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Food prices to spike with violent weather


A report from Oxfam says food prices and extreme weather are on the rise
A report from Oxfam says food prices and extreme weather are on the rise

Staff writers

September 5, 2012 — In a new report, Oxfam says staple food prices may double within the next two decades due to climate change and an increase in extreme weather.

An historic drought impacted the United States this year
An historic drought impacted the United States this year

Rising temperatures and rising sea levels are not the only concern when it comes to climate change, according to Oxfam. Their new report, 'Extreme Weather, Extreme Prices', paints a grim picture of the rising cost of food.

"The significant increase in violent weather on the planet is having a huge and immediate impact on food prices," says Robert Fox, Executive Director of Oxfam Canada. "It's only going to get worse in the next number of years."

Oxfam says droughts, floods, hurricanes and cyclones are affecting food production around the world. The result will be more people hungry and scrambling to feed their families in the coming years. 

"We're already seeing a difference. If you look at the United States over the last couple of months, the continuous drought has had a significant impact on the corn crop. And in Russia, the Ukraine and Kazakhstan, there's been a major impact on wheat production," Fox explains. "Corn prices are up 50%, wheat 55%. For Canadians who spend 15-20% of their income on food, this is a big problem." 

Fox adds that it's an even bigger problem for people living in Africa, Asia and Latin America, who spend 60, 70, 80% of their cash income on food. "In that case, when the price of food goes up 50-100%, that's not about moving from a more expensive to less expensive brand. It means there are many families going without eating." 

The report focuses on how even more violent weather is expected by the year 2030, which in turn will continue to cause a spike in food prices. Fox says floods and drought are becoming more frequent around the world, and farmers are struggling to figure out when to plant their crop.

Floods have been a major problem in south Asia in recent years
Floods have been a major problem in south Asia in recent years

"They don't know when to plant, and when they do the seeds get baked into dry earth or washed away by floods," he tells The Weather Network. "No rain falls, or too much falls too quickly." 

So, what can Canadians do?

Fox says support for farmers will be critical so that they can adapt their methods going forward. He says all families will be affected by rising food costs, but poor families will be hit the hardest. 

"We must recognize that as food prices spike, families that spend most income on food need some extra money," Fox explains. "We need to mobilize Canadians and our government to take the action required to support people through the situation to try to address the situation of climate change and increasingly violent weather." 

You can read more about Oxfam's report, Extreme Weather, Extreme Prices at their website. 

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