The Global Food Crisis – The End of Plenty

by Dave

Food will be the new money. As central bankers accelerate money printing which will inevitably lead to high inflation, tangible assets like farmland -  gold with a cash yield, which act as an inflation hedge are only going to skyrocket in value with the demand-supply imbalance for food.
National Geographic Magazine – NGM.com

Last year the skyrocketing cost of food was a wake-up call for the planet. Between 2005 and the summer of 2008, the price of wheat and corn tripled, and the price of rice climbed fivefold, spurring food riots in nearly two dozen countries and pushing 75 million more people into poverty. But unlike previous shocks driven by short-term food shortages, this price spike came in a year when the world’s farmers reaped a record grain crop. This time, the high prices were a symptom of a larger problem tugging at the strands of our worldwide food web, one that’s not going away anytime soon. Simply put: For most of the past decade, the world has been consuming more food than it has been producing. After years of drawing down stockpiles, in 2007 the world saw global carryover stocks fall to 61 days of global consumption, the second lowest on record.

Climate change—with its hotter growing seasons and increasing water scarcity—is projected to reduce future harvests in much of the world, raising the specter of what some scientists are now calling a perpetual food crisis.

Today, though, the miracle of the green revolution is over in Punjab: Yield growth has essentially flattened since the mid-1990s. Overirrigation has led to steep drops in the water table, now tapped by 1.3 million tube wells, while thousands of hectares of productive land have been lost to salinization and waterlogged soils. Forty years of intensive irrigation, fertilization, and pesticides have not been kind to the loamy gray fields of Punjab.
Rattan Lal, a noted soil scientist at Ohio State who graduated from Punjab Agricultural University in 1963, believes it was the abuse—not the use—of green revolution technologies that caused most of the problems. That includes the overuse of fertilizers, pesticides, and irrigation and the removal of all crop residues from the fields, essentially strip-mining soil nutrients. “I realize the problems of water quality and water withdrawal,” says Lal. “But it saved hundreds of millions of people. We paid a price in water, but the choice was to let people die.”

the challenge of putting enough food in nine billion mouths by 2050 is daunting. Two billion people already live in the driest parts of the globe, and climate change is projected to slash yields in these regions even further. No matter how great their yield potential, plants still need water to grow. And in the not too distant future, every year could be a drought year for much of the globe.

Himalayan glaciers that now provide water for hundreds of millions of people, livestock, and farmland in China and India are melting faster and could vanish completely by 2035. In the worst-case scenario, yields for some grains could decline by 10 to 15 percent in South Asia by 2030.

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