After Egypt's revolution, and subsequent new government, it's devastating to see that food could be the biggest threat to the nascent democracy.Â Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute, wrote a great opinion piece in today's New York Times detailing the complicated nature of land use and food in Africa.
What's crazy is that wealthy countries such as Saudi Arabia, China, South Korea, and India are using land in Africa to export to their countries, which leaves little land for the countries which need the food.
Global food prices are rising and exporters are shipping fewer commodities to countries in need. Countries such as Egypt, "the world's leading wheat importer," which depend on imported grain are concerned.
The issues for Egypt are:
* Population boom: 81 million expected to reach 101 million by 2025. Populations in Sudan and Ethiopia are rapidly increasing, too. As land access decreases, demand for food is increasing. * Agriculture is Dependent Upon the Nile River: Despite a 1959 grant through the Nile Waters Agreement that gave Egypt access to 75% of the Nile's water, Egypt lacks adequate access to the waters. Now, Egypt is competing for access to Nile water due to land and water acquisitions by foreign governments. Additionally, Ethiopia, which was given no access in the Nile Waters Agreement, is planning on building a dam that will fu * Need grain to make bread: Egyptians consume 18 million tons of wheat a year. Egypt subsidizes bread and 60% of the population is dependent upon this subsidy. That's almost 13 million people who need that daily bread to survive.
Mr. Brown gives concrete solutions for the problems. The question is, will these warnings and necessary changes be heeded?
Here is what Mr. Brown suggests happen:
1. Countries need to implement better irrigation technologies and switch to plants that need less water 2. Governments need to give access to family planning and provide education for young women. 3. The countries of the Nile River Basin should join forces to ban "land grabs by foreign governments and agribusiness firms."
The last point will probably require outside support, Mr. Brown wrote, due to the unprecedented nature of the deal. I hope that these changes happen, and that Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan and all the other African nations affected by the rampant land use and exportation will e able to support themselves in the coming years. It is crucial to the development and survival of Africans.
What do you think about Mr. Brown's opinion piece?