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Feeding the world
Jeremy Paxman et al, BBC Newsnight
A look at the rising cost of food around the world and the protests and problems caused.
(15 April 2008)
Six-minute segment.

UN fears tragedy over North Korean food shortage

Tania Branigan, Guardian
The hand-to-mouth existence of North Korea’s 23 million inhabitants is at risk of deteriorating into “a serious tragedy”, the UN food agency warned yesterday.

Long-term food shortages have been exacerbated by last year’s floods, which devastated the country’s agricultural production, while key donors China and South Korea are expected to reduce their direct aid to the country this year.

Relations on the peninsula have deteriorated sharply since the new South Korean president, Lee Myung-bak, took power in February. Pyongyang is furious at his insistence that humanitarian assistance depends on the progress it makes in dismantling its nuclear weapons programme, a break with the previous “sunshine policy” of engagement.

The World Food Programme estimates that already 6.5 million people are short of food. It said state rations were dwindling while prices in markets had doubled – with a kilogram of rice now costing around one-third of a typical worker’s monthly salary.
(17 April 2008)

The Fury of the Poor

Der Spiegel (Germany)
Around the world, rising food prices have made basic staples like rice and corn unaffordable for many people, pushing the poor to the barricades because they can no longer get enough to eat. But the worst is yet to come.

Fort Dimanche, a former prison in the hills above the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince, is a hell on earth. In the past, it was home to the torture chambers of former dictator “Baby Doc” Duvalier’s death squads, the Tontons Macoutes. Today thousands of impoverished Haitians live in the prison’s grounds, digging through piles of garbage for food. But even dogs find little to eat there.

On the roof of the former prison, enterprising women prepare something that looks like biscuits and is even called by that name. The key ingredient, yellow clay, is trucked in from the nearby mountains. The clay is combined with salt and vegetable fat to make dough, which is then dried in the sun.

For many Haitians, the mud biscuits are their only food. They taste of fat, suck the moisture out of the mouth and leave behind an aftertaste of dirt. They often cause diarrhea, but they help to numb the pangs of hunger.

(14 April 2008)
From the Guardian: Photos from around the world of the escalating food crisis.

IPS – good coverage of the agriculture crisis

Inter Press Service (IPS) News Agency

Sample of recent stories. (Latest here)

CAMBODIA: Dwindling Fish Stocks Threaten Food Security
By Andrew Nette
KIEN SVAY, Kandal Province, – Soldier-turned-fisherman Im Vandang is not sure why there are fewer fish in the Mekong river but he is certain that the situation is getting serious.

HAITI: Food Crisis Sparks Anger and Despair
By Nick Whalen
PORT-AU-PRINCE – A green, red and yellow-striped umbrella is all that keeps Hernite Joseph from the searing sun as she takes apart a frozen chicken with a screwdriver and places the small pieces into neat piles stacked three high.

LATIN AMERICA: Food or Fuel – That Is the Burning Question
By Walter Sotomayor
BRASILIA – The difficult balancing act between fighting hunger, producing biofuels and defending the environment is at the centre of the debate at the 30th Regional Conference of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in the Brazilian capital.

SRI LANKA: Beating Grain Prices With Home Grown Rice
By Feizal Samath
COLOMBO – Drastically lowered wheat consumption in this island country — once running close to that of the domestically grown staple rice — has been welcomed by food security experts as the only way to beat the current rise in global grain prices.

DEVELOPMENT: Reinventing Agriculture
By Stephen Leahy
JOHANNESBURG – The results of a painstaking examination of global agriculture are being formally presented Tuesday with the release of the final report for the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD).

(17 April 2008)
About Inter Press Service (IPS):

We pride ourselves on being the only global news organization with over 70 percent of contributors permanently based in countries of the South. Most of our writers work from their own country or region of origin. Coordinated by a decentralized team of regional and senior editors working as part of the IPS regional entities, our diverse network of local stringers and correspondents is ideally suited to report on issues which affect the daily lives of the people they live amongst.

Our editorial products deal with economic, social, political and cultural aspects of development…