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Opinion

Food Prices Are on the Rise – And the Global South Will Be Hit Hardest

Written by Stefan Schmitz 28 April 2022

With the harvest in progress outside of Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, a threshing team uses flat rocks to knock rice grains from freshly cut plants. Madagascar, the world’s fourth largest island, holds 2.4 million farms. At harvest time, the rhythm of rice threshing can be heard on most of them. While the country is most famous for exotic products like vanilla and cloves, 85% of Malagasy farmers grow rice.With the harvest in progress outside of Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, a threshing team uses flat rocks to knock rice grains from freshly cut plants. Madagascar, the world’s fourth largest island, holds 2.4 million farms. At harvest time, the rhythm of rice threshing can be heard on most of them. While the country is most famous for exotic products like vanilla and cloves, 85% of Malagasy farmers grow rice.

“The window of opportunity is closing. The longer we leave it, the more crop diversity we lose, and the harder it will be to cope with climate shocks, price spikes and instability,” says Crop Trust Executive Director Stefan Schmitz in an opinion piece for the Independent.

The war in Ukraine, rising food prices, and the risk of agricultural collapse have ruthlessly exposed the fragility of our global food security.

Nearly half of the world’s food supply depends on just three crops: wheat, maize, and rice – all of which are vulnerable to the climate crisis and conflict. Reliant on such a narrow, precarious food supply, no wonder we are seeing price shocks. If we are to have any hope of preventing future crises, and solving this one, we must do more to diversify our food system.

Even before this war, the climate crisis, a global pandemic, and other conflicts around the world had put agriculture and food security under increasing stress. With every day that the war continues, the danger of a catastrophe grows. Supply bottlenecks and price spikes threaten millions of people and the political stability of entire regions.

While prices are certainly rising in the UK and other industrialized countries, the combination of a failure to develop local food systems and a reliance on imports means that the global south will always be hit hardest by price shocks.

How did we get into this mess? It is time we took a fundamental look at the development of agriculture around the world so we can find a solution that can fix this once and for all.

Read the full story in the Independent.

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