New Internationalist

The Facts

November 1991

new internationalist
issue 225 - November 1991

FOOD - THE FACTS

 There is more than enough food grown in the world to go round.
But the rich world both produces and consumes far more than it needs,
while many in the developing world still go hungry.

Too much for health, not enough for life.
ILLUSTRATION: CLIVE OFFLEY

WHAT WE GROW
Cereal grains such as rice, wheat and maize are staple foods for the world’s people. Each region's share of world grain production is out of proportion to its share of the world's population.

[image, unknown]

WHAT WE GIVE
In 1988 67 countries received food aid.3 Some of them – Mozambique, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia – were in dire need of food supplies. But the appearance of others at the top of this particular league table has much more to do with their status as key Western strategic allies.

[image, unknown]

WHAT WE EAT
The World Health Organization recommends a minimum daily adult calorie consumption of 2,600 per head with variations for age, occupation and other factors. Yet average consumption in many poor countries falls far below this minimum, while that in rich countries is far in excess of it.

PERILOUS PRICES
Many Third World countries are dependent on the world market price of just a few agricultural crops. During the 1980s prices for many primary commodities fell to their lowest levels since World War Two. Despite some recovery, average prices are still lower than in 1980.

[image, unknown]

GROWING PAINS
In many developing countries food production per head has declined over the last decade, often because farming is disrupted by civil war.

Growth per head in food production between 1977 and 19887, selected countries
(including those featured in this issue).

Illustration: CLIVE OFFLEY
Nicaragua        - 5.5
Zambia             - 3.2
Mozambique    - 2.2
Bangladesh      - 1.5
Philippines       - 0.7
Ethiopia           - 0.4
Ghana              - 0.6
India                - 0.7
Brazil               - 0.8
China               - 3.5

1 The State of World Population 1991, UNFPA.
2 The State of Food and Agriculture 1989 , FAO.
3 Human Development Report 1991 , UNDP.
4 The State of the World’s Children 1991, UNICEF.
5 World Development Report 1991 , World Bank.
6 World Health Organization.
7 The Economist Book of World Vital Statistics 1990.

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This feature was published in the November 1991 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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