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"Averting" Food Crisis

As we have noticed in the last few days, the issue of food crisis has started to be discussed more in the global press, and it has started to be covered in many platforms from both political, economic and climatic perspectives. In this article, we will also focus on the history and past consequences of food crises. Is the food crisis still a looming threat or has it already begun? How did the examples in human history begin and how were they managed?

Crisis Ahead

How Do Food Crises / Famines Start?

Famine has emerged throughout human history for reasons such as wars, colonization, epidemics, natural disasters, disproportionate population growth, and mass poverty.

The greatest famine of the 20th century was experienced by rapid and unplanned industrialization in China, and with the abandonment of agricultural lands in China, which has been an agricultural society throughout history, an estimated 18 - 42 million people lost their lives due to famine. Similarly, the Soviets suffered great famines and losses as a result of the government's collectivization policies.

One of the historical examples of climate change took place earlier, in the Egyptian civilization. It is stated that the fertile Egyptian lands, which continued until the end of the Sahara Desert, retreated to the Nile River after the drought.

There has been famine and migration in every land where people have settled down in the world.

Today, you will realize with regret that all of these are happening at the global level, all at the same time. According to the United Nations, Africa has been the continent most affected by food insecurity since 2010.

Sudden changes in agricultural and industrial policies, lack of support and incentives, dependence on imports affect all countries, and as countries react, other side effects arise. The lower the country's access to energy and commodities, the greater the domino effect, due to a more integrated and more complex global supply chain. Agriculture industry that has limited access to natural gas - which brings heat and energy to the farm - quickly gets hit; and equivalents cost higher due to shifting demand. Social uncertainties cause the public to experience a massive stocking spree (e.g. increasing speculative purchases after COVID-19, difficulty in access to products). The energy crisis is reflected instantly in logistics operations and costs, and some of us lament how costly our grocery shopping is now that we're lucky at the end of the day, but we still somehow gain access to these products.

So how long will this take?

Due to global warming and the sudden and unexpected climate changes it brings, farmers cannot produce crops, and agricultural areas are affected by floods and storms in the long run. Another effect of this is that farmers are forced to leave agriculture and migrate to cities due to insufficient resources and livelihood problems.

We don't want to be pessimistic, but nature cannot be bought with money.

How to "Avert" Famine

With constant wildfires and floods, global political uncertainties, and the COVID epidemic on top of that, most of the steps taken to prevent the food crisis are emerging as a reaction rather than an action. While Ukraine alone accounts for 49% of the world's grain exports, currently millions of tons of grain are waiting in their warehouses. On the other hand, India has recently decided to stop its grain exports and we will see the effects of this in the coming weeks.

How to Avert Famine In the Long Run

An interesting example from history is how Britain coped with famine during World War II. The practice of "rationing" was introduced by the "Ministry of Food" in order to find a temporary solution to the mass hunger experienced during the war in England, and a similar situation occurred in the United States. While this was a temporary solution, the more permanent one was that the British started cultivating food in their own homes and gardens. This movement, which almost became a struggle for liberation, was supported by the English people at that time with slogans such as "Dig For Victory". The British horticultural historian Twigs Way's publication of "Allotment and Garden Guide - A Monthly Guide to Better Gardening" also provides information on how to grow food by their own means, an example of how this struggle is experienced in daily life. In the light of this information, we realize once again the importance given to agriculture and gardening in British culture.

The critical importance of the agricultural sector and self-sufficiency in a time of crisis reveals once again the necessity of dedicating our resources to these areas.

Taking into account that the current natural and geographical conditions will not change overnight, the rapid transportation of agriculture indoors with system and automation will be the most important and long-term solution for mass food security. Singapore is one of the best examples of this practice: Singapore, which is a small country with a tropical climate, quickly adapted to urban agriculture technologies and all unused and idle buildings, multi-story car parks and warehouses in that tiny country are being converted into agricultural land.

Organic Vegetable Farm in Singapore
Organic Vegetable Farm in Singapore

We, too, believe that we will have found a correct and long-term solution to avert food crisis if we can transform our unused large areas into agricultural areas, especially in an organized and state-supported manner.

We can make it before it's too late.



World Trade Organization


United Nations

University of Oxford, Faculty of History

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