New Internationalist

The Facts

Issue 151

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The Facts

How the food is shared
There is more than enough food to feed everyone in the world - but it is not shared equally. The New Internationalist looks at how the portions of the global meal are divided, from cultivation to consumption.


What we grow

Rich countries’ share of world grain production is much larger than their share of world population.

[image, unknown]

Source: FAO Food Production Yearbook 1983


What we give

Food grain is given by the West not when it is most needed but rather when the price of grain on the world market is low. Thus the graphs below showing shipments of food and the movement of world wheat prices are mirror images of each other. Notice that food aid was its lowest around 1973, when there was a major famine in the Sahel region of Africa but wheat prices had reached a peak.

[image, unknown]

Source: FAO Council June 1985


What we eat

The gulf between the well-fed and the hungry is vast: witness Chad’s people eating only 68% of what they need compared to Ireland’s 162%. But remember that these are average figures - just as there are people on the breadline in Ireland, there are those who have enough to eat in Chad. So the extremes of undernourishment and overconsumption are even more marked than these tables suggest.

Lowest calorie intake per day, 1983

Country

Calorie intake
(per head per day)
% of requirement
1.
Ghana
1,573
68
2.
Chad
1 ,620
68
3.
Mali
1,731
74
4.
Kampuchea
1,792
81
5.
Uganda
1 ,807
78
6.
Mozambique
1,844
79
7.
Burkina Faso
1,879
79
8.
Haiti
1,903
84
9.
Bangladesh
1,922
83
10.
Guinea
1,987
86
11.
Laos
1,992
90
12.
Vietnam
2,01 7
93
13.
Nepal
2,018
86
14.
Angola
2,041
87
15.
India
2,047
93
16.
Sierra Leone
2,049
85
17.
Zambia
2,054
89
18.
Kenya
2,056
88
19.
El Salvador
2,060
90
20.
Ecuador
2,072
91
30.
Ethiopia
2,1 62
93
39.
Sudan
2,250
96
60.
China
2,562
109

Highest calorie intake per day, 1983

Country

Calorie intake
(per head per day)
% of requirement
1.
Ireland
4,054
162
2.
Denmark
4,023
150
3.
East Germany
3,787
145
4.
Belgium
3,743
142
5.
Bulgaria
3,711
148
6.
Yugoslavia
3,642
143
7.
USA
3,616
137
8.
Czechoslovakia
3,613
146
9.
UA Emirates
3,591
n.a.
10.
Libya
3,581
152
11.
France
3,572
142
12.
Holland
3,563
133
13.
Greece
3,554
142
14.
New Zealand
3,549
134
15.
Austria
3,524
134
16.
Italy
3,520
140
17.
Hungary
3,520
134
18.
Switzerland
3,451
128
19.
Canada
3,428
129
20.
Kuwait
3,423
n.a.
27.
UK
3,232
128
30.
Australia
3,189
120
41.
Cuba
2,997
130

*The estimate of a person’s calorie requirement per day varies from country to country according to the FAO/WHO assessment of the age make-up of the population. Children need fewer calories (they need more per body weight than adults but are much lighter). Since there are proportionately many more children in developing countries, this leads to a wide difference in the national average requirement The lowest of these in 1983 was Benin with 2,133 and the highest Switzerland with 2,696.

Source: World Bank, World Development Report 1985


Africa's crisis


[image, unknown] Vast areas of Africa’s cultivable land are unused.

Crops could be grown on 26% of Africa’s land surface but only 6% is currently under cultivation.


But some land in Africa is not fertile enough to feed the number of people now living on it.

[image, unknown]

Source: FAO World Food Report 1985; FAO Food Production Yearbook 1983


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