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Food & agriculture - July 18

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Biofuel demand makes fried food expensive in Indonesia

Fitri Wulandari and Mita Valina Liem, Reuters
Record-high palm oil prices due to voracious global demand for the oil used for food and now increasingly as a biofuel have left many ordinary Indonesians without their usual culinary fare.

Palm oil-derived cooking oil is a staple in the Indonesian pantry. It is used to fry many of the spicy dishes that are part of the local cuisine.

But the high price of oil has forced millions of poor Indonesians to eat their food boiled instead of fried.
(17 July 2007)

Eight more farmers commit suicide

The Times of India
NAGPUR: Eight more farmers committed suicide in the last 48 hours in cotton belt of Vidarbha taking the toll this year to 506, said Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti on Tuesday.

Of the deceased, four were from Amravati district and identified as Bajirao Ingle of Gorkheda village, Waman Dewan from Deolwada, Janrao Warhade of Phiggaon, Suresh Pande of Valruli, two from Yavatmal — Eknath Kale of Korada village and Vikas Punwatkar of Ramwaki —, Pandurang Ingole of Wadavi village in Washim district and Shankar Mange of Sawara in Akola.

VJAS president Kishore Tiwari attributed the fresh spate of suicides to reduction in credit outlay in the six affected districts by 40% by Nabard. A large number of farmers mainly in Amravati district had to incur extra expenditure as they had to undertake a sowing for the second time after heavy rains washed away their nascent crop, he added.
(18 Jul 2007)
Not a new phenomenon of course, but interesting to see credit availability be the trigger.

Ice-cream makers frozen out as corn price rises

Suzy Jagger and Carl Mortished, UK Times
What's the connection between ethanol, the biofuel produced from corn, and a cherry vanilla ice-cream?

Answer: the first is responsible for pushing up the price of the other.

This month, the price of milk in the United States surged to a near-record in part because of the increasing costs of feeding a dairy herd. The corn feed used to feed cattle has almost doubled in price in a year as demand has grown for the grain to produce ethanol.

Christina Seid, whose family have been making ice-cream at the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory for 28 years, said yesterday that she expected to have to raise her prices, along with all competitors in the short term. "We are holding out as long as we can, but prices will rise," Ms Seid said.
(16 July 2007)

Why Milk Costs More Than Gas

Nicholas von Hoffman, The Nation
The other day milk was selling in a New England supermarket at $4.79 a gallon. Down the street, regular gasoline was going for about $3.04 a gallon.

One of the factors driving up the cost of milk is the ethanol stampede. Ethanol, as we all have been taught to believe by now, will bring us "energy independence" and lessen global warming with no change in the way we live--unless we happen to be a small child in a household with a limited budget.

Children from low-income families are either going to have to accustom themselves to drinking gasoline or learn to sing "No Milk Today."
(16 July 2007)

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