This is part two of this diary with part one being published last night.
Egypt's government has been stockpiling food, according to the Rob Crilly writing for the Telegraph in the UK. They had protests over food in 1977 and 2008. Forty percent of the people live on less than $2 a day. Egypt is the world’s largest wheat importer today and uses subsidies to control prices for its 80 million population. Most survive on a flat, round bread known as baladi.
Egypt's efforts to stockpile grain has not helped as many other countries are doing the same thing, having the effect of pushing prices higher.
In October, the government announced additional spending of £400 million to bolster reserves and keep a lid on prices as the Egyptian pound weakened, making food imports more expensive.
Earlier this month, government buyers announced they had bought 175,000 tonnes of wheat from the US and Australia, providing further insulation against public anger.
That leaves the country with about six months' supply.
That has not been enough, though, to prevent three people setting themselves on fire and thousands protesting against President Hosni Mubarak's government. High food prices are among their grievances.
As a result, traders expect the crisis-hit country to launch a new bid to buy reserves and cool public anger.
The problem for Egypt will be that it is competing with a number of other countries trying to do the same thing – and have set off a cycle that is driving prices upwards.
Authoritarian governments have seen Tunisia as a reason to stockpile food helping to push prices higher:
Governments in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa have recently made large food purchases on the open market in the wake of unrest in Tunisia which deposed president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.
Resentment at food shortages and high prices, as well as repression and corruption, drove the popular uprising which swept away his government.
Youths reportedly chanted "bring us sugar!" in the demonstrations which toppled his regime.
It’s no wonder the talk in Davos is about how the very extremely, obscenely wealthy can spread their money around a little to help curb unrest. How much profit is enough? Apparently there is never enough as the corporations and financial institutions proved last year while they hoarded money, created no jobs, insisted on tax cuts that will hurt the rest of the country, and recorded record profits and bonuses. The Corporation is an entity not a person, no matter what the SC says; and it doesn't care about anyone or anything.
Rich Must Share Wealth or Risk Unrest:
What does this have to do with food? Corps control most of the food production in many countries. The commodities are traded on the market and, although weather does have a part in price, we are also using valuable land on biofuels. It takes a lot of oil to produce food and fertilyzer is made from petroleum products. And, Corps who produce genetically modified food are seeing world hunger as a way to push GMF to a world that has so far rejected such crops.
The worldwide food shortage — and the rising cost of food — are leading those who were reluctant to use or plant genetically modified crops to change their minds, according to a front page story in The New York Times. "Soaring food prices and global grain shortages are bringing pressures on governments, food companies and consumers to relax their longstanding resistance to genetically engineered crops," reports Times reporter Andrew Pollack.
Don't look for prices to go down anytime even in the future:
The outlook for the future price of food is not good and experts are saying prices may never go back down.
U.S. grain prices should stay unrelentingly high this year, according to a Reuters poll, the latest sign that the era of cheap food has come to an end.
U.S. corn, soybeans and wheat prices -- which surged by as much has 50 percent last year and hit their highest levels since mid-2008 -- will dip by at most 5 percent by the end of 2011, according to the poll of 16 analysts.
United Nations has issued a warning about the outlook:
The bill for global food imports will top $1 trillion this year for the second time, putting the world "dangerously close" to a new food crisis, according to the United Nations.
The warning by the world body's Food and Agriculture Organization adds to fears about rising inflation in emerging countries from China to India.
"Prices are dangerously close to the levels of 2007-08," said Abdolreza Abbassian, an economist at the FAO.
The outlook for world food production increasing is not good either, taking into account available land and rising world population. Also agriculture is an intensive water user and it could become a competition of resources. This could lead to greater world instability and mass migration.
The Green Revolution - high-yield varieties of cereal crops - resulted in enormous increases in yield per hectare. However, environmental costs are high.
Most arable land already is farmed, and the land area under agriculture had slightly declined. Improved agricultural methods that increase yields while minimizing environmental impacts hold the greatest promise for increasing world food supplies.
At present, humans use or co-opt a substantial fraction of the world's terrestrial net primary production, raising doubts about our ability to greatly increase food supply to humans.
Egypt is a good example for a reason the corps and governments may see need to change their practices. They have to know their whole stability rests on people being willing to tolerate their abuses. But I'm not the only one who thinks so. We may never get a fair deal from Corps; we may get a better deal but just enough to placate, nothing more, The Grand Inquisitor said the people would willingly lay their freedom at his feet for bread. This is the philosophy of Corps, authoritarian governments and banana republics too: just enough, no more, to keep you going, no matter what you have to give up for it. As Egypt proves, there is a breaking point. For them it could be as basic as bread.