The CSS Blog Network

China is Marching West for Food

Photo: Bluemoose/Wikimedia Commons.

As the United States pivots towards the east, China launched the so-called “Marching West” strategy to avoid a direct confrontation with the Americans – a strategy first articulated by a prominent Chinese scholar Wang Jisi.

While much of the attention has been given to the strategic and diplomatic importance of countering the US pivot to Asia and on China’s overseas quest for energy resources, food could be an important driver behind China’s Marching West strategy. » More

Food for All

Tetra Pak School Milk in Indonesia, courtesy of Tetra Pak/Wikimedia Commons

LONDON – With food prices having doubled in the past decade, food security is back on the international agenda. How can the world produce more to feed the next billion people? How can agricultural yields be raised? What is the best way to develop aquaculture?

Unfortunately, this focus on the supply side misses half the problem. The world already produces more than twice the number of calories that the human population requires. An estimated one-third of global food production is wasted. In poor countries, food is lost due to inadequate storage and gaps in the supply chain (for example, a lack of refrigeration); in rich countries, food is also wasted in the supply chain, and consumers throw a lot of food away. » More

Slowing Nigerian Grain Trade Threatens Sahel Food Security

Local maize storage barn in Africa.

Northern Nigeria’s grain trade, which supplies almost half of the Sahel’s cereals, has slowed severely, while abnormally high prices of staple grains across the Sahel are causing serious food security concerns in this chronically vulnerable region.

The areas most at risk are southeastern and central Niger, which are highly dependent on Nigerian grain flows, as well as northern Nigeria and northern Benin. Chad is somewhat protected from the dynamic, as it produced a healthy harvest in 2012, says FEWS NET.

World Food Programme (WFP) market analysts report that grain supply is low in many of the main markets across the region, and that fewer traders from Niger and elsewhere are crossing the border to re-supply in Nigeria. Cross-border trade is significantly down in Nigeria’s Maigatari market (near Zinder in Niger), Illela (near Tahoua), Jibya (near Maradi) and Damassack (near Diffa), according to WFP. » More

The Food Threat to Human Civilization

Peanuts

Peanuts. Photo: CGIAR Climate/flickr.

PALO ALTO – Humanity faces a growing complex of serious, highly interconnected environmental problems, including much-discussed challenges like climate change, as well as the equally or more serious threat to the survival of organisms that support our lives by providing critical ecosystem services such as crop pollination and agricultural pest control. We face numerous other threats as well: the spread of toxic synthetic chemicals worldwide, vast epidemics, and a dramatic decline in the quality and accessibility of mineral resources, water, and soils.

Resource wars are already with us; if a “small” nuclear resource war erupted between, say, India and Pakistan, we now know that the war alone would likely end civilization. » More

Kenyan Tensions Spark Food Shortage Fears

Anti riot police in Nairobi. Photo DEMOSH/flickr

As Kenyans prepare to go to the polls on March 4, experts are warning of possible food shortages because many farmers are not planting crops for fear of election violence.

Farmers in the country’s grain basket, Rift Valley Province, are scaling down their planting because they do not want to lose out if there is violence similar to that which followed the December 2007 presidential election. More than 1,100 people were killed and hundreds of thousands uprooted from their homes in the months that followed.

Farmers from the Rift Valley were particularly badly affected. Many had their crops plundered, while others were forced to abandon their farms and seek refuge in displacement camps.

Maize, a staple crop planted between February and April, looks likely to be worst affected. Wheat is not sown until May, so that harvest is less at risk as the elections will be over by then.

Samson Koech, an agricultural and land economist in the Rift Valley town of Eldoret, warns that if farmers refrain from planting over the next few months, Kenya could find itself with a food crisis later in the year.

“More than 80 per cent of food consumption in Kenya is grown by smallholder farmers who depend on agriculture as their main source of income for their livelihoods, and the decision by some of them not to plant the crop [this] year will result in nutrition insecurity among most families,” Koech said.

» More

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