Sunday, May 8, 2011

Regional Food Security 1

Xinhua News, on their English news site, is reporting that "China, South Korea and Japan will each provide up to 200,000 tons of rice for a contingency plan of the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN) plus three, out of total allocation of 787,000 tons" destined for an ASEAN +3 stockpile. The idea is to manage price volatility and ensure emergency stocks of rice. Indonesian Agriculture Minister Suswono said "We will propose that it wouldn't be only for emergency situation but also for price stability. It means that we should increase the reserves in case of price volatility so that we could conduct market operation." 
It's interesting that  ASEAN has taken this action now, as International prices, Thailand: Bangkok, Rice (Thai 100% B) , Export, US Dollar per Tonne have dropped considerably since peaking in 2008 (peaking at $962.60, prices have since dropped to $507.25--which is still double the 2000 price of $243.50/ton according to the FAO). It means that the collective governments of the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (+3, of course) are concerned about continued price volatility in their collective markets.
The FAO is also showing that, worldwide, prices are climbing again, after having spiked in 2008 and dropping last year. Meat and dairy products have either almost recovered or have (in the case of meat) exceeded their 2008 price highs. Cereals are still down--lower than last year, even--but oils and fats have showed increases. All in all, this brings the global food price index to 164--the second highest point it's achieved this century; having started at 90 and peaked at 191 in 2008.
We can expect continuing volatility over the next several decades; global climate change has shown us increased agricultural impacts in (for example) Australia with drought, flooding, and brush-fires, and according to a recent report [.pdf] (reported by the CBC) expected sea level rise on the BC coast of a half metre by 2050, which will put a great deal of our local agricultural land at risk.  If in fact the report is correct when it says: "At the present time, scientific information on the expected changes in storms approaching British Columbia coastal waters and their characteristics, specifically on the intensity of the storms, their related wave conditions and the associated storm surges in the future, is only starting to emerge. Based on the available information it appears reasonable to conclude that no significant change is expected in coastal BC waters," one would expect that if sea levels have increased by a half-metre, any storm activity will have greater effect on coastal areas.

1 comment:

  1. Of course, biofuel isn't helping matters any either. Still, I applaud those countries for looking ahead. It seems clear that food supplies are going to become increasingly volatile, I agree, and that those countries most responsible for global warming are the least likely to change their ways. Canada, regrettably, is one of them.