Friday, May 23, 2008

The soaring price of basic foodstuffs in El Salvador

The crisis in world food prices is having a real impact on El Salvador's poor, especially those poor families in rural areas. The rise in prices of basic food stuffs was recently documented in a report issued by the Center for Defense of the Consumer. That report found:

  1. Among Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador, El Salvador had the highest price for corn, a price which has gone up 39% in the past year. In Guatemala and Nicaragua, the price of corn actually decreased over that time period.
  2. Although El Salvador had a record harvest of beans in the last season, the price of beans went up 60% in the past 12 months.
  3. The price of rice went up 66% in the past 12 months. El Salvador had the highest price among those 4 countries.
  4. The cost of a basic family's market basket of goods has gone up 21% in rural areas and 14% in urban areas during that time.
The result is hunger.

An article by Raul Guttierez on the IPS news service expands on the problem:
World Food Programme (WFP) representative in El Salvador Carlo Scaramella told IPS that the United Nations agency is carrying out a study to assess the projected impact of food inflation on the poorest sectors of the population in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

Although the results are not in yet, which means "the effects cannot be described in detail," it is possible to talk about what is already happening, which is that families have started to reorganise their budgets, he said.

"People have begun to have less access to food," and their diets have gone down in quality, as a result of their shrinking buying power, said Scaramella.

He also pointed out that the situation in rural areas is especially serious, because every poor household is now "much poorer."

"Today people can only afford half of what they could buy a year ago," particularly in terms of maize, beans and rice, whose cost has risen twofold, said the U.N. official.

What are the causes of this spike in prices? There are many -- the increase in the price of oil, the decline of the value of the US dollar (El Salvador's currency), the increased demand for corn caused by US ethanol/biofuel policy, agricultural policies in El Salvador which have not promoted food security, and increased demand worldwide for food. There are no short term fixes for the high prices, and few of these causes are within El Salvador's power to control. To prevent hunger, the government may need to focus first on providing means for people to get food.


HODAD26 said...

once again,
HEMP for food,fuel,fiber,biomass and more for links to real data

Anonymous said...

That's the road they decided to follow once they elected the stupid ass Saca.

HODAD26 said...

not as simple as that is true,Bush-Uribe's dope dealing buddies, saca de caca's
easy to blame the past,
best to move forward


El-Visitador said...

Average US farm size = 449 acres

Land reform maximum farm size allowed in El Salvador = 247 acres. Inefficient, improductive, non-economically viable farming.

Larger farms produce more food per acre and of course more income for labor. More food supply means lower food prices for the poor.

Land reform condemned Salvadoreans, and especially poor Salvadoreans, to high food prices, national food insecurity, and national dependency on food imports.

The people of the international ONGs and the 1970s do-gooder U.S. government that promoted the lunacy of agrarian reform in El Salvador left a legacy of 30 years of kids going hungry to bed.

May God have mercy on these ONG and U.S. people's souls, for they have a lot to answer for.

- * -

The average size of a U.S. farm has steadily increased from about 130 hectares (321 acres) in 1960 to 450 acres today.

U.S. farms are the most productive in the world and it is said that U.S. farmers feed the world.

Yet to this day, USAID and other US Government agencies still promote the criminal idea that land outside the U.S. should be taken from those who know how to manage large scale agriculture, split into non-viable small plots, and turned over to those who may or may not know how to manage a farm.

Is this an evil plot from the U.S. so that its farmers will never have competition from farmers from less developed countries?

U.S.-promoted Salvadorean land reform certainly makes it look that way!

Anonymous said...

Actually, I think the U.S. agro-industry that flooded El Salvador and other Central American countries with cheaply grown and massively subsidized basic grains and neoliberal free market doctrine that encouraged and forced countries like El Salvador to undergo a change from self-sufficiency in food production, especially basic grains and to get rid of IRA which use to regulate the prices farmer received for basic grains and what the consumer paid for the same have much more to answer for than NGOs.

Given the incredibly skewed land distribution in El Salvador by the late 1970s, which is acknowledged as a cause for the war, even by the US and USAID (ever heard of Roy Prosterman?, to try and justify pre 1980 land tenure in El Salvador makes you a Godless neoliberal sinner. You'll rot in some deep circle of your free market hell.

El-Visitador said...

«massively subsidized basic grains and neoliberal free market doctrine»

If you have a subsidized market, by definition you don't have a free market.

A massively senseless phrase you wrote, if I ever saw one!

Anonymous said...

I was in Comasagua last week, a community up in the mountains, and noticed lines of people in the streets, which is not normal for here. It seems one of the political parties, I'm not sure which, is giving away corn seed and the fertilizer needed to help it grow. Arena evidently had offered credit to buy the seed and abono, but the other party decided to give it away. So some good news on the food front for the poor in the fields. I believe this is happening in other communities as well.