The 2007-08 food crisis sparked riots from Haiti to Bangladesh to Egypt. The skyrocketing food prices took the world by storm for it occurred in a year when the global farmers' reaped a record grain crop.
In 2011, the crisis stands to repeat itself once again with greater intensity. Russia faces severe drought and wildfires throughout the region, especially, where wheat is grown. On the other hand, Pakistan's devastating floods have damaged 600,000 tonne of wheat, an estimate that could be higher as agricultural lands have been wiped off.
Most importantly, the "Green Revolution" has allowed population to grow from The varieties rapidly spread out in Asia 'changing the traditional farming practices of millions of farmers' and soon 'miracle' rice varieties followed.
The Green Revolution indeed brought higher yields of wheat and rice. But at a price! Over-irrigation in Punjab, India has led to 'steep drop in the water tables and the productive lands lost to salinization and water logged soils'.. Worse, the overuse of pesticides and fertilizers contaminated the water to such an extent that pesticides are found in the Punjabi farmer's blood, their water table, their vegetables, even in their wives' breast milk .. Today, cancer rules several Punjabi villages of India.
The 'abuse' of Green Revolution stripped the soil of its nutrients. In addition to this, farmers became heavily in debt as the prices of seeds, pesticides and fertilizers soared. With low government support, many have left for the urban centers in search of employment to pay off the debt. Thus, few farmers now farm their lands, particularly, in developing countries.
With global population rising, demand is clearly outstripping supply putting a pressure on prices to increase.
But now an additional factor is the climate change. New climate studies reveal that extreme heat waves are likely to become common in the tropics and the sub-tropics.
2010 has witnessed extreme weather patterns. For the first time, temperatures soared to record highs in the Middle East leading to power outages in several countries. The erratic climate behavior could further contribute in reducing agricultural output and fueling prices.
The volatility in the food markets is also attributed to the commodities becoming an 'asset class' for investment' and needs to be controlled.
These factors are heavily contributing in creating a food crisis for the global world. If the crisis and the underlying reasons remain ignored, then perhaps the world might witness another great famine with a greater tragedy than the Bengal Famine.
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