Archive for ‘food shortage’


India May Have Won the Battle With Food Inflation Before the First Drop of Monsoon Rain – India Real Time – WSJ

Around this time every year, farmers and economists look to India’s skies, hoping for the arrival of the monsoon rains.

Late and less rain hurts crops and triggers inflation, goes the traditional worry, so every day of delay or deficit in downpours threatens to derail the country’s fragile growth.

The problem with this annual, rational worry, however, is that it’s just, plain wrong.

Good and bad monsoons in recent years have had limited effect on growth or even on food inflation, according to a report this week from Nomura. What is much more important in determining how fast food prices rise, the report says, is the minimum support prices New Delhi sets for certain crucial commodities.

So instead of looking to the skies, central bankers and other inflation fighters should be looking to New Delhi.

This year the monsoon is predicted to be above normal but much more importantly, the weather over the capital is looking promising. On Thursday, India’s weather department upheld its monsoon forecast and said it expects rainfall to be 106% of the long-term average.

On Wednesday the government announced the minimum support prices for the most basic Indian staples–dal and rice—and capped the increases at less than 10%. In some years when the government looked to help farmers it has ratcheted up the prices more than 15%, triggering inflation.

Source: India May Have Won the Battle With Food Inflation Before the First Drop of Monsoon Rain – India Real Time – WSJ


Chinese potatoes to chip in as water shortages hit staple crops | Reuters

Once seen as food for the poor, the humble potato is being pushed in China as a tasty, nutritious part of any meal as the world’s most populous country struggles with water shortages and looks for alternatives to the traditional rice and noodles.

China already produces 95 million tonnes of potatoes a year, a quarter of the global total, and is aiming to raise that to 130 million tonnes by 2020, government officials said at the World Potato Congress on the outskirts of Beijing this week.

“In China, the potato industry is no longer an industry for underdeveloped areas or the poor, but highlights the country’s modern agricultural drive and enriches people’s dining tables,” Agriculture Minister Han Changfu told the conference.

Beijing has begun this year to promote the potato as more of a staple food, particularly as a substitute foodstuff for grain, an idea that has taken on urgency as water problems threaten to undermine food security, vital for political legitimacy.

The North China Plain is suffering as a result of decades of excessive underground water use by both industry and wheat farmers.

In some parts of Hebei, the third-largest wheat-producing region, farmers have been banned from growing wheat in order to preserve underground water. Excessive digging for irrigation has caused subsidence and even landslides, the local government has said.

David A. Thompson, president of the World Potato Congress, told reporters that potatoes would serve China’s plans to improve agricultural sustainability.

“Potatoes provide more energy and protein per acre than other crops,” he said.

The congress was held in Yanqing, a suburb of Beijing around 100 km (62 miles) northwest of the city center, where a 12,000-square-metre international potato center has been built along with a museum for the vegetable and a potato breeding center.

“Small potatoes, stand up and become a staple to ensure the country’s grain security,” urges a banner outside the museum.

In an exhibition hall, potatoes are used to make dozens of different types of food, including popular local fare such as steamed bread, noodles and dumplings as well as western-style pizza and even cookies.

“Potatoes can make hundreds or even thousands of dishes, as well as more than 200 types of staple and western-style food,” said Zhang Aiguo, a cook at the exhibition.

“If more and more consumers get to know that potatoes have more nutrition, they are willing to take them. People nowadays care more about quality and healthy food,” said Zhang, holding a big plate of steamed bread made with potatoes.

via Chinese potatoes to chip in as water shortages hit staple crops | Reuters.


India to roll out $20 billion food welfare plan by December | Reuters

India will roll out its multi-billion dollar food welfare plan by December, the food minister said, allowing 67 percent of its 1.2 billion people access to cheap rice and wheat.

Labourers unload sacks filled with wheat from a truck at the Punjab State Civil Supplies Corporation Limited (PUNSUP) godown at a wholesale grain market in Punjab, May 6, 2015. REUTERS/Ajay Verma/Files

The previous Congress-led government approved the National Food Security Act (NFSA) in August 2013. India’s 29 states and seven union territories had to implement it within a year.

After missing several deadlines, only 11 states could introduce the plan and the rest sought more time.

“Finally most states have agreed to implement the NFSA by December, after the latest deadline ends in September,” Ram Vilas Paswan told reporters after meeting his counterparts from states on Tuesday.

In his February budget, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley earmarked 1.24 trillion rupees ($20.11 billion) for food subsidies.

Although Prime Minister Narendra Modi is implementing the expensive food welfare plan approved by his predecessor Manmohan Singh, the government is now trying to rein in overall subsidies to focus on investment in manufacturing and infrastructure.

via India to roll out $20 billion food welfare plan by December | Reuters.


China’s Bright Food to buy control of Israel’s largest food company | Reuters

China’s Bright Food Group Co Ltd SHMNGA.UL said on Thursday it has signed a preliminary agreement to buy 56 percent of Israel’s largest food company Tnuva from private equity firm ApaxAPAX.UL, extending a string of overseas acquisitions.

bright foods

bright foods (Photo credit: Runs With Scissors)

A spokesman for Bright Food did not disclose how much it has agreed to pay, but Israeli news websites reported late on Wednesday the deal valued all of Tnuva, a specialist dairy produce supplier, at 8.6 billion shekels ($2.5 billion).

When Apax and Israeli investment company Mivtach Shamir Holdings Ltd (MISH.TA) acquired control of Tnuva in 2008, the company was valued at $989 million in total.

“Israel is a country with highly developed agriculture and animal husbandry techniques. Tnuva, as Israel’s largest food company, has a long history and various products and large market share,” the Bright Food spokesman said in a text message sent to Reuters.

Shanghai-based Bright Food has not yet reached an agreement with Israeli investment company Mivtach Shamir Holdings Ltd (MISH.TA), which owns 21 percent of Tnuva, the Calcalist website said. A group of kibbutzim, or cooperative farms, own the rest of Tnuva.

In January Bright Food bought Australian dairy company Mundella Foods. It previously bought Australia’s Manassen Foods, which supplies food brands to Australian retailers, and New Zealand’s Synlait Milk Ltd (SML.NZ).

via China’s Bright Food to buy control of Israel’s largest food company | Reuters.

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BBC News – China cancels Thailand rice deal amid probe

Thailand has announced that a contract to sell more than a million tonnes of rice to China has been cancelled.

File photo: Rice stockpile in Thailand

The Ministry of Commerce said the Chinese government pulled out of the the deal to buy 1.2 million tonnes of rice because of an ongoing probe.

Thailand\’s Anti-Corruption Commission is investigating PM Yingluck Shinawatra over a rice purchase policy.

The policy has been a factor in the anti-government protests that have sparked Thailand\’s political crisis.

The deal with China would have been the first stage of what the Thai government was hoping to be a larger shipment of of rice this year.

\”China lacks confidence to do business with us after the National Anti-Corruption Commission started investigations into the transparency of rice deals between Thailand and China,\” Thai Commerce Minister Niwatthamrong Bunsongphaisan said, announcing the cancellation.

via BBC News – China cancels Thailand rice deal amid probe.

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* Should China Try to Feed Itself?

BusinessWeek: “For China’s leaders, there was one problem in an otherwise benign inflation report for April. First, the good news: The consumer price index rose 2.4 percent, about in line with economists’ expectations. While inflation accelerated from 2.1 percent in March, the April figure is still well below the government’s target of 3.5 percent for the year.

An aerial view of the fish farms in the countryside next to Hefei, in central China's Anhui province

So what’s the catch? Food prices. With vegetables getting more expensive, the cost of eating jumped 4 percent last month, compared with an increase of 2.7 percent in March. The rising cost of food could create more difficulties in the coming months, the People’s Bank of China warned yesterday.

The Chinese government is well aware of the political sensitivity of food, which is one reason the country is sticking to a policy that promotes self-sufficiency. The country’s farmers met about 98 percent of China’s demand for grain last year, Vice Minister of Agriculture Chen Xiaohua said at a news conference in March.

If the country wants to ensure lower prices, though, China should rethink that self-sufficiency policy, argues Paul Conway, the vice chairman of Cargill. “As they become richer and more urbanized, they will have to become less self-sufficient in grain,” he says. The Minnesota-based agribusiness giant is a major player in exporting wheat, corn, and soybeans from the U.S. and other countries in the Western Hemisphere to Asia, so he certainly has a good business reason for wanting China to buy more food from abroad.

But, Conway says, China and other Asian countries with huge populations, such as India and Indonesia, stand to benefit from reducing their reliance on local farmers. “There is still a tendency in some parts of Asia to food security through food self-sufficiency,” he says from Singapore, where he gave a speech on May 8 about food security. Giving up on that idea and instead importing food from low-cost producers in the U.S., Canada, Brazil, and Argentina would be “the best guarantee of Asian food security,” he says. “For grains and oilseeds, Asia’s self-interest is to have access to the surpluses from the Western Hemisphere.”

In order to bolster its food security, China also should be investing in agricultural infrastructure in other countries, Conway says. Just as Chinese investors are helping to fund transportation projects in African countries that supply minerals to China’s factories, the country should also be putting money into projects that could make it easier for farmers in places like Brazil to get their crops to seaports. That, he argues, makes more sense than just buying farms overseas. “From a food security standpoint, the fact that you own land in another country doesn’t guarantee you anything. Borders can always be closed. If China wants to improve the flow of grains, instead of investing in land, invest in infrastructure.””

via Should China Try to Feed Itself? – Businessweek.


* Indian farm sector to lose 4 million workers in 12th Plan period

What the Plan does not say is where the 4m surplus farm workers are going to get employment.

The Hindu: “The country’s agriculture sector is projected to lose four million workers in the 12th Plan period, the government informed Parliament on Tuesday.

The farm sector had contributed 8.8 million job opportunities during the ten year period from 1993-95 to 2004-05. File photo: G.N.Rao

As per the 11th Five Year Plan document of the Planning Commission, the agriculture sector “is projected to contribute no increase in the Eleventh Plan and a net decrease of 4 million agricultural workers over the Twelfth plan period” Minister of State for Agriculture Tariq Anwar said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha.

There is no potential for massive increase in employment in agriculture sector. However, indirect employment is likely to increase with rise in farm production particularly in agro-processing and in support infrastructure, he said.

The sector had contributed 8.8 million job opportunities during the ten year period from 1993-95 to 2004-05, he added.

The Minister said several schemes like National Food Security Mission, Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana and Gramin Bhandaran Yojana launched in the agricultural sector aim at increasing production and in the process, create additional income and employment opportunities.

via Farm sector to lose 4 million workers in 12th Plan period – The Hindu.


* 2,400 MTonnes wheat rotting in govt granaries for past 2 years

Times of India: “India may be facing the shame of 47% of its children suffering from malnutrition and about 30% of its population living below poverty line, but food continues to rot in government granaries. The Food Corporation of India (FCI) has admitted in data accessed through RTI that the amount of damaged wheat has increased from 2,010 million tonnes (MT) in 2009-2010 to 2,401.61 MT (2011-2012). The country has already suffered a loss of 932.46 MT damaged wheat this year, with the worst affected being Bihar.

Food Corporation of India

Food Corporation of India (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The data has been given in response to an application filed by Uttar Pradesh resident, Kush Kalra. Till February, 2013, the FCI has on its hands “non-issuable wheat” or damaged wheat amounting to 932.46 MT. Bihar has the highest quantity of rotting wheat at 306.5 MT, followed by Uttarakhand (221 MT) and Gujarat (195 MT).

The total damaged wheat in 2009-2010 was 2010 MT. This came down marginally to 1997 MT in 2010-2011, but again rose to 2401.61 MT in 2011-2012.

According to data, the worst offender in 2011-2012 was Maharashtra (1444 MT), while in 2010-2011 Uttarakhand recorded (931 MT) of damaged wheat. Gujarat had the maximum (785 MT) damaged wheat in 2009-2010.

Ironically, India has lagged in improving its Global Hunger Index (GHI) score despite strong economic growth and food production. According to the 2012 Global Hunger Index report, 43.5% of children below five years are underweight, which accounts for almost two-thirds of the country’s alarmingly high GHI score. From 2005-10, India ranked second to last on child underweight — below Ethiopia, Niger, Nepal and Bangladesh.

Limited access for farmers to the open market, lack of covered or adequate storage space for grains have only served to compound the problem. As on April 1, 2013, FCI has covered godown space with capacity to store 33.99 MT that falls woefully short of the demand.”

via 2,400 MT wheat rotting in govt granaries for past 2 years – The Times of India.

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