After the Food Crisis: “Not Out of the Woods Yet”

In March this year, Josette Sheeran, the Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), dubbed the world’s largest humanitarian agency, delivered a speech in London in which she discussed the 2008 food crisis one year later. She made the following four points:

“1. This battle [for global food security] is winnable;

2. We are not out of the woods;

3. We must fully utilize the mitigating structures created after the Great Depression and World War II to help the world weather such storms – the World Bank, IMF and UN agencies such as WFP;

4. We must simultaneously unleash a paradigm change in our approach to food security and hunger and new perils, such as climate change.”

She concludes:

“We must work on security of supply. Last year we saw record harvests in many nations, but a break down in global markets. Nations such as the Philippines, Liberia or Ethiopia had severe trouble purchasing enough food, even if they had the cash, as more than 30 nations restricted food exports. … Of course, security of supply is also dependent on adequate production. We know the world must produce twice as much food by 2050. This is in face of scarcity factors such as climate change and water shortages. After the 1974 food crisis, and the United States’ decision to restrict soybean exports, there was a flood of investment into Brazil and Argentina in efforts to secure alternative supply.

“Today we see such a gold rush into Africa, with billions of investment going into cultivating land, most of it for export. It would turn this food crisis into a huge opportunity if those investments can be structured as a mutual win – local communities win through investments in infrastructure and through reaping a portion of the harvest to market locally. Even as we meet emergency needs, we must build an anti-famine mechanism for the 21st Century – one that enacts bold reforms and partnerships to ensure adequate access to food for all.”

Read the whole speech here. You can download it here. You might also be interested in reading some of Ms Sheeran’s posts on her Huffington Post blog.

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2 Responses to “After the Food Crisis: “Not Out of the Woods Yet””


  1. 1 Chow Chui Yin, Kuma 15/10/2009 at 5:51 pm

    In the article I read 10 billion people go to bed hungry and 1 out of 3 children under five is stunted. The statistics overwhelmed me and I tried to look online for more data about hunger among children. Here’s what I found:

    148 million children are underweight in the developing world: More than half of these children live in South Asia

    South Asia is the region with the highest percentage of underweight and stunting.

    (source: http://www.childinfo.org/undernutrition_stunting.php)

    The page doesn’t give a definition of South Asia, but usually it includes Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and if Afghanistan is included, it makes a lot of sense how South Asia has the most underweight and stunting children.

    A close look of the countries list and the percentage of stunting revealed the highest percentage holders are Afghanistan, Brundi and East Timor. Common denominator: war.

  2. 2 Corinna Yee 22/11/2009 at 3:34 pm

    After reading Sherran’ speech, it is very apparent that we still have many issues with food today and has been all throughout history. Although we are feeding more people, as the population begins to grows, food and other resources are starting to run low. One point in Sherran’s speech that I found interesting was the idea that “this battle is winnable” and it is. World hunger has been cut in half in the past decade and it can continue to decrease if we allocate all the food sources correctly along with better international regimes. Although there are many things we cannot control such as climate change, droughts, and natural disasters, we can do other things. It’s sad to see that money is so important. As Western nations flourish in their capitalistic world, the effects hurt those in developing country. Yes we have enough food in the world to end hunger but why haven’t we done so? Corporations’ uses world hunger as a sales tactic but in reality these companies set the cost of food so high that people in developing countries can’t afford to buy it, so are they contributing to world hunger or helping to end it? On the other hand nations such as Philippines’ and Ethiopia have the money to buy food but because these nations are trying to protect local business and keep food prices low, they restrict food exports. Although these nations are trying to save people from starving, by restricting food exports they are in some ways attributing to it; and as Sheeran proposes that there should be an immediate ban of export restrictions. Like climate change, world hunger is growing at an unprecedented way and due to poor weather we are unable to produce more food. As food supply decreases, natural disasters being to accelerate, and continuation of starving people will grow. This global issue like many other ones can be stopped, but once again who bears the responsibility? The Western nations? The WFP?


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