Immediate causes of the food crisis

The following is a simple listing of the major immediate causes of the food crisis. Each will be discussed further in the text.

  • Petrol price increases
  • Recent growth of agri-fuel cultivation (displacing, in some cases, food crops for home consumption) – see, for instance, Box on palm oil production in Honduras
  • Increasing climatic shocks (such as droughts and floods)
  • Decline in national food reserves – under privatisation
  • Increasing volatility in commodity markets
  • Falling value of the dollar (in 2007 and 2008), in which all major commodities are traded
  • Attempts to boost exports rather than meet local and national demand – under neoliberalism
  • Increased migration of small-scale and subsistence farmers away from the land
  • Hoarding by transnational companies to create favourable conditions for sale – manipulation of markets to create windfall profits

Source: Adapted from Megan Rowling (2008) ‘Food price rises threaten poverty for millions more’, in Central America Report, summer 2008.

Crude oil price and food price index, 2006 – 2009

This figure is referred to in the book as Figure 2.2 (Page 16)


Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (accessed 18th July 2009).
Food Price Index: Consists of 55 commodity quotations considered by FAO commodity specialists as representing the international prices for 5 food groups (meat, dairy, creals, oils and fats, sugar).
The New York Merchantile Exchange (2009).
Crude Oil Price: Price history for a barrel of light, sweet crude oil for future delivery as traded on the New York Mechantile Exhange (NYMEX).