The New Geopolitics of Food

by Dave

By Lester R. Brown | Foreign Policy

the largest food bubbles are in India and China. In India, where farmers have drilled some 20 million irrigation wells, water tables are falling and the wells are starting to go dry. The World Bank reports that 175 million Indians are being fed with grain produced by overpumping.

IN THIS ERA OF TIGHTENING world food supplies, the ability to grow food is fast becoming a new form of geopolitical leverage (DR – an OPEC for foodgrains is not a farfetched possibility), and countries are scrambling to secure their own parochial interests at the expense of the common good.

This January [2011], a new stage in the scramble among importing countries to secure food began to unfold when South Korea, which imports 70 percent of its grain, announced that it was creating a new public-private entity that will be responsible for acquiring part of this grain. With an initial office in Chicago, the plan is to bypass the large international trading firms by buying grain directly from U.S. farmers. As the Koreans acquire their own grain elevators, they may well sign multiyear delivery contracts with farmers, agreeing to buy specified quantities of wheat, corn, or soybeans at a fixed price. [DR - I have talked to large grain buyers in India and the Middle East who are eager to adopt such a model, buying cost-plus from farmers]

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