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Can Corporations Solve the Global Food Crisis?


Individuals are over-farming the planet, and more than half of the planet’s habitable land has already been settled. Extinction rates are roughly 1000 times higher than the natural background rate, owing primarily to the conversion of wild land to agriculture, the pollution that outcomes, and the conflicts. Despite everything, there are almost 800 million people who are facing food shortages, and 150 million children under the age of five are malnourished. We will be feeding more people in the next decades, at least tripling current food output by 2050, at a time when the greatest lands would be under a worsening climate emergency. (Monbiot, 2022) Concluding that the food system needs changing is neither novel nor contentious, and proponents of specialized diets or experimental agricultural methods have written a forest-worth of volumes on the subject.

Policies that led to the food crisis:

Many techniques of producing food are not sustainable in the long run. Without change, the global food system will continue to hurt the environment, risk food security, hasten climate change, and wipe out biodiversity. There are many instances of soil loss through erosion, loss of soil fertility, salinization, and other sorts of degradation. Secondly, the production of fertilizers and pesticides is heavily dependent on energy from fossil fuels. Furthermore, huge amounts of additional pollutants such as greenhouse gasses are regularly released into the environment by the food manufacturing process (Senker, 2011)

Neoliberal tactics that prioritize industrial efficiency, commodity production, and free trade ideologies that support agricultural and food policy, are usually referred to as “developed countries” which are fundamental contributors to this failure. Individual rather than collective land rights are preferred by the neoliberal paradigm because they promote economic efficiency and behaviour aimed at maximizing profits. Due to their extremist money-making strategies, the environment, the people, and the country suffer in general. Globalization has caused the food systems of various countries to become more integrated on all fronts, from the trading of raw materials to the manufacturing of processed commodities. Capture fisheries and aquaculture are essential for nutrition and livelihoods in addition to on-farm production, especially for the poor who rely on fish as their main source of animal protein. Many underprivileged groups get a significant percentage of their nutrition from wild foods, which increases resistance to dietary shocks. Therefore, if one nation suffers, other nations will also be impacted socially and economically. Food processing and retail, which together make for a sizable amount of global economic activity, particularly in high-income countries, add economic value to food once it leaves the farm. The significance of implementing a perspective on food that goes beyond the restricted frameworks of nutrition, economics, and food security is for policymakers to acknowledge food as a different class of commodity. However cultural, egotistical, and religious considerations also have a big impact on the supply and demand for food which in turn affects the basic economics of the food system. Furthermore, many people in middle and high-income countries partake in social and recreational activities relating to food production, cooking, and sharing (Senker, 2011).

The current crisis is unprecedented in history and particularly destructive to individuals who face a high risk of hunger due to several interconnected factors. Firstly, from 2006 to 2008, there was a food crisis that made it difficult for millions of poor people to afford necessities. International agricultural commodity prices are also relatively high and unstable as compared to recent historical standards, albeit having declined from their peaks in the middle of 2008. Moreover, domestic price declines have been slower. The average price of domestic staple foods was still 17% higher than it was at the end of 2008 in real terms. To live, low-income families were forced to sell off assets or give up necessities like food, healthcare, and education. Many households struggled to weather the economic storm because of their severe financial status. Secondly, much of the world is experiencing a crisis at the same time. Prior emerging-market economic crises tended to affect only one country at a time or a group of countries in a specific region. In such cases, affected countries used a variety of strategies to combat the crisis’ effects, such as currency depreciation, borrowing, or increased use of official support. Third, because developing countries are far more economically and commercially integrated into the global economy than they were 20 years ago, they are far more vulnerable to market stocks. Several countries have seen a general decline in trade and financial inflows, as well as remittances, development aid, and export revenues. This situation combines to reduce employment opportunities and funding of government initiatives that are critical for fostering growth and assisting those in need (Rosin, 2013).

There are a number of important justifications for and against various strategies for addressing the food issue. Some claim that using industrial agriculture and genetically modified crops to increase food output would help to fulfil the world’s rising food demand. Others contend that in order to increase global food security, a move toward organic and sustainable agricultural methods is required, as well as measures to reduce food waste and deal with distribution and access concerns. Governments, international organizations, and the business sector are among the stakeholders that could assist in reversing the slide in world food security. Governments may subsidize and encourage small-scale farmers, enact legislation to prevent food waste, and engage in research and development for sustainable agriculture techniques. Access and distribution problems can be addressed by international organizations, and sustainable agriculture and small-scale farmer help can be funded by the private sector. People may also contribute by encouraging sustainable agriculture, minimizing food waste, and giving their time to organizations that seek to increase global food security.

Does the food crisis lead to a global crisis and systemic disorders: Ukraine: Another perfect storm? IPES

Since Russia’s invasion, the Ukrainian people face grave challenges to their food security, with crops sowing down by at least a third, supply routes severely hampered by conflict, and over 10 million people now displaced. The conflict in Ukraine is also having a significant impact on the world’s agro-food markets due to the disruption of Ukrainian and Russian grain exports. Supply disruptions in the Black sea region have resulted in halted shipments, panic buying, and temporary shortages as a consequence of export bans imposed by 20 countries. Due to this, food prices have skyrocketed, leaving many people around the world hungry and in vulnerable situations. Wheat export prices reached a 14-year high in March, rising 20% from February. In contrast, due to the invasion of Ukraine and bleak harvest forecasts, maize prices reached their highest levels ever recorded. On 8th April, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported a third straight record high for the food price index, with prices 34% higher than a year ago. The situation could worsen if the fighting disrupts the Ukrainian wheat crops in the summer. Even though India has increased its wheat exports and some people believe that other countries will make up any potential deficits, the capacity of several wheat-producing countries to provide global supplies has been called into question. Furthermore, due to supply instabilities from Russia and Belarus, fertilizer prices may have risen at an unprecedented rate, potentially affecting global grain production. About 20 countries get more than half of their wheat imports from Russia and Ukraine, and more than 30 countries get at least 30% of their wheat imports from those two countries. As a result, these countries are particularly vulnerable to price fluctuations and/or supply shortages. Russian and Ukrainian wheat accounts for about 40% of all imports into Africa. Most of the grain imported by Eritrea (100%), Somalia (>90%), and the DRC (>80%) come from the Black Sea region (Jacobs & Clapp, 2022)

Countries whose calorie intake is heavily reliant on wheat and which rely on imports to meet those demands are especially vulnerable to global grain price increases. Wheat and wheat related-products account for up to one-third of typical cereal consumption in Eastern Africa, with 84% imported, mostly from Russia and Ukraine. In Kenya, the price of importing wheat has jumped by 33%. Price shocks are spreading far beyond those areas; before the invasion, worldwide food prices were already 20% higher than the previous year because of increased energy and shipping costs, and sanctions were putting pressure on global inflation. According to FAO modeling, in the short term (2022–2033), the number of malnourished people worldwide will rise by 13.1 million, with 6.4 million of those individuals living in Asia-Pacific and 5.1 million in Sub-Saharan Africa. According to new information from the UN/EU-led Global Network Against Food Crises, 40 million more individuals in 2021 than in the previous year experienced acute food insecurity.

So, it is clear that the Ukraine crisis is seriously disrupting the world’s agro-food markers and jeopardizing the food access of millions of people. But is a global crisis in food prices and security an unavoidable outcome of this conflict? In the sentences that follow, we argue that many underlying rigidities, weaknesses, and flaws in global food systems are exacerbating the effects of the conflict in Ukraine on food security, including reliance on imported food. Millions of people are now quite sensitive to shocks, and unless food systems are reformed and these flaws are fixed, this sensitivity will likely grow and intensify over the years.

In order to improve the lives of many poor people all over the world, food security is essential, according to the UN Development Program’s (UNDP) African Human Development Report. The achievement of other human development objectives, such as education and healthcare, depends on the production of food. According to Pedro Conceicao, head economist for the UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa, economic progress is not always a guarantee that poverty and food insecurity would decline. This shows that change is driven by accessibility, empowerment, and purchasing power and that addressing food security requires a planned, interdisciplinary approach (Kumareswaran, 2022).

Investments in agricultural infrastructure, inputs, and research will boost food production. This will enhance food security, particularly in rural areas. Malnutrition relief initiatives should be integrated with hygienic advancements, clean water access, and medical care. In addition to environmental protection, natural resource management, and the frequently conflicting pressures of large agribusiness and local ecology, development groups must handle issues of food security (Chen, 2022).

On the flip side of the coin, agri-business can be seen as the major contributor to food production. However, there is a lot of controversy surrounding this and the argument is put forth that agri-business has a fair share of cons, which outweigh the pros. In any event, there are high barriers to entry in the agricultural sector. Resource costs are high. Capital is costly (Goldsmith, 1985). In order to meet the needs of industrialized producers, infrastructure has evolved. Companies that can vertically integrate do so. They do want to keep the competition out, after all (Wilkinson, 2009). These corporations acquire a disproportionate degree of power over societal norms and business practices as they expand and monopolize market shares (Stanton, 2001) Farmers are unable to compete with the economies of scale that the privatized and monopolized businesses enjoy, which keeps prices low (Rosa, 2001).

What various stakeholders could do to reverse the decline in global food security and the adverse social and environmental impacts of the global food system:

To ensure that food producers have the correct incentives and the requisite skills to tackle present and future problems, a large investment of both financial and political capital is needed. Strengthening the rights to land and natural resources in low-income countries; and enhancing extension and advisory services in high-, middle-, and low-income nations. To address all facets of food production, from sustainable agronomy to business skills, it is essential to adopt tried-and-true models of extension and knowledge exchange to develop human and social capital. According to the findings of food system models, the rate of increase in yields brought on by new science and technology is one of the most important factors influencing the future supply of food. Using current knowledge and technologies, significant advancements can be achieved to boost yields, increasing the sustainability of inputs. While one technology or intervention is not a cure-all, integrating biotechnological, agronomic, and agroecological techniques can yield substantial long-lasting benefits. Assume that there isn’t much new land available for farming. Make sure fish stocks are sustainable over the long run. Encourage sustainable intensification. Integrate environmental considerations into food system economics both in high- and low-income nations, and reduce waste. Develop measures to collect progress and strengthen the evidence base on which choices are made. Expect significant problems with water accessibility for food production. Try to alter consumption habits (Senker, 2011)

A food system that is adaptable and resilient will be able to adjust to new problems as they arise and to changing environmental conditions. Given that we are unable to foresee all the circumstances or changes that will occur in the future, this is one of the most crucial systemic criteria for a sustainable food system. Both the biophysical and socioeconomic parts of the system must be designed with adaptability and resilience. At the very least, the following priorities should be addressed: decreasing overall food demand, gradually switching to less resource-intensive, lower-impact food sources; guaranteeing that limited resources (land, water) are allocated to food production as a priority over non-food uses; increasing economic access to food; and improving farmer productivity in the affected areas. A sustainable food system should not exceed the planetary boundaries in any of the major biophysical impact areas throughout the full life cycle of food production, consumption, and waste. Even though we should always aim for a completely net-zero influence on the food system, some concerns, including the preservation of biodiversity, should take precedence over others. Bringing the operations of the food system under the purview of the planetary boundaries requires many of the same strategies that are required to overcome challenges. Such challenges can be tackled by minimizing the negative effects of current agricultural and extractive practices; restricting system expansion and intensification, especially when addressing the global yield gap; refocusing resources on marginal lands as needed; and investing in the creation of new sustainable technologies. The lives and well-being of those who labor in the food system should be systematically supported. An unsteady foundation cannot support the construction of a resilient system. Therefore, the success of creating a sustainable and resilient food system depends on tackling the structural factors that support poverty (Gladet, 2017)

Food movements are united in their determination to prevent corporate control of the UN and its Rome-based agencies (RBAs), beginning with mobilizations around the divisive 2021 UN Food Systems Summit. This is despite the limitations of the multilateral institutions. Civil society pushes simultaneously to re-unify the dispersed activity of the RBAs while simultaneously strengthening regional procedures, taking advantage of the inevitable post-Summit void. Discretionary discussions and multi-sectoral governance models that began in cities and municipalities by the early 2020s were gaining support at the federal level. Over the past ten years, food movements have won a string of successes thanks to the expertise of municipal officials and civil society organizations, well-established networks of trailblazing actors, and the increasing visibility of cities and regions in international climate talks.

The goal of civil society is to make as much of the 720 billion USD in producer subsidies provided annually by agribusiness commodity supports for sustainable food production. Food movements employ battle-ready campaign techniques during the 2020s and claim victory in every continent after successful crackdowns on junk food in Mexico and Chile. By doing this, they generate additional tax money, reduce agricultural profitability (and hence its influence over policy), and produce significant healthcare cost savings.

Movement and its supporters in other industries focus on corporate tax fraud and avoidance to combat new types of wrongdoing by the bio digital giants that are currently ruling the market. The agro-food industry discovered that many governments are at a turning point on this problem and are prepared to act. The numerous obstacles to cooperation and to encouraging cross-sectoral planning. Creating new tools to disrupt corporate supply chains and penetrate closed network negotiations. Indigenous communities, for instance, connect with food and agricultural workers who have voiced concerns about the same companies and work with local consumer and health organizations to “blockchains” and protect livelihoods where livestock expansion results in deforestation and land appropriation. The world and its food systems will never be able to function safely under an agribusiness-led future, which would instead continue to fuel rampant inequalities, increased food insecurity, and livelihood stress all negatively influencing the environment. Contrarily, four civil society-led food system transformation pathways have the potential to shift USD 4 trillion from the industrial food chain to food sovereignty and agroecology, reduce GHG emissions from food systems by 75%, and improve the lives and livelihoods of billions of people over the next 25 years (Mooney, 2021)

OLAM: Olam Annual Report 2020 – Strategy:

Olam, a Fortune Global 500 corporation with its headquarters and a primary listing in Singapore, is currently ranked among the top 30 largest primary listed firms in Singapore in terms of market capitalization on SGX-ST. Numerous insurmountable developmental issues, such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and socioeconomic inequality, have been made worse by COVID-19. With the help of more than 60 partners, Olam will have directly supported 773,000 smallholders’ sustainability by the end of 2020. AgriCentral, our platform for farmer services in India, has helped an additional 2.6 million farmers, and as described in the report’s section on oil, we are expanding the possibility. (Olam, 2020)

Packaged Foods reported generally stronger revenues for the year, both in local currency and in US dollars, despite COVID-19 lockdowns negatively affecting demand for out-of-home consumption and severe inflationary pressures caused by the devaluation of the local currency in Nigeria and Ghana. Olam’s market strategy has helped them in positioning themselves correctly in the market and enjoying high-profit margins and market shares. They have increased market shares in all categories in Ghana and Nigeria through targeted distribution, communication, and activations. The highly successful introduction of biscuits in reduced box sizes made them more accessible to customers dealing with growing food prices. An experimental program for backward integration to grow tomatoes for the Tasty Tom paste brands through commercial farms and related programs for smallholders. (Olam, 2020)

Olam has recognized this risk as one that could result in a loss of market share. Therefore, a key component of our plan is ensuring that Olam and the projected 5.1 million farmers in our direct and indirect supply chain can implement mitigation and adaptation strategies to improve resilience and slow down global warming. Due to disparities in human resources, two businesses with similar physical assets and operating in the same market may have different returns. Recognizing these conflicting feelings, acting to support others in shifting from negative to positive emotions, and mobilizing and concentrating the energy required for both personal rejuvenation and organizational resuscitation are all challenges transformational leaders of iPES and Olam must overcome. Food security is at risk from unsustainable food production, which includes overfishing, soil erosion, and water shortages. (Olam, 2020)

Climate change due to greenhouse emissions will have an increasing impact on food production which in turn affects food security. Businesses in the fast-growing world of technology use it to solve some of these challenges, but R&D still has a long way to go to be progressive. Environmental factors such as droughts and storms are not in control of the business, thus they will need to work around them to be efficient in the production of food.

The non-market strategy proposed by iPES-Food aims to reform the way the food system is regulated, with a systematic focus on democratic involvement and the defence of communities and ecosystems’ rights. With a focus on agro ecological methods and food sovereignty, this strategy addresses the requirements of small-scale farmers and rural communities. Olam International, on the other hand, adopts a market-based strategy that focuses on employing solutions from the private sector to increase food security and sustainability. This strategy focuses on utilizing market processes and business tactics to improve the food system, with an emphasis on raising farmer productivity and profitability.

According to iPES & ETC Group, agribusiness initiatives like Olam International’s market-based strategy would only make social and environmental issues worse. They contend that this strategy does not provide food security in a sustainable manner and puts profit over the interests of small-scale farmers and rural communities. They also contend that an emphasis on raising productivity can result in the deterioration of natural resources, detrimental effects on biodiversity, and harm to ecosystem services.

In conclusion, Olam International’s market-based strategy focuses on leveraging private sector solutions and raising productivity and profitability, whereas iPES-non-market Food’s approach emphasizes systemic change in governance and the preservation of rights and ecosystems. The first strategy is deemed insufficient by iPES & ETC Group because they think it would make social and environmental issues worse, while the second strategy is attacked for putting the needs of small-scale farmers and rural communities ahead of profit.


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