933 views 1 commentupdate:Feb 5, 2007

Shortage of grains in our future?

Guest Bloggers
Lester R. Brown of the Earth Policy Institute has recently reviewed data on coarse grain production. World carryover stocks have declined to a level corresponding to sixty days consumption, the lowest level since 1970.  By Simon Shane

Lester R. Brown of the Earth Policy Institute has recently reviewed data on coarse grain production. World carryover stocks have declined to a level corresponding to sixty days consumption, the lowest level since 1970.
During the past five years, carryover stocks have halved, reflecting greater uptake for intensive animal agriculture and more recently, diversion of maize to fuel ethanol.
2006 World harvest falls short
The 2006 World harvest amounted to 1,967 million tons against a consumption of 2,040 million tons. It is estimated that in 2007 an additional 136 million tons of coarse grains will be required to restore carryover stocks (73 million tons), allow for growth in consumption (24 million tons) and provide for ethanol production (39 million tons). The additional requirement represents almost 7% of the 2005/2006 harvest.
US maize prices increase due to rising ethanol demand
Diversion of maize to ethanol in the USA is accelerating in response to national initiatives to reduce dependence on foreign oil. Supported by government subsidies of € 0.10/liter, and supported by a crude oil price of € 47/barrel, ethanol production is expanding, placing an ever increasing demand on domestic supply.
It is estimated that for the 2007/2008 harvest the US ethanol industry will require 120 million metric tons of maize from existing and expanding plants. Up to 60 new units are projected to come on stream before 2008. Increased demand has already resulted in an increase in the domestic price of maize in the USA which attained € 117/m.ton at the beginning of December.
Negative impact on developing countries
Consumers in developing countries including Egypt and Mexico who rely on importation of maize will be severely impacted by the world shortage of grain and reduced exports from the USA. The situation may be exacerbated by drought in sub-Saharan Africa associated with the developing El Niño phenomenon. The rise in price of maize will be reflected in parallel increases in other coarse grains including sorghum and feed wheat.
Options open to poultry producers
• Poultry producers can apply a number of strategies in an attempt to reduce production cost. Enzymes specific for the grains incorporated into diets can be added to enhance digestibility of both energy and critical amino acids.
• Enzymes will also allow the use of non traditional ingredients which may be available on the domestic market, sparing more expensive imports.
•  Nutritionists can reevaluate nutritional specifications which frequently incorporate “safety margins.”
• Performance may be sacrificed under extreme conditions, in order to enhance the overall profitability of integrations and to optimize return over feed costs.
Long term solutions
Longer term solutions will involve:
• Rational allocation of grain resources to human and animal food, increasing efficiency of cultivation by the use of genetically-engineered strains, which are both drought and pest-resistant.
•The use of fuel for industrial and transportation applications must be reduced. This will require application of technology to vehicle design, and other conservation measures, allowing the cost of vehicle fuels to rise in accordance with market demand
• Government-imposed incentives and punitive “waste-taxes” will accelerate the development of public transport and lead to the adoption of more fuel-efficient vehicles.
Change needed
The current situation, if not corrected, will lead to a further widening of the disparity in living standards, health and nutrition between industrialized and developing nations and exacerbate hunger amongst the underprivileged populations in Africa and Asia.


By: Simon Shane

One comment

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    REMEN KWEKA

    ON grain deficiecy,let American farmers come to Africa(Tanzania) and do farming here.There's big potential for huge production of corn i this tropical centred state.Ideal rains and vast landmass.

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