Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Lester Brown´s "Great Food Crisis of 2011" - A reality check

Flashback early 1920´s: Tractorless wheat harvesting somewhere in the US - 33 mules! Not very practical.



 January 2011 : Lester Brown in Foreign Policy Magazine


The Great Food Crisis of 2011
It's real, and it's not going away anytime soon.

"As the new year begins, the price of wheat is setting an all-time high in the United Kingdom. Food riots are spreading across Algeria. Russia is importing grain to sustain its cattle herds until spring grazing begins. India is wrestling with an 18-percent annual food inflation rate, sparking protests. China is looking abroad for potentially massive quantities of wheat and corn. The Mexican government is buying corn futures to avoid unmanageable tortilla price rises. And on January 5, the U.N. Food and Agricultural organization announced that its food price index for December hit an all-time high."

 "On the supply side: soil erosion, aquifer depletion, the loss of cropland to nonfarm uses, the diversion of irrigation water to cities, the plateauing of crop yields in agriculturally advanced countries, and -- due to climate change -- crop-withering heat waves and melting mountain glaciers and ice sheets. These climate-related trends seem destined to take a far greater toll in the future."

Reality check, October 2011:

Global worries about food price inflation should be receding as wheat supplies are plentiful. Warehouse stocks are at their highest in years, producers have been reporting bumper crops and prices are falling sharply.
 While the US and Australia remain reliable exporters with no restrictions, others are now re-entering the export markets to off-load what have been bumper harvests onto countries that are regular importers.
On the supply side India, the world's third-largest wheat producer (after the EU and China) and whose governments are normally hypersensitive to domestic availability that might lift domestic prices, is back in the market as a net exporter.
In Kiev, the Ukrainian government has been dithering over scrapping export levies that make its wheat more attractively priced for export. There are reports that Egypt, the world's single largest importer, has been turning away from the US and towards Russia. Russia is matching bumper harvests with a vigorous export drive.
All the signs are that by the end of this season global wheat stocks will be at levels not seen for a decade or more. And US stock levels are a major driver of trading on the influential grain futures markets of Chicago and Kansas City

Read the entire article here

China Daily reports about a bumper crop in China:

Grain output is expected to jump to a record high of more than 550 million tons, marking the eighth consecutive year for increased production, Chen Xiaohua, deputy agriculture minister, said at a news conference.


A suggestion to the editors of Foreign Policy: Next time "grain expert" Lester Brown offers an article for publication, think twice before you accept it.

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