The Global Rice Shortage highlighted just how much rice the world consumes and needs every year. In 2008 rice supplies were so insufficient that some retailers began rationing sales. By late April 2008 rice prices had doubled from what they had been just seven months previous. There were many factors as to why this Global Rice Shortage occurred, many blamed droughts in Australia’s rice growing region but the fact is that many of the contributing factors are still issues today.
One of the contributing factors of the global rice shortage was the pure fact of supply and demand. The population was rising whilst rice production was stagnant, we could not grow enough rice to feed the amount of people that relied on it. This is sadly still a major issue that we face today. The population of the world now stands at around 7 billion people, a record high. This number is set to increase. It is being projected that the population of the world will reach 9 billion by the year 2040. Of this 7 billion people that are in the world right now; 3.6 billion rely on rice as the main staple of their diet. This creates a yearly demand of 437 million tonnes of rice, the world’s current capacity to grow rice actually only stands at 381 million tonnes per year. This shortfall of 56 million tonnes can actually mean the difference between life and death for some people.
Whilst this is all happening we also face issues from countries not being able to sustain high production rates of crops. We can see examples of this in Bangladesh particularly. India is a country which is growing, the population boom, urbanisation and rising prices of agricultural inputs have begun to impede food production. It has been predicted that the nation may fail to increase food production in proportion to the population growth; resulting in more people suffering from poverty and starvation. The issue faced in Bangladesh is not an isolated one.
There are many arguments that the world is currently in a global food shortage. Food prices are soaring, supplies are very tight and there has been evidence of intense food protests flaring up around the world. It seems that the world is struggling to feed itself. Not only is production not reaching the levels needed, but food stockpiles are disturbingly low. Some countries that used to be food exporters have ended up importing a lot of their food.
The U.N. estimates that by 2030 the globe will need at least 50 per cent more food. They also predict that in an ever changing environment new limits to supply will be created, putting even more strain on crop resources whilst the demand for food will rise exponentially. Global warming and climate change have also been highlighted as reasons why the world is struggling to feed itself. A lot of areas which have previously yielded large amounts of crop are susceptible to a changing environment; modernisation and urbanisation are also major issues facing food supply.
The global food system is a fragile one. It is susceptible to natural disasters, climate change, economic pressure, urbanization, population boom and varying other factors. The only standard involved is that the world HAS to eat.