Posts Tagged ‘Food Supply’

The virus and the world food supply chain

September 2, 2020

The fight against the coronavirus has resulted in collateral damage to world food supplies.  Or rather it has revealed underlying weaknesses in the world economic system.

The world produces enough food that no-one need go hungry.  An expert quoted by National Public Radio said average world food prices are lower than they were a century ago, despite the huge increase in world population.

The question is how to get the food to those who need it and who pays for it.  There is nothing in the nature of things that makes this impossible, but only the structure of the world economy.


‘Instead of Coronoavirus, the Hunger Will Kill Us’; A Global Food Crisis Looms by Abdi Latif Dahir for the New York Times.

COVID-19 pandemic leads to huge spike in world hunger by Kevin Martinez for thr World Socialist Web Site.

COVID-19 risks to global food security by David Laborde, Will Martin, Johan Swinnen and Rob Vos for Science magazine.

Why are small farmers more productive?

April 13, 2015

A study by an organization called GRAIN concludes that, although small farmers produce more than half the world’s food, they own only a quarter of the world’s land, and that their share is shrinking.

I think the same principle is at work here, to a lesser extent, as was the case in the USSR and China under Stalin and Mao, when forced collective farming resulted in starvation.

On small farms, owners are the same as managers, and, even if they have hired hands, they are not separate from the workers.  Naturally they will work harder, pay closer attention and exercise more independent judgment than if they were employees of a big corporation or a government.

Why, then, are large farming operations crowding out the small independent farmers?  My guess is that it is because they have economies of scale that lower operating costs per acre, more bargaining power in dealing with lenders, suppliers and food buyers, and, last but far from least, more influence with governments.


GRAIN – hungry for land: small farmers feed the world with less than a quarter of all farmland.


All the fish in the ocean are in peril

November 11, 2013


Independent marine biologists—those not working for fishing companies—say the world’s fishing stocks are in peril, mainly from overfishing.  The chart above, from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, shows their best information on what is happening to the world’s stocks of ocean fish.   It’s not good.

We Americans could get along without eating fish, but many people in the world could not.  And the oceans, which cover three-quarters of the world’s surface, are a vital part of the world’s ecology.  We don’t know how it would be affected by a large die-off of marine life.

The idea that humanity could lose virtually all of the world’s ocean fish is so staggering I can’t get my mind around it, let alone make a constructive suggestion.

What’s needed is some sort of global authority with the power to set rules for catching and fish enforce them.  Unfortunately the world is going in the opposite direction.  National governments are giving up their sovereignty, all right, but to global organizations set up to protect corporations against undue environmental restrictions.