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Finance, food, and farming

Nicholas Lembo's picture

The ongoing financial crisis has had many effects throughout the world. Political leaders are coming and going from office, banks are being bailed out, and central banks are pumping billions of dollars of borrowed money into securities to boost investor confidence.

With such high-level people and institutions involved, the media often overlooks how the financial crisis is affecting people in developing countries. One of the most serious problems, besides huge worldwide job losses, is the continuation of the "food crisis".

Last year's food crisis never really abated. Falling oil prices lowered commodity costs just enough so that when the financial crisis grew really bad, the story fell out of the news. But, the food crisis is a continuing problem for the poor in developing countries and the financial crisis isn't helping. 


Not only are the millions being pushed back into absolute poverty unable to afford foodstuffs, but many fear that widespread hunger will incite political instability. In addition to these fears, the very real risks of greater malnutrition are just as frightening.


The lack of coverage doesn't make such hunger any less real.

The implications for governments are straightforward but difficult to implement; assistance should be directed through humanitarian and crisis groups to countries experiencing dangers of famine.


It seems obvious that food bought with aid money should be procured in the quickest, most pragmatic way - through local farmers. But the vast majority of food aid is tied to the condition that the crops be produced in the donating country. Such a delayed, backward process hurts youth the most. Children are most vulnerable to hunger as in its prolonged states, malnutrition is proven to have effects long past childhood.


In a time when international cooperation is being taunted as critical to ensuring the world's financial architecture, governments should not let such arcane aid policies destroy the world's agricultural architecture.