April 22nd, 2014


famine memorial

This article was written by Liz Bennett and originally published at Underground Medic

Over the last decade world grain reserves have fallen by at least a third and that decline looks set to continue. For the last half of the 20th century overproduction was the order of the day. Huge grain surpluses, butter mountains and milk lakes dominated the news.

During this period the United States had a farm programme where land lay idle to prevent even more surpluses, this provided a cushion against shortages, the land could be planted up if the surpluses fell to levels considered to be too low. In the UK land was left fallow and green manured to enrich it for the following season. The crops were rotated and the harvests were generally very good. In addition there was the carryover: The amount of grain left in the massive storage silos at the time the next crop is harvested. Other western nations had similar systems.

1965 is a good year to show how the system cushioned against disaster. In 1965 the Monsoon in India failed. The United states shipped a full fifth of its grain harvest to India which averted a potential famine. due to the amount of surplus in store the incident had a minimal effect on grain prices on the world markets.

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