This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Drought in Africa; Corn Surplus in the US

This week brought two startling contrasts in stories about food. In the Horn of Africa, the worst drought in 60 years has put an estimated ten million on the edge of starvation:
A poor rainy season coupled with rising food prices have led to severe food shortages in countries including Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda.

Food prices are soaring with grain prices in some parts of Kenya up to 80 percent higher than the five year average, while in Ethiopia, the consumer price index jumped about 41 percent.
As a result, malnutrition rates are also rising, the UN agency said.
By contrast, the US reported today that corn prices plunged on news of the biggest crop of corn in at least 15 years.
The report said farmers in the vast crop regions of Iowa and Minnesota had been planting substantially more grain.
Corn futures, which were just under an all-time high of $8 (£5) a bushel at the start of June, finished 9.9% down at $6.29 on Thursday. At one point, the price was down almost 12%.
Wheat futures ended 8.8% down, with soybeans 2.1% lower. Analysts predicted the falls would continue when markets in Asia opened on Friday.
The Agriculture Department report that far more grain acreage is being planted than expected came despite recent bad weather in the US Midwest.
Will this eventually translate into lower food prices globally that will delay death for those in Africa? We can only hope so.

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