Often a person gets so involved in their local and day to day problems of which we face several living in Pakistan, that we begin to lose sight of the bigger picture.
Pakistan has been in the grip of serious shortages of food, i.e flour, rice and other edibles since the start of this year. Which basically means an increase in prices of staples progressively leading to that fine line where the public breaks into mayhem to secure food.
At first it was thought that this is happening due to hoarding or the smuggling of food to Afghanistan. However lately through U.N and other media everyone knows that this “Shortage of Food” is now a global threat.
At present some 73 Million people in 78 different countries of the world are depending on the United Nations World Food Program to survive. Which basically means that 1 out of every 80 people in this world are dependent on someone else just to get basic food to eat. On its own the 1 out of 80 statistic sounds minute. However we are talking global here, if you zoom down to just the Third world the figures are 10 times more catastrophic.
The first and chief reason for these shortages is the extraordinary rise in prices of basic edibles. This has happened due to the chain reaction caused by the increase in oil prices. With oil trading at USD 110 a barrel, the inputs such as the fertilizer and seeds through the harvesting storage and delivery system are witnessing a scary increase in costs, leading to the end result.
Secondly the world population is growing at an alarming rate specially in booming economies like India and China which are literally eating up the worlds food supplies.
The stock of world cereal supplies is at a two decade low right now, close to what it had fallen to in the 1980;s.
The third major cause is that of global weather changes leading to low crop yields as well as a severe burden imposed on these already lowered yields by the thirst for alternate fuel. It takes around 230 odd kg of corn to make enough ethanol to fill a gas tank. However the same amount is able to feed a person for one whole year.
The riots for food have already started, among the first hit is Egypt the largest importer of wheat in the world. In Cairo there are huge cues to buy government subsidized bread and often fights break out. Yesterday on Al Jazeera An Egyptian man said: “People are fighting. Killing for bread, some are even pulling out knives. What is happening? What is this? Famine? “
We are already witnessing long lines since January outside utility stores for flour in Pakistan, how long will it take for full scale rioting to occur if the prices go up any further? Even now rice has risen to Rs 70 a kg, making it a luxury for the poor people of Pakistan. Yes i am speaking of rice, the cheapest staple in any laborers diet.
The world governments need to organize emergency resources to meet this coming monster. It will not be long before the populace of the third world starts starving and looks to any and all means to gain food. When it is finished in their own localities they will start looking for it in others. Yes i know i am painting doomsday scenarios out of some bad horror movie, but it is not far away, unless the world gets together on this and makes major changes in international trade policies as well as allocation of land for bio fuel farming vs grain farming!!
It is time we as a world stop fighting and stop wasting our resources, because we can ride bicycles to work, but we cannot sleep hungry.