Crisis core — global food shortage

“What, aren’t all those prairies and paddy fields enough ?”

The fact that we are running short of food – it has been looming over us for the past few years or so. Yes, we haven’t enough to feed an increasingly dense global population. This actually did raise a red alert in the United Nations.

Many things are occurring these days, and these are the things which aggravate the situation.
Firstly, we have the usual cliché (and truth, I’d say) that the rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer. The rich, having all the money they can spend for themselves, are oblivious to price hikes, and if not well disciplined, they would most probably be ruled by their stomachs. Such people live by the mantra “Eat, drink and be merry.” Why worry lah, after all, they’ve got cash flowing incessantly from the automated teller machines! As for the poor, they are hardly noticed, hardly taken care of, and somehow find the need to fend for themselves. With a meagre salary, they search high and low for a complete meal for the entire family. Occasionally, we may find a few charitable individuals or societies who are ever willing to make the effort to help them; otherwise, hardly anyone helps them. The rather unjust distribution of the world’s goods has, without a doubt, worsened the situation.

Secondly, there is food wastage. Remember when we were kids, and our parents used to tell us, “Don’t waste! People in the world haven’t any food to eat, and here you are, wasting this much food!” Don’t get me started; there are many people out there who waste food. Yes, even adults. I don’t know; they seem to think that these poor, starving people are just figures. And so, feeling that they have taken too much, they waste. Dang, all that wasted food could feed at least 5,000 poor people. (I was guilty of it when I was much younger, but well… now I lick my plate clean-– oh please, not literally !)

Thirdly, we have the baby-boomer issue – now that is something which cannot be resolved. For the uninitiated, the baby-boomer generation, or Generation X, sprouted after World War II. Within that period, there were a lot of unregistered births. Now Generation X reproduces and produces more offspring, contributing greatly to the world population. Imagine - it isn't enough that we have Generation Y - in countries with very high birth rates, their offspring, Generation Z, are numerous. That also means more people to feed (we could say, by the millions !).

Next, think of the lack of charity among people, as well as the will to eat. This happens especially here. Due to our abundance of food, there are a substantial number of people who do not eat to live; they live to eat ! (Notice that all of C.W. Kee's drawings about open houses in his series "It's a Durian Life" feature people racing to fill their plates with food, and there'll always be this fat person who grabs the whole lot of food first.) They pile their plates during open houses, depriving other people of the chance to eat their fill; they get as many opportunities as they can to OC makan, and they never fail to put on more, and more, and more. And surprisingly enough, the majority of this lot of people do not even care about giving heavenly and earthly food to the poor. What happened to the give-and-take theory lah ? All went down to Indah Water already ?

And finally, we have the price hike. This issue has been mentioned, telecasted and debated several times already. The thing is, our meals are already getting expensive. Sooner or later, we may be paying through our teeth for a satisfying meal. Only a few countries obey the rule that the healthy level of inflation is around 2.5%. All over the world, inflation is high. In Malaysia alone, the level of inflation rose beautifully - it's now June and the inflation rate is 6% (yes, it was finally revealed, despite the authorities’ “efforts” to lie to investors about the inflation rates ; and it's estimated that in July it'll be 7% and August, 8% !). With such a high level of inflation, it is no wonder that prices are increasing too fast for our comfort. If we are already struggling to get a meal for ourselves, what about the multitude of people out there who are waiting to be fed because they don’t have a penny to their name ? Perhaps in such a situation, only a deflation can help us.

So, let’s give this matter due consideration: can it be resolved ? Surely it can, but with the habitudes of people out there (many of which cannot be changed), it’s difficult. One person or one party can't be doing the job of feeding so many hungry mouths alone. Yes, the food shortage crisis leaves us all dismayed. As much as it makes me dismayed, it makes me believe that the damage has already been done, and we are suffering the consequences.


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