The Gathering Global Food Storm

The Gathering Global Food Storm

NEW DELHI -- In India's vibrant capital, food seems to be everywhere -- from bustling fruit and vegetable markets and greasy kebab stalls, to sumptuous platters in rooftop restaurants and dilli ki chaat, Delhi's ubiquitous street snacks. Poor street vendors and high-end chefs alike offer a multitude of culinary options to keep the city -- and its array of visiting tourists, diplomats and business leaders -- well-fed.

Yet behind this apparent culinary prosperity lies rampant food insecurity. Food-related inflation in India soared above 18 percent in December, sparking street protests over high onion prices. Today, food-related inflation remains high, at nearly 12 percent. In a nation where at least 250 million subsist on less than a dollar a day (.pdf), even modest price rises have a devastating impact on incomes and livelihoods. Yet, when food prices fall, India's small farmers suffer. Already crippled by debt and encumbered by water shortages, 200,000 of them have committed suicide over the past 13 years.

India is not alone in this story. Just a few years removed from the 2007-2008 global food crisis, the world is once again experiencing the telltale drivers of acute food insecurity: rising prices of both food and oil, low agricultural yields, destructive weather and unquenchable demand. Once again, nations are banning exports in an effort to keep prices down at home -- even as such policies drive up food costs in global markets. The consequences can be seen from Bolivia, where top government officials are hoarding food in their homes, to the Middle East, where the rising cost of basic foodstuffs has become a rallying cry for revolution.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review