Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Food Crisis Can Start a War

By TEMPO Interactive, Jakarta

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned about the critical situation of the world food supply. According to the FAO director general, Jacques Diouf, the food supply is five percent lower than last year. “This is also the lowest supply in the last 20 years,” he said in Rome, Italy, approaching a 13th FAO meeting in Brazil that will be held today until April 18th.Diouf said the crisis is due to the higher food demand in several countries.

The global climate change causing natural disasters like floods, drought, and storms has delayed food production. As a result, the price of staple foods like bread, wheat, rice, and milk, have increased. The price of wheat and rice is two times higher than last year while maize has gone up more than three times. “The world food price will be hard to decrease in the short term,” said Diouf. “The expensive price of world food threatens millions, especially those who come from a country with income less than US$ 1 a day,” he said.Diouf who comes from Senegal finds fault with the food policy of developed and developing countries. Since 1996, FAO has been warning about this food crisis situation. “No one wants to hear about it, now we have to pay for it.”Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Dominique Strauss-Kahn said the increase of the world food price can cause serious problems and effect the world.

It will create more poverty and starvation. “It can ignite riots and even war,” he said in Washington yesterday.In Jakarta, the Directorate General for Food, Agricultural Department, Soetarto Alimuso, said that the government is aware of this world food crisis. But he is optimistic that Indonesia will be secure because national supply and production, especially rice, is still sufficient. He mentioned that in 2007, Indonesia had a rice excess of one million tons. This is believed to be increased into 1.3 million tons this year. “So, we are optimistic that we will not have a food crisis,” he said to Tempo in Jakarta yesterday.The government will continue the food diversification program, especially for maize and all kinds of tubers. “So we will not depend on rice only,” he said. To minimize the world food crisis, agriculture minister, Anton Apriyantono, has been requesting that rice storage in the village be activated. Government is also encouraging the State Logistics Agency (Bulog) and regional governments to fill the food supply.


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