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Bruins, H. J. (2012). Risks to food security: Contingency planning for agri-mega-crises

Bibliographic details: (APA)

Bruins, H. J. (2012). Risks to food security: Contingency planning for agri-mega-crises. Mega-crises: Understanding the prospects, nature, characteristics, and the effects of cataclysmic events, 342-355.


Cereal grains constitute the most important part of our daily food-the staff of life since times immemorial. However, the current situation of food grain production in the world is dangerously imbalanced in both spatial and import-export terms, which is neither sufficiently comprehended nor seriously addressed by national governments. The global food infrastructure is complex and nontransparent. Most countries were basically self-sufficient in food grain production in the first half of the twentieth century. Currently there are about 105 nations including The Netherlands, which are permanently dependent on imports to have enough basic food for their citizens and for livestock production. On the other hand, there are only 5 countries that produce cereal grains significantly beyond their own internal requirements: United States, France, Argentina, Australia, and Canada. Significant food reserves do not exist in the world. Severe droughts in China, India, the United States, as well as other hazards, are likely to cause severe global grain yield reductions at some time in the future. Then the global demand for food imports will exceed the volume of food grains available on the world market. Very steep price rises and food shortages may lead even to large-scale famine. Financial reserves do not guarantee food grain imports and cannot prevent a mega-food crisis. All the 105 countries requiring permanent food grain imports are at risk, including Middle Eastern nations such as Israel, Jordan, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. Therefore, contingency planning is needed to establish significant food grain reserves by governments and private sectors. The number of farmers is declining sharply in many countries. Nations should safeguard the farming sector, reserve sufficient arable land and develop contingency planning to have the ability to shift local agriculture from flowers and nonessential products to basic food grain production in future crises years.