“The world is facing a global hunger crisis of unprecedented proportions in 2022 and we are at a critical crossroads,” observes the World Food Programme (WFP) in a recent statement. The WFP reports that 49 million people are currently at risk of succumbing to famine while 276 million others are facing acute food insecurity. That number could increase to 323 million later this year.
“There’s absolutely no reason to have people starving to death today,” said Brian Lander, the WFP’s deputy director of emergencies. “There’s enough food in the world to feed everyone, and that’s why it’s critical to act now to prevent starvation.”
Lander is right. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest World Agricultural Production report notes that total global grain production is slated to be a bit higher this year than last. Wheat production looks to be flat, while both corn and rice are up a bit. For context, since 2001, global corn production has doubled, wheat production up by a third, and rice production increased by nearly 30 percent. Over that time, world population rose by 25 percent.
So if there’s enough food to go around, why has the global trend toward lower levels of hunger recently reversed? “As of today, the world has no global shortage of food, but food is quite expensive and people’s wages have not adjusted yet,” said David Laborde, a senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute. “The main issue is that we have problems moving this food around, either due to the war or export restrictions.”
As a result, world food prices reached an all-time high earlier this year, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
The price increases are the result of a concatenation of events stemming from the disruptions caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including price increases in fuels and fertilizers and blocked grain exports. In addition, the WFP notes, “Conflict is still the biggest driver of hunger, with 60 percent of the world’s hungry living in areas afflicted by war and violence.”
In a world with more than enough food to feed everybody, despotic governmental brutality and stupidity are once again causing famines.