Shortage of food staples felt around the world- 10 Apr 2008  
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From Mexico to Egypt to China, an emerging rice shortage is directly affecting people’s lives in dozens of countries. Rice is the staple food of about half the world’s population. With reduced crop yields and international storage levels at their lowest levels since the 1980s, prices inevitably have been soaring.

Supreme Master Television correspondents from around the world bring us this report on the global food issue.

Restaurant owner in UK: Most of the paddy fields were flooded. So the prices have more than doubled. They came from 16, 17 pounds for 20 kilos to 35, 40 pounds for 20 kilos.

Yesterday, the head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Jacques Diouf, called for a summit of world leaders to discuss what he called an "emergency" global food shortage. Nations such as China, Egypt, India and Cambodia have curbed their rice exports. Âu Lạc (Vietnam), the world’s third largest rice exporter, is planning to reduce shipments by 11%.

Dr. Opawadee Khemtong - Professor of Agriculture, Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University, Thailand

Dr. Khemtong, professor of agriculture in Thailand: Vietnam who is the second, maybe second from Thailand, in rice production and exporting rice to the world market. They face the problem of global warming so they cannot produce for export.

Consumer in Âu Lạc (Vietnam): As I know recently, the price of all goods price have risen, especially the price of rice is rising daily since the beginning of the year till now. It has affected my own life and the whole society.

Meanwhile, importers are looking to their rice-producing neighbors for help, with a shared concern about the reduced crop yields due to droughts and floods. Ultimately, the effects of climate change in distant farmlands are being felt by consumers in Hong Kong.

Did the greenhouse effect cause more natural disasters, which reduced the crops yields?

Rice retailer in Hong Kong: That is what they say.

Who are they?

Rice retailer in Hong Kong: The rice suppliers. They said the harvest was reduced. It’s the crop failures in Australia and Indonesia. Now, the suppliers are also out of stock.

Experts say one solution to help ease the shortage of rice and other grains is to demand less meat, as a huge proportion of produced rice is used in livestock feed.

Consumer in Mexico City: It is truly bad that the rice is being used to give to livestock - this is using up nature.

Vegetarian grocery shop owner in Hong Kong: There are a lot of reasons for the price increase, no one single factor can explain all. But if we can learn to be more green and help ourselves, it will help.

What do you mean by help ourselves?

Vegetarian grocery shop owner in Hong Kong: It means healthier eating, and healthier consumption. Therefore, vegetarianism is more green. It has a lot of chain effects. Be vegetarian (vegan), treasure all grains, know how to use resources more mindfully, and the planet will be more healthy.

Due to the emergency of global warming, are you willing to eat less meat or adopt a vegetarian (vegan) diet?

Consumer in Formosa (Taiwan): Of course I am! Also I am considering the cost. Basically, meat is more expensive than vegetarian (vegan) food.

We pray that societies will work together to ensure the safety of the most vulnerable people as we find ways to help the food production return to normalcy.


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