World food shortages worsened by wars and civil strife
The latest World Bank food price report issued on 15 August 2011 has chartered a 33 percent rise in the real cost of food from July 2010 to July 2011, as food security becomes an increasing global concern.
Dr Barthwal-Datta, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow who leads Sydney University’s Food Security Research Program says, “Communities in conflict have less access to food because their agricultural lands are being destroyed and their infrastructure is being destroyed. Marginalised and poor communities are even further disadvantaged.”
Dr Barthwal-Datta is also leader of the Centre for International Security Studies (CISS) ‘Food Security in Asia’ Project, a two-year venture funded by the MacArthur Foundation. CISS is examining how political, economic, demographic and environmental pressures will impact food security dynamics in the region in the coming decades, and the consequences of this for regional stability.
Dr Barthwal-Datta says Asia is a region vulnerable to greater food insecurity because a majority of people in the Asian region are spending 80 percent of their income on food. Accordingly, food price spikes are potentially devastating and can make buying sufficient food impossible.
“We know that States in the region haven’t been very good at managing their food insecurity problems. The same time there’s huge potential within the region to move towards greater food security by investing in agriculture and smallholder farmers. This will not only increase food production but actually support the livelihoods of these people,” Dr Barthwal-Datta says.
Australian Food News also notes that drought is currently exacerbating agricultural production problems, with unseasonally dry weather in the Horn of Africa, the southern states of the United States and Mexico, South American countries such as Peru and Bolivia, and Hunan Province in China.