Saturday, April 19, 2008

World Bank reveals food prices becoming unbearable for the world's poor

Increases in the price of rice, wheat, corn, cooking oil, milk and other foodstuff have sparked violent protests in many countries including Egypt, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Ethiopia, Madagascar, the Philippines and Indonesia. In Pakistan and Thailand, army troops have been deployed to avoid food being seized from fields and warehouses. On 14/4/2008 World Bank has reported that global wheat prices jumped 181 per cent over the 36 months to February 2008, with overall food prices up 83 per cent. Robert Zoellick, the World Bank president, said, Based on a very rough analysis, we estimate that doubling of food prices over the last three years could potentially push 100 million people in low-income countries deeper into poverty.

There are two primary factors that have prompted higher prices. First, the increase in the price of oil has caused the price of agriculture inputs, such as seeds, fertilizers, machinery etc to go up. Higher transportation costs have also added to the overall cost of the foodstuffs. Thus the consumer is forced to pay for all of these extra costs. Second, agriculture land in many parts of the world is being used to grow crops for bio-fuels, such as ethanol thereby curtailing supply and driving up prices higher. However, world cereal production in 2008 is projected to increase by 2.6 per cent to a record 2,164 million tones. This indicates that there is enough food to feed the world's poor. But the capitalist market system is preventing the food reaching those people who need it most. In Islam, it is the responsibility of the Islamic Khilafah to intervene and meet the basic needs of every citizen who is unable to purchase food to satisfy their hunger.

16/4/2008

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