February 23rd, 2011
10:46 AM GMT
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If you are poor, one of the cheapest nutritious fast foods you can buy is a “vetkoek” or “magwenya” from a makeshift shop on a Johannesburg pavement.

Magwenya resemble donuts and make for a filling breakfast for thousands of South Africans, who buy them outside taxi ranks and train stations.

These days, however, even vetkoek are becoming pricier. Food inflation has started to hit southern Africa, belatedly. Prices last year were relatively low compared to the global average because local harvests and supply conditions were more favorable than normal. Now, economists warn people living in sub-Saharan Africa to brace for food price shocks.

The cost of one vetkoek is now one Rand; that’s only about 13 U.S. cents but it’s double the price from 2008, when I took a mini-poll among vetkoek sellers during another bout of price shocks.

Oil, flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and sometimes mince, are the ingredients in vetkoek. Most of these foodstuffs will average a 10-12% increase over the year, says one business leader in the food industry.

Cooking oil prices are due to really soar, and further impact the cost of vetkoek, because sunflower seed prices were reportedly up more than 50% year on year.

All this means that the southern African poor will continue to spend most of their disposable income on basic food. Others will forgo little luxuries.

And if prices rise to the high levels that economists predict they will there is the expectation that many more people will be hungry this coming winter.

So my questions are: Do you think food security is one of the most pressing global concerns? What are the solutions? Are you already feeling the pinch of high food prices?

soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Oladipo Akinyemi Omole

    Re: US Health Care Legislation
    If healthcare is one of the priorities of the United States government, it follows that any healthcare policy or package should be available and affordable in the United States.Given that policy thrust healthcare should be made available through-out the United States.Some may argue that this policy is expensive and

    February 23, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
  2. Esther Phillips-Constans

    Rampant population growth is the world's most pressing issue.
    Unless you want to see Nation turning against Nation and Generation against Generation. This problem should have been addressed after the last big world-wide fallout (WW2). If we were really wise and intelligent we would have stipulated that no woman on the planet is allowed more than two children. Good luck to us all now: I have no children so they won't suffer what is to come. Of course I would have wanted some but I would have wanted them to be happy, healthy and live in peaceful conditions – none of this is going to happen and religion has a lot to answer for.

    February 23, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
  3. Susan Kirk - freelance journalist

    Most definitely one of the 'life threatening' world issues. I believe taking some of the burden off global production by fringe farming, more agribusiness investment, less population growth, more government investment in agricultural funding, more grow your own incentives such as Landshareaustralia.com.au. Less cynicism about global warming so that this can be addressed in regards to productivity in farming. Less food wastage, encourage people to eat more native foods. Less consumerism. All of these things can be implemented by us, right now.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:01 pm |
  4. Justina

    Mankind really need something far better than democracy.

    February 24, 2011 at 3:03 am |
  5. MikefromWv

    I would disagree with the author of this article. The most pressing problem, IMHO, is population control, not food security. Especially among the developing nations, where prevailing attitudes are that the more family members the better, as that provides more people to try and work to be able to purchase the necessities of life.

    Educating developing nations can also be beneficial, as it will help them to help themselves, once they get their population under control.

    On global warming, there should be more cynicism, not less, especially with regards to agricultural methods and fertilization techniques.

    February 24, 2011 at 5:25 am |
  6. Augustus C. Mamaril (University of the Philippines-Diliman)

    Just when almost everyone thinks that Robert Thomas Malthus is but another ghost of pessimistic economist past, and that it is safe to have that next child, and another one, and still another, and just one more, here we are, facing RISING FOOD PRICES.

    It is certainly no source of pride for us to have close to 94 million people in this country (which is just about the size of the state of Arizona). We in the academe try to send home the message that 2.36% population growth rate is no picnic. One time we made a quick survey (admittedly very unscientific) of asking everyone in the class to say how many there were in the family. Happily, most of the kids had 2-3 siblings, a few even the only child.

    Yes, even if food prices soar, the situation should be manageable if there are fewer mouths to feed.

    February 24, 2011 at 7:35 am |
  7. Huda Bakheit- undergraduate BSc Development & Economics

    I, like most people believe in the true importance of technological advancement. But on the other hand If we could halt ( and I am sure its quite impossible) some technological investments for a little whle and forward these to the sectors involving agriculture, i think we could solve the problem. Lets not try to figure out outerspace for the moment and direct that money to planet earth.

    February 24, 2011 at 7:40 am |
  8. carlos cuevas

    how come noone sees the real problem: SPECULATION?

    the mfs speculators in the chicago borse exchange are driving billions of people hungry, they are guilty of genocide.

    we the people should not allow such operations, such unscrupulous people. they should be wiped out.

    February 24, 2011 at 8:17 am |
  9. Filip

    My apologies for being direct and honest, but most of your comments about birth control etc are irrelevant. The fact that 1% of population hold 40% of world assets speak for it self. Modern economy, moreover modern society and mankind as we see it today is about to collapse since it it based on the most primitive urges and foundations. Shame that the poorest will experience the collapse first but eventually we all will. We already bought one way ticket...

    February 24, 2011 at 9:50 am |
  10. MarkS

    Giving to poor children and people is a good thing to do... but if the guys will just reign in their _xx_x and girls would say 'no' more often, and not keep having kids, maybe there would not be so much human suffering in this world. It annoys me that people can have 7-8 kids, then ask for help to feed them from western resources- because they cannot take care of them themselves. Maybe they should have thought of that before they had all those kids.

    What then? Feed the kids (a very good thing to do). Then they become adults and have 7-8 kids of their own that they cannot take care of. Feeding is good, but to solve this perpetual problem, teaching proper condom use and encouraging it may be a good place to start.

    I know of what I speak. I myself had one kid only, for obvious reasons.

    February 24, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  11. Sara

    How is it that the poorest nations have some of the highest birth rates? Does that make any sense? Shouldn't poor nutrition lead to less births? After all, infertility and miscarriages are all to common here in the good old USA. Why is that? Could it be that the U.S. allows poison(pesticides,herbicides,insecticides,dyes,sugar substitutes,hormones in meats and milk,antibiotics in meat and milk, plastic off gassing into foods and baby bottles, prescription drugs in water supply) to be put in almost every type of food available unless you buy all organic? The thing about third world nations including is although they don't have much of a food supply, almost everything they eat comes from their land, vegetables, meats, etc.

    February 24, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
  12. Ilan Stein

    Dont tell me that the wealthy nations of this planet do not have the capability to introduce agricultural projects so wide in scale while taking advantage of GMO to radicate hunger. It is an absolute disgrace to all of us that children die of starvation in this day and age.

    February 24, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  13. Roelof

    Supply and demand is an economic model of price determination in a market. Solution, increase the production of food. And maybe we should start eating things we're not used to, like insects.

    February 24, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
  14. Karimi

    Coming from Kenya a developing country i would say the problem of food i multifaceted.I grew up among a generation of Kenyans who had more than 5 siblings.My generation which is between 25-35 years ,we are having less kids than our parents,we choose to have 1 or 2.

    But what cripples the food situation in my country really is not the population but poverty,crippling poverty.We have people who have no source of income,most of our farmers are still using manual labor to produce food,government has not invested any money or put any effective policies in place to guarantee food security and changing weather patterns are wrecking havoc.Sadly in some parts of the country we have women who have never heard of birth control and have never gone to school too.

    Unless food security is tackled as a global issue we will always have developing countries getting out their begging bowls for food aid when weather patterns become erratic,and with global weather changes on all fronts it seems the tide has just started.

    March 5, 2011 at 7:36 am |
  15. deca durabolin

    Hello, it really interesting, thanks business.blogs.cnn.com

    December 1, 2011 at 11:15 pm |
  16. Victor Baxendale

    In areas which had access to coastal or tidal waters, 'fast food' would frequently include local shellfish or seafood, such as oysters or, as in London, eels. Often this seafood would be cooked directly on the quay or close by.,-

    Kindly visit our new website as well

    May 6, 2013 at 4:02 am |
  17. Trena Riebeling

    Data on global food aid deliveries in metric tons are from the database of the International Food Aid Information System (INTERFAIS), which was developed by WFP as a contribution to a coordinated international response to food aid shortages. INTERFAIS is a dynamic system, which involves the interaction of all users, represented by donor governments, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, recipient countries and WFP field offices. They are sharing information and data on food aid transactions.:'

    My own, personal web blog

    May 6, 2013 at 5:04 pm |

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