Rising price of food

Hunger often has less to do with the availability of food than its price. It was spiralling global prices that provoked food riots in many countries in 2008, and which prompted a report from Professor Sir John Beddington, the government's Chief Scientific Advisor, who warned of a 'perfect storm' of food, energy and water shortages emerging by 2030 unless agricultural efficiency and resource use could be improved.30 Of course, rising prices might also stimulate innovation and increased agricultural production, but according to Professor Charles Godfray, Director of the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food, "evidence shows [the market] will respond imperfectly and sometimes perversely, and with time delays that lead to hunger for many people and irreparable environmental damage in many parts of the world. The environmental 'externalities' of food production are not captured in the current market economy. Clearly, action is needed to reorient the food system in a more sustainable direction."31

Nor is hunger solved simply by producing enough food in total: that condition is satisfied today, yet still 1 in 6 goes hungry. Food security is regional, and according to an analysis by the Global Harvest Initiative, regional disparities are likely to widen: at current rates of productivity growth, by 2030 East Asia will be able to grow only 67% of the food it needs; India, 59%; and sub-Saharan Africa just 15%.32 Yet India, which is currently self sufficient, loses 40% of its food after harvesting, much of it because cold chains are rudimentary or non¬existent, and many other developing countries suffer similar levels of post-harvest loss.

30 FOOD, ENERGY, WATER AND THE CLIMATE: A PERFECT STORM OF GLOBAL EVENTS?, John Beddington, Chief Scientific Adviser to HM Government, 2008, http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20121212135622/http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/goscience/docs/p/perfect-storm-paper.pdf

31 Food security and sustainable intensification, H. Charles J. Godfray, Tara Garnett, Philosophical Transactions B, 17 February 2014, http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/369/1639/20120273.full

32 2014 GAP Report, Global Harvest Initiative, http://www.globalharvestinitiative.org/index.php/gap-report-gap-index/2014-gap-report/