Saturday, April 15, 2017

Importing Food

Like many other things, food too has become a globalized commodity. Between 1961 and 1999, there was a 400% increase in worldwide food exports and food trade. After that, trade (and especially food trade) became more and more liberalized and imports continued to grow. Surprisingly, it wasn’t only the richer parts of the world that fell back on imports — poorer areas didn’t hesitate to invest in an import strategy. 

Food can be price sensitive and price and production shocks can spread widely and undermine food security, especially in poorer countries where people can’t afford price raises, even if they are temporary.

Imports suck out money which could be used for developing local, sustainable strategies. Especially in sub-Saharan Africa and India, there are opportunities to sustainably improve food production (through irrigations, more and better tractors, more efficient use of nutrients, etc) — but money is funneled elsewhere.