News about the effects of sky-rocketing food prices is starting to break through to the foreground of public policy discussions. While to this point most of the conversation has focused on the cause or causes of the increase, there are people starting to suggest ways that society needs to respond.
An article by Mark Trumbull published today in the Christian Science Monitor has some specific suggestions:
"Although poor nations are most at risk, much can be done by rich nations to avert a crisis and to set the stage for long-run solutions.
Some of the steps – such as boosting food aid – are obvious. Others are more difficult or politically controversial, but could reap meaningful benefits. Some examples:
- Ramp up cash-handout programs for people who spend half or more of their income on food.
- Curb or phase out government mandates or subsidies for using crops as fuel.
- Expand agricultural research and spread existing technologies throughout Africa, where farmers lag furthest behind.
- Prepare International Monetary Fund assistance to help food-poor nations cover rising trade deficits.
- Resist the temptation to tamper with the free-market price signals that will ultimately encourage greater food production. This means resisting price controls or farm subsidies within nations, and keeping trade open among nations."
Additionally the director of the USAID (US Agency for International Development) points out that the national security implications of the developing crisis. He makes additional recommendations about aid delivery mechanisms that are being supported by the US administration, and which may soon be implemented.
The article concludes by pointing out that this does not appear to be a short-term issue. It is expected that the present pressures will intensify squeezing those in extreme poverty more and more in coming years.
Read the full article here.