Tag Archives: hunger

The Global Food Crisis is not over. Our obligations go beyond fixing the financial system,” says UN Special Rapporteur

26 June 2009

(GENEVA – NEW YORK) The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Mr. Olivier De Schutter, calls on decision-makers gathering in New York for the UN Conference on World Financial and Economic Crisis not to forget the global food prices crisis. This crisis is continuing in many countries. It is connected not only with the financial and economic crises, but also with the climatic/environmental crisis. Continue reading

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Economy, Food Security, Human Rights

Pakistan’s Wheat Management and the South Asian Hunger Bomb

Source:  Center for Research and Security Studies (CRSS), Islamabad, Pakistan.

Hunger’s direct victims: Every year in Pakistan, over 420,000[1] children under the age of five die because of malnutrition that affects their health. In June 2008, the annual food price inflation was running at about 20% and this figure is feared to be looming at 34% by mid December because of widespread unemployment and economic meltdown. Price hike of the sensitive commodities also increased in some cases to 40% during the same period of the year when compared to 2006. In a country that boasts to be a nuclear power and leader of the “Muslim Ummah,” the UNICEF report estimated that 38% of all Pakistani children were underweight, 37% stunted and 13% “wasted or unable” to attain the expected weight in their entire childhood. Pakistan made “insufficient progress” in tackling the hunger and children malnutrition. In addition to these hunger indicators, an appalling 44% of the Pakistani population does not have access to tap-water and only 42% use fixed toilets.

What’s actually happening?
Like many developing countries, Pakistan has been facing food shortage as an international phenomenon particularly in 2007. Not that the domestic management was perfect; the government’s Continue reading

5 Comments

Filed under Food Security, Pakistan, South Asia

INDIA: Why is the eradication of malnutrition a mission impossible?

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission

The success of the first phase of Chandrayann-1, undertaken on Tuesday, 21 October 2008, entitles India to claim membership in the elite club of countries that have proved their technological and financial capabilities in sending a mission to the moon.  According to the Indian government, the project that is estimated to have cost 78 million USD stands as proof of India’s scientific advancement and financial standing. Among other studies to be carried out, Chandrayaan-1 will put a probe on the moon’s surface to explore the possibility of the presence of water there.

India’s mission to the moon is not merely the culmination of the dreams of a few individuals. Persons ranging from the former President of India, Dr. Abdul Kalam, an accomplished scientist, to politicians and millions of ordinary Indians have dreamt about it. A successful moon mission will be a true acknowledgment of expectations that will satisfy the dreams of many citizens.  It will be the proof that when India has the will, it can deliver. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under India, Poverty

Pakistan: IMF Programme needs to be debated

Raza Rumi’s oped published in the NEWS (Pakistan)

The not-so-inevitable is about to happen. After weeks of groping in the darkness of global financial mess, the Pakistani government is negotiating with the International Monetary Fund. Admittedly, Pakistan’s options are limited, given its intractable dependence on oil imports for survival. The civilian government moving from one crisis to another has elevated indecision to a policy status. This does not imply that we start echoing the unwise cacophony of impatience with an elected and far more legitimate government than the eight-year-long authoritarian regime. But then who cares: if recent history is a guide, PPP governments come with a brand or at least get branded as incompetent comprising coteries of cronies, as if the rest of the country is a fair, rule-based haven.

The plain truth is that the power-wielders of Pakistan have been following a set of disastrous policies for decades that have now put the survival of the state, or as we knew it, in question. From the great hunts for strategic depth and Jihad, and from nurturing domestic oligarchies and pampering a delinquent industrial sector at the expense of land tillers and equitable irrigation, we are now paying the price for policy making by the elites for the sustenance of the elites. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Aid, IFIs, International Aid, Pakistan, Poverty

FAO: More Free Trade, More Hunger

by Esther Vivas

Today humanity produces three times what was produced in the 1960s, while the population has only doubled.  There is no production crisis in agriculture, but the impossibility of accessing food by large populations who cannot pay current prices. The solution cannot be more free trade.

The high level summit of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations held in Rome on Food Security ended on June 5th.  The conclusions of the gathering do not indicate a change in the policy trends which have been in force these last years and which have led to the current situation.  The declarations of good intentions made by various governments and the promises of millions of euros to end hunger in the world are not capable of ending the structural causes that have generated this crisis.  On the contrary, the proposals made by the general secretary of the UN, Ban Ki-Moon, to increase food production by 50% and to eliminate the export limits imposed by some of the countries affected, only reinforce the root causes of this crisis rather than addressing and guaranteeing the food security of the majority of the people in the global South. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Development

The world food crisis and the capitalist market – Part Three

By Alex Lantier
10 June 2008

This is the last part of a series of articles on the world food crisis also posted here. The original versions of Part one and  Part two can be found here.

The current food crisis reflects not only financial events of recent years, but longer-term policies of world imperialism. Instead of allowing for a planned improvement of infrastructure and farming techniques, globalization on a capitalist basis has resulted in a restriction in many parts of the world of farm production. This has been carried out in order to lessen competition and prevent market gluts from harming the profit interests of the major powers.

One major aspect of imperialist policy was to limit farm production in the so-called “First World” to prevent sudden falls in world prices. In the US, this policy took the form of the federal government’s Conservation Reserve Program, first passed as part of the 1985 Food Security Act.

The program allows farmers to apply for payments of $50 per acre of land on which they do not plant crops. A nationwide limit of 180,000 square kilometers (about 10 percent of US arable land) was imposed on the program, later decreased to 130,000 square kilometers in 2007.

Though the bill was presented as a means of limiting soil erosion due to overplanting of ecologically vulnerable land, much of the fallow land registered under the project was not, in fact, vulnerable to erosion, but rather chosen by farmers on the basis of the price of the crops that could be grown on it. This was in line with the law’s stated objectives, which were “acreage reduction” and the maintenance of “target prices and price-support loans.”

Similar payments to farmers for farmland kept out of cultivation were adopted on a country-by-country basis, after the 1992 reform of Europe’s Common Agricultural Policy. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under capitalism, Food Security, Globalization, Poverty

The world food crisis and the capitalist market – Part Two

By Alex Lantier published here on  9 June 2008

This is the second part of a three-part series of articles on the world food crisis. Part one was posted earlier

The central problem underlying the current food crisis is not a physical lack of food, but rather its unaffordability for masses of people due to rapidly increasing prices. Among the immediate factors driving the rapid worsening of the food crisis, a major role is played by the explosion of speculative investment in basic commodities such as oil and grain, itself bound up with the difficulties facing US and world financial markets and the decline in the US dollar. Rampant speculation by hedge funds and other big market players has increased costs, encouraging private firms to further bid up prices in a competitive drive to amass as much profit as possible.

Official statistics disprove the assertion that there is not enough food for everyone. According to 2008 US Department of Agriculture figures, the average per capita consumption is 2,618 calories per day in developing countries and 3,348 in developed countries, compared with a recommended minimum of 2,100 calories. However, profound disparities in access to this food, stemming from poverty and social inequality, condemn many millions to hunger.

Time magazine quoted United Nations World Food Program official Josette Sheeran as saying, “We are seeing food on the shelves but people being unable to afford it.”

Commodity speculation
World market prices for agricultural commodities have surged precisely as big investors have pulled out of traditional investment and credit markets, largely as a result of the bursting of the US housing and credit bubbles in 2007. Speculative capital has gone in search of other profitable investments.
A major avenue for such speculative capital is commodity futures. This essentially involves financial bets that prices of basic goods such as oil, grains and metals will continue to rise. Since these futures are used as benchmarks for actual trading in the physical commodities, their heady rise has helped sharply pull up market prices for the commodities themselves.

Recent congressional testimony by a US hedge fund manager, Michael Masters, sheds an interesting light on commodity futures speculation. He told Congress:
“In the early part of this decade, some institutional investors who suffered as a result of the severe equity bear market of 2000-2002 began to look to the commodity futures market as a potential new ‘asset class’ suitable for institutional investment. While the commodities markets have always had some speculators, never before had major investment institutions seriously considered the commodities futures markets as viable for larger-scale investment programs. Commodities looked attractive because they have historically been ‘uncorrelated,’ meaning they trade inversely to fixed income and equity portfolios [i.e., they do not necessarily fall, and instead tend to rise, when the bond or stock markets decline].”
Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under capitalism, Food Security, Globalization, Inequality, Poverty