Food Prices Go Down; Hunger Goes UpBy Sofía Hanna | Fri, 08/20/2021 - 14:43
The price of food worldwide decreased in June, which is a good opportunity to level off the "hunger pandemic" caused by COVID-19. Mexico has been one of the countries with the greatest repercussions in terms of hunger, as the country is home to half of the people in Latin America and the Caribbean who still live in extreme poverty.
The Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) benchmark report shows that food prices are decreasing. In June 2021 the food price index averaged at 123 points, 1.2 percent less than in the previous month but still 31 percent above its level in the same period of 2020. This decline also led to a decline in the prices of most cereals, vegetable oils and dairy products. Cereals were 3 percent less expensive during July 2021 than the previous month, dairy products were 2.8 percent less expensive and vegetable oils reached their lowest price in five months, with a decrease of 1.4 percent. On the other hand, the sugar price index increased 1.7 percent and the price of meat rose slightly.
According to OXFAM, since the pandemic began, poor communities around the world have repeatedly been sending a clear and urgent message: "We will die sooner from hunger than from COVID-19." Deaths from hunger are exceeding those caused by the virus and it becoming increasingly worse. By the end of 2021, the number of people in extreme poverty is expected to reach 745 million, 100 million more since the pandemic began. Among the regions and countries where the food crisis has worsened due to the pandemic, there are some places where the situation is particularly alarming: Yemen, Central African Republic, Afghanistan, Venezuela, the Sahel region in West Africa, Ethiopia, Sudan, Sudan of the South and Syria. Hunger has also intensified in new hotspots like Brazil, India and South Africa. "More than a year and a half after the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, the deterioration of the economy caused by lockdowns and the closure of borders, businesses and markets has led tens of millions of people to go hungry, especially the most disadvantaged people," according to OXFAM. In fact, the most recent closure of the Mexico-US border is worrying businesses and people who depend on cross-border trade, as previously reported by MBN.
In addition to the price of food, another factor that influences world hunger, according to Unicef, is political instability since the weakness of the institutions prevents them from taking measures to fight against malnutrition of the population. Another factor is climate change, which may force over 9.2 million people to move due to droughts that damage crops and reduce drinking water. Finally, insecurity is endangering the world's population and COVID-19 keeps brings insecurity with no end date, affecting subsistence agriculture.