Evolving Challenges for Sustainable Growth
Edited by Roberta Capello and Tomaz Ponce Dentinho
Chapter 10: Policy failures and food crises in less developed countries
The food crisis is an issue of major importance that is currently being eclipsed by the international economic crisis. Nevertheless, the situation faced by more than a thousand million people who are suffering from ‘chronic hunger’ (a sixth of the world’s population) presents a very worrying panorama. According to the FAO’s food price index,1 in recent months prices have reached the highest levels since 1990, the year in which the index began. We can therefore say that, after the events of mid-2008, the threat of a new food crisis is already a reality. Increases in the price of basic foods have serious consequences, especially in those areas of the planet that are less favoured from an economic point of view, and where the population spends between 50 and 60 per cent of its income on food (a figure that can rise to 80 per cent in the poorest countries). In concrete terms, the alarm has been sounded by UNICEF (2010), which indicates a 30 per cent increase in the number of people suffering from malnutrition in Southeast Asia, and by the president of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, who has affirmed that the current food crisis has generated an increase of 44 million in the population suffering from chronic hunger. The large increases in the price of food during 2007 and the first half of 2008 were followed by a fall in prices during the second half of 2008. However, 2009 saw the beginning of a change of trend which has led to a very worrying current situation.
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