As prices of staple foods on the commodity markets reach record highs, fear is growing that a series of bad crops around the world could soon cause a global food crisis.
A number of factors are coming together to push up the cost of basic food products on the world markets. In the United States agricultural land has been hit by the worst drought that the country has seen in 50 year. This has lead to the loss of almost one-sixth of the corn crop, causing a 27.7% jump in the price of corn since June. The US soya bean harvest has also been hit, although nowhere near as hard, with 47% of the crop described by the US Department of Agriculture as being in poor or very poor condition. The price of Soya beans has gone up by nearly 38% over the course of the last 6 months, and the US harvest is expected to be the worst in at least 5 years. An increased demand for alternative grains has also seen the price of wheat rising sharply.
Russian harvests have also been badly hit by droughts, and in India crop yields are being affected by a lower than usual level of monsoon rains, which were said to be more than 15% below average in mid-August. The Indian Food Minister Kuruppasserry Varkey Thomas has told parliament this month that the light monsoon rains “could affect the crop prospects and may have an impact on prices of essential commodities.” Asian rice prices are forecast to go up by as much as 10% in the next few months, as limited supplies feed through into higher prices. UK crops are also being affected by unusual weather patterns of the opposite kind – record breaking rainfalls, the highest levels of summer rain on record – have damaged many crops.
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