Did you know 20 June was world refugee day? Major factors leading to refugee migrations are war, economic & climate conflict, government persecution or there being a significant risk of these.
Topical, yes! But we have an even bigger problem: fast rising utilities&food prices at home, abroad and planet-wide. End 02/22, authors Lukas Kornher und Joachim von Braun at the German Center for Development Research, University of Bonn, produced a fascinating policy brief about the effects of Covid and the second Russian invasion on the volatility of global food prices. The complexity of influences making up the final food bill we pay for is clearly delineated in this short paper. Here’s their executive summary:
- Since the beginning of the Covid-19-pandemic, international food prices have become more volatile and have risen sharply. They have now reached the level of prices during the food crises of 2007/2008 and 2011. The FAO Food Price Index rose from 95 in 2019 to 135 in January 2022 and food prices are not expected to fall to pre-crisis levels anytime soon. In the context of increasing climate risks, these market and price risks are serious threats to political stability.
- Russia’s military attack on Ukraine further drives up food prices. Together the two countries account for 20% of global maize exports and 30% of global wheat exports. The hampered trade flows directly affect major importing countries in the Middle East and Africa, and indirectly poor people in many other countries too. This will increase hunger.
- The rise in the food import bills and pandemic-related interventions have affected markets and value chains in food systems. Rising input prices (fertilizer and energy) and higher transport costs have made agricultural production significantly more expensive.
- The needed development-, economic-, and foreign policy actions are country and context specific. Important elements are:
- Increased consideration of food security issues in the context of the UN, G20 and G7 agendas in 2022, including the UN 2021 Food Systems Summit’s recommendations for action, taking the complex war, Covid19, and climate stress situations into account.
- Economic sanctions that directly or indirectly impact food security of third countries and the global poor need careful design considerations. The World Trade Organization (WTO) should be strengthened, for example to prevent short-term export stops and restrictive trade policies by individual countries.
- Strengthening sustainable productivity growth, especially in low-income countries.
- Support for flexible social security systems, expansion of nutrition programs, and emergency assistance. Scaling humanitarian actions in and around hunger-prone conflict zones.
- Investment trade facilitation, such as through improved infrastructure and (digital) technology for managing customs systems.
While macro implications seem far removed from our local stomachs and kitchens, it’s important to link Commodities Trading and the behaviour of the “Free Market” to your&my own perceived quantitative need for plant, animal, and fungal nutrition, and also with our highly-in-demand wallets!
Aren’t these the two most important influencers of our food wants&desires? And exactly the reasons for the world’s unnecessary food insecurity?
All of a sudden (in June 2022) it seems we are capable of buying=consuming=inbib-/gesting less quantities when supermarket prices actually rise by 10-20%.[mfn] This will at the very least positively influence health&weight statistics in the 1stWorld… [/mfn] Isn’t it time we consumers start to take our personal responsibility seriously for, and also proactively influence our own local socio-economic environments?
This could be done by consci(enti)ously reinvesting your&my disposable income in small overseeable[mfn]buy straight from the local farm/farmers’ market, join the local cooperative, actually know the quality/not of what we can afford (finances&health) consume[/mfn] food&utilities producers. By starting to build up and securing our local economic supply by building up and securing local demand. Let’s dare — ourselves — to look backwards at and learn from the generally abundant & quality producing local agricultural production & distribution practices of only 100 years ago!
The maths/logic of becoming more locally linked and self-sufficient seems simple: you get what you choose to consume — in terms of quality (bio-chemistry, seasonal items) & quantity (health, nutritional value) & secure supply (factual knowledge, 2way community development) & environmental benefits (organic & local transport=less CO2)! What you accept to PUT IN to your body/mind/spirit you reap; What. You. Believe. Is. What. You. See. Is. What. You. Get; you are responsible for your own consumption whether you want to be or not, that’s a natural law.
You and I may try to run but we simply can’t hide from the fact that our every single choice (=daily LIFE in action at the instinctual, emotional, intuitive, rational and/or spiritual levels) creates knock-on effects. We CREATE the proverbial butterfly effect!
So why not, today, start to do our best to secure a better result for our local benefit, starting with the most basic personal Maslowian building blocks. The karma we’ve produced by satisfying up to now our own definitions of basic need levels, is proving to be quite a b!@£¢h, as illustrated in the above report!
How can you expect the best when you keep on clinging on to the second best? That is what is happening to the majority of humankind; they are afraid to let go of what they have in case they lose everything, and yet only when they are willing to lose everything can they hope to gain everything. Only when you empty a cup of stale water can you refill it again with pure crystal water. Only when you are emptied of all can you be refilled. Only when you cease clinging on to the old can you accept the new. — Eileen Caddy’s “Still, small voice within”