The time of climate change and food uprisings? Reidar Almas, president of IRSA

    Have we seen the beginning of the time of food uprisings? During the 2006-2008 food price increase, FAO real (deflated) food price index rose to 184,7 points (June 2008), and more than 40 countries experienced food rebellions. In March 2009 President Marc Ravalomanana of Madagascar had to step down in the midst of an economic crisis. The opposition claimed that his regime had opened up too much for foreign investments, particularly in mining and agricultural land. In November 2008 South Korea’s transnational company Daewoo had signed a 99-year lease for half of Madagascar’s arable land, the firm expecting to pay “nothing” for the lease (Financial Times November 18 2008). In a military backed coup Andry Rajoelina seized power and abandoned the $6 billion the controversial land lease agreement The deal would have turned over 1.3 million hectares to produce corn and palm oil for export at a time when one-third of country’s children weree malnourished. Daewoo officials have later said they are already putting plans together to switch their investment to more receptive countries in the region.

    Recently the 2008 food price peak has been surpassed, and at present the real food price index is up to 202,2 (March 2011). Sugar, fats, oils and cereals have increased the most, while dairy and meat have had a more modest price increase. The last month, sugar and oils decreased slightly, but both grains, dairy and meat is now substantially above the former 2008 record level. In some of the Arab countries experiencing insurgencies lately, protests against food price hikes is giving intensity to the political revolts.

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