The Prime Minister wants to tackle world hunger

I am pleased the Prime Minister has commented on the surge in food prices, and the impact this is having in the poorest parts of the world.

He is right to ask whether diverting food to fuel is a good idea in such circumstances. Why doesn’t he go further, and tell the EU it should stop its energy from crops programme, as it is another twist of the knife of high food prices in the empty stomachs of the starving world?

As the Asian economies flourish the world needs to put more under the plough. The Prime Minister needs to look at the damage the Common Agricultural Policy is doing to world food markets, and work with others to find a pattern of incentives to bring more land under crops, and a freer pattern of trade to give the poorest countries some hope.

The developing world needs to know the EU will open its markets to the cheaper food they can produce and sell for much needed cash. The starving world needs to know western politicians are working urgently to bring more land into use so there will be more food next year than this.

World hunger and poverty is the biggest international moral challenge that still faces us.

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16 Comments

  1. Acorn
    Posted April 22, 2008 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    JR
    Have been re-reading these from Adam Smith Institute and IEA, still make sense to me. A better way to use land, combined with a Land Value Tax to finance local government; that is something I would vote for.

    http://www.adamsmith.org/images/uploads/publicati
    http://www.iea.org.uk/record.jsp?type=book&ID

  2. Iain
    Posted April 22, 2008 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    "the world needs to put more under the plough. "

    The trouble is God has stopped making land a long time ago, but people haven't stopped making people but they have been agriculturally degrading the land we have. The issue is population and as such its about time some politicians started to tackle the problem, well no, just begin a debate about the problem would be a start.

    These are the population growth figures for Africa ( from UN) with a projection forward to 2020, in the 12 years from now until 2020 Africa will be adding more people to its population than it had in the 1950's.

    in 1,000's
    1950 224 068
    1955 250 253
    1960 281 659
    1965 318 937
    1970 363 535
    1975 415 824
    1980 478 824
    1985 553 255
    1990 635 685
    1995 722 669
    2000 812 466
    2005 905 936
    2010 1 006 905
    2015 1 115 358
    2020 1 228 276

    Mean while in the insane world of the British establishment, with an unsustainable population, needing to import approaching 50% of our food needs, is seeking to add another 10 million people to its population, just at a time when resources are expected to be in short supply, and not a peep of dissent from our politicians. Who needs enemies when you've got an establishment intent on destroying the prospects of its people and future generations ability to survive?

  3. Letters From A Tory
    Posted April 22, 2008 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    How about we stop paying farmers to stop farming as part of the CAP?!
    http://lettersfromatory.wordpress.com

  4. Adrian Peirson
    Posted April 22, 2008 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Communists do not like Private Property, they most certainly do not want local farmers having a Major slice of the fuel industry so naturally, the Govt and their Global Elite Puppetmasters are going to be putting it around that BioFuels are Bad.
    Food Prices etc are not going up John, what is happening is an Illusion, Public Borrrowing and the Printing of More and More Unbacked fiat Money ( Worldwide ) and issuing thin air credit is devaluing our Currencies.

    It is all deliberate.

    A World coup is planned that will bring us all to our Knees and force us to accept their 'New World Order'

  5. Matthew Reynolds
    Posted April 22, 2008 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    The stupid loony left 'green' lobby are at it again ! Their silly idea to have fuels made from what is needed to feed starving people when those fuels are just as bad for the environment as the regular kind shows that compassion & commonsense just do not occur to The Gaurdian reading jobsworths who dream up this nonsense . We need to take the UK out of CAP & CFP so that the subsidies can be redirected to helping poor countries adjust to unfair trade barriers being axed while the lack of EU red tape can ensure that the free market can help save UK agriculture . All the Soviet style EU meddling is destroying our capacity for feeding ourselves . Am I alone in regarding that as a sinister attack on our nations independence ? The more of our food we grow the lower the co2 emmissions caused by our food consumption becomes – sounds pretty green to me ? It is time to feed the worlds poor by axing unfair trade barriers & farm subsidies and letting corn etc be grown for food in poor nation's – not some insane liberal left pipe dream . Any right-wingers worried about my remarks ought to read The Wealth Of Nations – this solution is pure Adam Smith !

  6. Matthew Reynolds
    Posted April 22, 2008 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    The stupid loony left ‘green’ lobby are at it again ! Their silly idea to have fuels made from what is needed to feed starving people when those fuels are just as bad for the environment as the regular kind shows that compassion & commonsense just do not occur to The Gaurdian reading jobsworths who dream up this nonsense . We need to take the UK out of CAP & CFP so that the subsidies can be redirected to helping poor countries adjust to unfair trade barriers being axed while the lack of EU red tape can ensure that the free market can help save UK agriculture . All the Soviet style EU meddling is destroying our capacity for feeding ourselves . Am I alone in regarding that as a sinister attack on our nations independence ? The more of our food we grow the lower the co2 emmissions caused by our food consumption becomes – sounds pretty green to me ? It is time to feed the worlds poor by axing unfair trade barriers & farm subsidies and letting corn etc be grown for food in poor nation’s – not some insane liberal left pipe dream . Any right-wingers worried about my remarks ought to read The Wealth Of Nations – this solution is pure Adam Smith !

  7. APL
    Posted April 22, 2008 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    Adrian Pierson: "putting it around that BioFuels are Bad."

    Not just bad, but MAD.

    Diverting food production to energy production is insane. There is nothing wrong with producing energy from BIOMASS, but fuel from grain – my god, how stupid.

    Adrian Pierson: "Unbacked fiat Money [..] and issuing thin air credit is devaluing our Currencies."

    Yes, that is true. But food prices are going up, as someone else has posted, the population of the world is increasing, likewise their livingstandards consaquently the demand for foodstuffs is increasing.

    Meanwhile we have the CAP, which is nothing but a producer cartel subsidised by the hapless taxpayer.

  8. steve-roberts
    Posted April 22, 2008 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    …. find a pattern of incentives to bring more land under crops….

    No need to look far, that 'pattern of incentives' would be freely negotiated prices between buyers and sellers.

    …… a freer pattern of trade to give the poorest countries some hope….

    A 'free' pattern of tried, achieved simply and directly by allowing all owners to sell to any buyer if they can agree a price, would surely be better than 'freer'.

    What exactly has this to do with the government (Westminster or EU), except to require them to stop interfering ?

  9. GeoffH
    Posted April 22, 2008 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    "I am pleased the Prime Minister has commented on the surge in food prices, and the impact this is having in the poorest parts of the world."

    I'm not impressed. This and previous stuff on the World banking system, poverty and education in Africa and any other global 'issue' you care to mention are the last refuge of a failed politician. It's what they do to deflect attention from failing to do what is more readily within their capability of solving; like, for instance, legislating a rational and fair direct taxation system. Or reforming benefits. These are capable of being resolved but Brown's (and his predecessor's) prejudices get in the way so we end up with the current fiasco over the 10p tax band and some benefit claimants being better off than others in identical circumstances in work.

    They are mere opportunities for grandstanding. No-one is in favour of World poverty or whatever else is the latest fashionable cause.

    Apple pie and motherhood. Who can possible be against them?

  10. mikestallard
    Posted April 22, 2008 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations on being about the only politician who dares to mention the EU. Of course it is their directive which has taken 11 million of the 13 million annual tonnes of wheat off the market for biofuels.
    As to world hunger, it is politicians who are totally to blame. Rhodesia was the "bread basket of Africa". Darfur/Chad are political problems. Kenya is a political problem. Hutu murder was a political problem. China is in there exploiting people. We do nothing partly out of misplaced guilt over the Empire which, I now learn, was a Bad Thing (I was there!) (words left out -ed)
    Chucking more and more money at Africa when there isn't any left after the binge will only make Brown's bankruptcy come quicker.

    I loved the bit about the CAP – was it, as I suspect – tongue in cheek? There is no chance the French will give that up – ever.

  11. Abdul-Rahim
    Posted April 23, 2008 at 4:35 am | Permalink

    The solution doesn't lie in this government policy or the next. Capitalism has been in Africa for over a century and what concrete benefits has it yielded for the world's poorest people. Nothing. Same in the Subcontinent. How can such an archaic, anarchic mode of production be accepted as a plausible solution to such problems as hunger and world food shortages. The answer is socialism

    Reply: Is that the same socialism that left the USSR so poor and tramples on the freedoms of all communist subjects?

  12. Iain
    Posted April 23, 2008 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    "Capitalism has been in Africa for over a century and what concrete benefits has it yielded "

    Abdul Rahim it should be pointed out to you that Ghana at independence was a reasonably rich country, its states coffers were stuffed with the proceeds of cocoa, and economically I believe it had a parity with South Korea. The problems to befall Ghana wasn't capitalism, but that they elected a left winger for their President, Nkrumah, who pursued a policy of 'scientific socialism' blowing vast sums of money on one state project after another, beggaring the industries they had, and as is usual with the left, meddled with the constitutional arrangement , which economically and constitutionally destroyed the country within a decade.

    This sequence of events has been played out time and time and time again in Africa. So it wasn't colonialism or capitalism which destroyed the prospects of Africa, it has been the left wing Governments they elected at independence which has been the problem, and just as the left wing policies destroyed the prospects of the first country to get independence, Ghana, 60 years on we are seeing the same things being played out in Zimbabwe.

    I am just sorry the political right in the UK are so cowed that they let the left get away with such rubbish as you have come up with, but you can see the reason why the left spout such rubbish, for if they didn't the spot light would be shone on the disastrous effects left wing economic policies has had on Africa .

    PS May I suggest you read Martin Meredith’s very good book ‘ The State of Africa.’

  13. APL
    Posted April 23, 2008 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Abdul-Rahim: "Capitalism has been in Africa for over a century…"

    Er, where? You might just possibily me mistaking capatilism for colonialism.

    Even so, the colonial powers abandoned their african possessions over half a century ago. Africa has been subject to a varient of National socialism, International socialism and intra tribal slaughter ever since.

    India has not until very recently experienced capitalism either, Indira Gandhi for example, wasn't a capitalist. (words left out)

  14. David Eyles
    Posted April 24, 2008 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    The CAP is not a producer cartel. It is a product of the EU's obsession with interfering with everything and has it's roots in the post-war starvation that faced much of Europe after the devastation caused by the war.

    As British farmers increased output from 40% of our needs in 1940 to getting on for 80% by the early 1990s, you could argue that the prosperity and stability enjoyed by farmers because of subsidies enabled the agricultural revolution to take place. Personally, I think that some help was needed after the war, but it went on for far too long and the revolution in output would have occurred anyway. But that is the subject of a long and convoluted argument based around "what if" questions and is a largely sterile one anyway.

    Nevertheless, CAP has been reformed. Payments are still being made but are decoupled from commodity production. Payments are also reducing and are likely to continue to do so.

    Food prices really are going up dramatically and will continue to do so, not just because of biofuel production, but because of the rising world population. Much of the drive for biofuels from grain has happened in the USA because of the rapid expansion of GM maize production. Rightly or wrongly, Europe is sceptical of the safety of this and so refuses to buy it. This created a surplus of unwanted GM maize, rock bottom prices for the US farmer and created a panic for the Bush administration. Thus a new market was found for GM maize as the feedstock for biofuels and an internationally important food was removed from the market. This in turn put pressure on the supplies of wheat which has more doubled in price over the last 18 months (and has increased the price of my concentrate feed for my sheep by about £100 per tonne). To add to our woes, parts of Australia have been in drought for six years and instead of exporting 15 – 19 million tonnes of wheat per year, have actually been importing it.

    Whilst personally I think that a New Zealand style of almost zero support for farmers would ultimately be good for British agriculture and farmers, withdrawing all payments would cause a lot of intial hurt and this might affect our abilty to feed ourselves in the short and medium term.

    It would be nice to think that a free market would deliver everything to the developing world as well as cheap food for us, but somehow I doubt if it would be as effective as it's proponents argue. Many of the world's poorest countries which need foreign hard cash are also areas of high and rapidly growing populations. They are going to need good, efficient agriculture and good distribution networks to feed their own – as well as peace, sensible incorrupt governments and the rule of law. These needs are likely to be much more urgent than the establishment of trade with the EU.

    Reply: Agriculture is an area where we could manage it better and more cheaply if we looked after our own farmers at national level, rather than belonging to the Euro club. Most commentators think there should still be some subsidy, but a nationally organised one that meets WTO rules.

  15. David Eyles
    Posted April 24, 2008 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    I quite agree in principle, but the ins and outs are tricky and complex. Parhaps the best thing would be to just go for it and the Devil take the hindmost. The only trouble is that to looking after own farmers at national level presupposes that we have a government that cares about farmers and food production. Sadly that requirement is conspicuously lacking at the moment.

    It also requires that agricultural land is cherished as a finite resource and that too is not the case. We have plans for building on lots more green fields, so-called eco-towns serving no apparent purpose except as dormitory towns for larger cities and now, to cap it all, proposed flooding of large areas of East Anglia because of "rises in sea levels caused by global warming".

    As a rough guide, agricultural payments via CAP amount to about 10 – 15% of farm turnover. Average net margin is in the low single figures. You don't need to be an economist to know that stopping payments would bring bankrupcy to virtually all mainstream farming businesses. I removed myself from the Single Farm Payment system two years ago when it became apparent that the payments were marginal when considered against the hassle of complying with the rules. Although I enjoy a certain amount of peace of mind, it's very, very hard.

    Although I long for the day when we are unfettered by EU rules, most of my collleagues would argue the opposite, given the above and the track record of governement. I am also sceptical of David Cameron's willingness and political courage to bite this particular bullet convincingly. Today's U-Gov results show the Tories' lead to be by default and perhaps increasing cynicism over David Cameron's ability to make hard decisions.

  16. Adrian Peirson
    Posted April 25, 2008 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

    Do our Elite want us to be dependant or not ?

    Ever heard of Terminator Seeds Mr Redwood, these are seeds that will only grow once.

    What sort of a Monster would design a seed that a farmer cannot use next year to feed himself, his family abnd his country.

    These should be Banned from Britain Shores.

    Terminator Seeds, How the Global Elite Intend to take Absolute Life and Death control over Britains Food Supply.
    Note we no longer have a fishing Industry, nor are our rivers stocked with fish, the Government now wants to impose restrictions on fishing round our shores alegedly under the pretence of environmenmtal concern (the the reality is they want control over our ability to feed our selves and our families. http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=vihttp://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=284

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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