OXFAM warned yesterday that average prices of staple crops will more than double in 20 years if urgent action is not taken to change the international food system.
Its report ‘Growing a Better Future’ forecasts that average international prices of key staples, such as maize, will increase by between 120 and 180 per cent by 2030, with up to half of this increase due to climate change.
The world’s poorest people, who spend up to 80 per cent of their income on food, will be hit hardest, states Oxfam.
Oxfam also states that decades of steady progress in the fight against hunger is now being reversed as demand outpaces food production.
It adds that by 2050 demand for food will rise by 70 per cent yet our capacity to increase production is declining. The average growth rate in agricultural yields has almost halved since 1990 and is set to decline to a fraction of one per cent in the next decade.
Eight million people, the majority of them women and girls, currently face chronic food shortages in East Africa. Increasing numbers of regional and local crises could see the need for food aid double in the next 10 years.
Oxfam Chief Executive Barbara Stocking said: ‘We are sleepwalking towards an avoidable age of crisis. One in seven people on the planet goes hungry every day despite the fact that the world is capable of feeding everyone. The food system must be overhauled if we are to overcome the increasingly pressing challenges of climate change, spiralling food prices and the scarcity of land, water and energy. We must consign hunger to history.’
Oxfam’s Grow campaign to eradicate hunger was launched yesterday.
The future of food production does not rest with capitalism. Capitalism is currently enriching the Indian bourgeoisie, while Oxfam shows that the Indian bourgeoisie at the same time as it was doubling the size of its capitalist economy in 1990-2005, it was increasing the number of hungry people in India by 65 million, and that 25 per cent of the world’s hungry are now in India.
Contrast this with China where there was a workers revolution in 1948, and where, despite the rule of the Stalinist bureaucracy and its turn towards capitalism, there are not the millions of hungry and destitute people that you have all over India.
In fact, it is the economic and political crisis of the capitalist system that is creating the spectre of mass starvation.
In the US this crisis has seen millions of people lose their homes and their jobs and be transformed from high wage workers into hungry paupers.
The banking crash and the slump has seen millions more jobless, homeless and hungry people created.
It has also seen a situation where finance capital is driving up prices by purchasing food supplies for many years ahead.
Where there was once currency speculation you now have food speculation, driving up prices and bringing with it hunger and starvation.
This is at the same time as wars in Libya and threats of wars in the Middle East and the Gulf are driving up oil and gas prices and slashing wages.
US policy now is to ensure that 15 per cent of the world’s maize is used to make fuel. The amount of grain required to fill the petrol tank of a 4×4 vehicle with biofuel is sufficient to feed one person for a year. Meanwhile, the EU targets 10 per cent of transport fuel being biofuels by 2020.
Capitalism and its crisis are the source of mass starvation and privation, and also the wars that are sweeping the planet.
Capitalism is also the source of the solution to this crisis, the world socialist revolution that has seen its opening rounds erupt in north Africa and Europe.
The way to deal with hunger, poverty, starvation and joblessness is to build sections of the Fourth International all over the planet to lead the developing world socialist revolution to its victory.