any of them can post, but if that’s the sort of thing you choose to highlight out of all the comments you receive, Sony has given their listener participation award to the wrong people.

    I hope the awards haven’t been presented yet. To accept collective responsibility for this gross little faux pas, you should leave your “posh frocks and bow ties” to your closets and attend this glam affair dressed as best as you can be in common potato sacks. And explain publicly why you have chosen to do so.

    John D. Augustine
    Milwaukee, WI USA

  10. 10 Mark Sandell
    April 24, 2008 at 18:29

    I have to be honest John, this rings no bells with me . Anyone else ?

  11. 11 Nge Valentine
    April 24, 2008 at 21:28


    Teach me how to fish instead of giving me fish every day. In a country like mine where we were not thought how to fish we ourselves, you can imagine how the food crises takes groud even if you are not part of it. In Congo, our colonial masters did not learn us how to work, so here the population buys food from january to january on daily bases. That means the slightest inflamation of food stock on the market is being felt very seriously.

    I am a student depending on my parents financialy. Here in Katanga, RD Congo, we are using dollars more than our own currency, the reason why we are always the first victims of inflamation. The price of goods have trippled, I am oblarged to live a poorer life because I was already poor, right to the extend of breaking with my girl friend because will not be able to procure her small needs as is the case here in africa. I go to school on foot, and with all these abstinence I can then have some extra money for my alimentation.

    Yes, this is the impact of the food in my life for I have to feed myself well in order to study well.
    Nge Valentine

  12. 12 vijay
    April 25, 2008 at 07:04

    Mark Sandell
    John on email was taking about steves remarks for the April 17th show

  13. 13 Gerard Voon
    April 25, 2008 at 19:06

    There is a rice shortage in the MIddleeast and Asia and South Asia and South East Asia – We in North America buy rice from places like Thailand where rice exports are being curbed. China and India have huge number of mouths to feed, not to mention the snow storm that hit parts of China. Hungry Haitians have forced their President to quit. Even China which traditionally have been heavy handed with dissidents has freed a onganizer of rice protesters. The Phillippino Americans have even taken to sending rice back to their families back in the Phillipines.

    Why it the rice shortage has not hit America I’m not sure, perhaps its because we still have a decent sized inventory of the product. Or maybe in America we supplement rice with other grains such as wheat and America has much land for bread basket.

    Worldwide rising food costs are kind of like worldwide inflation of food prices. All curriencies don’t stretch as far relative to the price of food.

    The first step is for governments to zone land for agriculture. Capacity (nutritional survival) is the key – by filling everybody’s

    It may not get any better for years. I can’t quite see how we the richer nations can afford to support the (hungry fellow human beings – where the food crisis are most impact – people straving).

    We need to:

    1. Plant all the corn/rice/wheat/potatoes as we can.

    (The ladder to sustainability: Water, food, shelter and education/jobs).

    2. Unfortunately we in order to save lives we need to help the hungry eat for a period of time until they are able to work and pay for their food again. The problem is who do you sell or give the food to (criteria – sell to those who can pay the highest price – capitalism versus give food to the most in need).

    3. To produce such huge crops to feed the world Canada (of which our competitors for farming is Australia – had a drought and forest fires) has escaped any really serious calamities. Canada should plough all the land available. For example the pine beetle dead forest, could be ploughed over and corn grown. It would be foolish to count out Australia though as they are perhaps the most industrious people I have ever seen.

    I like corn because you have two of the hottest markets 1. bio fuels – clean and becoming more affordable relative to petroleum; 2. food for the hungry…

  14. 14 Gerard Voon
    April 26, 2008 at 00:41

    I am not trying to boast but I have given up my working income since last week (at least 80% per day) and to the end of this week (inspired by Ghandi) – to donate to our fellow citizens of the World – who aren’t able to meet their basic need for survival.

    Some people may call me hypocrytical, but I’m trying contribute on my part.

    God Bless

  15. 15 Mia-California,USA
    April 27, 2008 at 21:30

    I’ve read most replies and I feel nearly speechless. It seems like saving the world has become much like trying to catch a water filled balloon that is covered in soap. NAFTA, global warming, water shortages, conventional fossil fuel farming, severe land change for rasing livestock or ‘fuel fields’…have all proven to fail. It seems we’ve taken the world to a point of sure doom. Even the Americans who almost never feel the tremers of the rest of the world are feeling this. No we’re not all starving, but we can’t just pick up whatever we like at the store…like rice and lentils. And the price of gas has made it difficult to get to the store in the first place. I live in a city apartment, but I’ve potted tomato plants and they are growing in organic compost on my porch. There are also places to rent land plots for farming. I shop at farmer’s market each week…the prices are high, but small organic farmers may be our last hope. I’d rather support them then take food being exported from countries who need it more. I don’t know if the Farm Bill has been completed yet…but I hope for meat to not be subsidized anymore, sustainable farmers to be rewarded, and for more GMO crops to be denounced as a way of solving the food crisis. We are such waistfull beings which is destoying the world which we depend on. I urge everyone to look into the benefits of organic farming and veganism. Also America is far behind in public transportation and continues to look highly apon multiple oversized and overpowered vehicles for each family. I wish more people would turn off the TV realizing that there is nothing to keep a newscaster from lying to you and in fact there are only 5 major media corporations who own the worlds media…who also sit on the boards of other wealthy corporations. Please do research and you will find how individual thoughtless actions are destroying our world.

  16. 16 Gerard Voon
    April 27, 2008 at 23:49

    Dear Mia,

    Your life sound very idyllic.

    Intrestingly enough I have patented the absolute greenest technology for producing energy and in the long run is cheaper than petrol and perhaps petrol.

    It would help if governments showed more support for our technology instead of pushing through other higher costing (environmental – affecting our quality of living and long run variable input costs).

    What I don’t understand is why our governments are even (and showing favourites to such costly and dangerous) looking at Nuclear the most dangerous of all – accident to happen; Petroleum – danger of spills and also refining is a polluter non renewable; windmills are expensive and kill birds; tidal can kill fish and also expensive; and solar are (as I understand) still not economical until production reaches critical mass, also can potentially be vandilized – furthermore my gravity technology can be built anywhere even underground, while solar need sun all the time to be feasible…Furthermore windmills and tidal power are dependent on the seemingly randon whims of wind and tide circulation. Hydro dams destroy fish wild habitat.

    My technology will take the place of the largest energy polluter power (utility) plants and carbon CO2 and carbonmonoxide vehicles (conversion to hybrids to use my technology’s electricity). Since my technology has zero effulent and produces electricity directly.

  17. April 28, 2008 at 09:20

    Our food shortage in Cameroon is compounded by the absence of domestic cooking gas. I have now resorted to eating in restaurants and local joints.

  18. 18 Gerard Voon
    April 28, 2008 at 18:04

    Re: Cooking Gas,

    With both my technologies you could cook with the cleanest energy generators (both have their advantages). Is Cameroon in Africa, what we need is government support and the cooperation of the World Bank and IMF and African Bank (I know there is an African equavalient I just forgot the name) (to co-finance the initial large development project which in the long term is cheapest). To help the poorest who can’t afford electricity and some localities that by the nature of being a slum have no utilities infrastructure.

    JUst like there are a few drug companies that if co-financed by the World Bank are willing to provide their products to developing nations at a chaeper price, so are we willing to provide energy to slums for lower prices.

  19. 19 Catherine L.
    April 30, 2008 at 07:57

    What I don’t understand is how the rise of food prices has become a world epidemic because its affecting countries in every continent. Was the farming bad this year that china couldn’t produce enough rice?
    And I would have to agree only in america can u have so much to eat that you are overweight – I speak from experience. I thought this was the governments way of allowing us to cut down on our consumerism -but the fact countries in africa are having their food raised is making me wonder if the global economy is slowing down. And I would have to blame the top countries for this because whatever they’re doing, its taking an affect on the rest of the world some way or another. Could it have anythign to do with the iraq war?

    From the point of view of an asian- american teenager, my family isn’t starving. But its true we’re more selective with what we buy at the store now. We still buy organic milk and everything and they cost like $4 each and puppy foods have also risen as well! We’re also unplugging appliances like toasters and cell phone chargers when we’re not using them becuase they use up electricity when they’re plugged in. Its little things like that that make us do things more efficiently and carefully. I don’t find it annoying as long as its going to benefit the environment in the long run. Because I’m also hearing the feds are allowing a nuclear plant to be built in new jersey. We all know how powerful nuclear power is and just in 10th grade chemistry I learned if a nuclear power plant leaked -God forbid- it’ll be very dangerous and potentially deathly. I especially don’t want to risk it since I live in jersey!

    On another thought, its funny because my friend grows organic tomatoes in his garden I guess its the thing now. I would much prefer if society was built that way so that big corporations don’t exist and small businesses prospered. Because then we’d all live healthy and we’d all still have money in our pockets

  20. 20 Gerard Voon
    April 30, 2008 at 17:08

    Dear Catherine,

    The you have part of the picture. The bizarre weather is on factor, snow storm in China, droughts in Australia and Africa.

    Some of the drivers of food prices in our present case that you missed include:

    1. competing for supply inputs to agriculture, for usage for making bio fuel, eg. clean water, clean air, clean soil and rising potash prices.

    2. I believe storms/accidents hitting the petroleum refineries (some linkage to power farming and also ethanol refining).

    3. Rising demand for livestock (meat – increasingly affluent citizens of developing nations ar developing the palate for) that must eat grain which competes for the same inputs of production as rice/wheat and potatoes.

    My idea is that (of which I have submitted ti the UN) is that nations like China, India, Korea, where land, water and air are very polluted could grow corn for ethanol at cheap prices (their workers also can work for less money – although if they benchmark it against their past incomes the money they will make from producing rice when rice in such high demand will make them more money). If the pay is enpugh, some of the factory workers may even go back to working the farms.

    Anyway back to my idea – the ethonal is produced in these countries and then they ship to North America, where we buy their ethanol and we sell them our corn/wheat/rice/potatoes grown on our own clean air, water and soil for their consuption, ore at least supplement based on their affordability…

  21. 21 nksood
    May 7, 2008 at 22:32

    Mr. Gerard Voon wrote some very interesting lines on April 26.The words’ food crisis’ carry different meanings to different people inhabiting this planet.For the Bush administration it might mean costlier meat while EU might complain of costlier Bread & butter.For an Indian/Chinese it might mean costlier staple diets viz rice & fish or wheat flour and dal or vegetable and other regional foods.The question naturally arises as to what could have lead to this global dissatisfaction.
    In India at least the cause of dissatisfaction is soaring food prices and the resultant inflation.In view of the global meltdown in share prices indicating inflationary tendencies it appears reasonable to assume that food is not in short supply in general but it has started slipping out of common man’s budget i.e.if we exlcude those countries/people who have perennially been living below poverty line meaning that such people of developing countries who earn so little that they can barely manage to eat only the wheat floor & common salt and have sometime to go without that too,others have started to feel the pinch too.Does it not mean mismanagement of regional economic & political policies?
    The economic mismanagement appears to me to let people take to easy ways of life and that can be true of the wealthier class of people and not the underprivileged ones.
    The political follies have been committed in countries like Iraq & Afghanistan.While a broken down Iraq has had a direct impact on spiraling Oil prices ,a defeat in Afghanistan can become a major source of International spending going down the drain even while keeping the Taliban threat alive as ever.Similar hotspots in international politics are not difficult to come by.
    In addition to the above the poor have taken it on themselves to continue to be poor through a large population explosion especially in the developing countries and that too in the wrong interpretation of religion ,where a man can keep upto 4 wives with the consequence that the number of mouths to be fed is increasing in an alarming way. Such religions and lack of birth control measures ensure that a pseudo democracy like the one practiced in India will not allow progress at the desired rate and thus dooms the country to remain mediocre in the comity of nations .Not that similar problems do not exist elsewhere.It appears that a combination of the above factors has lead to inflation and the food crisis.

  22. 22 John Augustine
    June 3, 2008 at 20:16


    Revisiting the question of my earlier rant about obesity and SUVs, I was responding to a listener comment I heard read on Newshour, not your program apparently. As a descendant of colonials, you English types have become essentially foreigners to me, and you know how that goes…

    You all sound alike to me. Cheers.

    John out

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