Hage, watch out for food crisis!
It is summer, yet there are no promises of rain. Globally, there is a continuation of the extreme heat wave in east Asia that began in July and unusually warm temperatures in most land areas of the southern hemisphere including Antarctica.
A heat wave broke all-time national records in Austria, Slovenia and Japan. Deadly floods swamped Manila in the Philippines, Bamako, Mali, southern China and eastern Afghanistan as well. As such, last month was the warmest August ever recorded at the South Pole.
However, it was a very warm winter month in South Africa with temperatures reaching an amazing 40.6°C in some areas. Mexico is under flood, so is Colorado.
None of these events can be attributed to global warming. But to see how climate change will play out in the rest of the 21st century, you needn’t look to the Met Office. Look, instead, at what happened during the deaths and burning tyres in Mozambique’s food riots in 2010 if you really want to understand what happens when extreme natural phenomena interact with an economic system that is flawed.
The immediate causes of the protests in Mozambique’s capital, Maputo, and Chimoio about 800km north (just like Wamboland), were a 30% price increase for bread, compounding a double-digit increase for water and energy. When nearly three-quarters of the household budget was spent on food, that’s a hike few Mozambicans could afford. Dozens died in those riots.
Deeper reasons for Mozambique’s price hikes were found a continent away. That year, wheat prices soared on global markets over the summer in large parts because Russia, the world’s third largest exporter, had suffered catastrophic fires in its main production areas.
Those blazes, in turn, found their origin both in poor fire fighting infrastructure and Russia’s worst heat wave in over a century. Vladimir Putin would extend an export ban in response to a new wave of wildfires in its grain belt, sending further signals to the markets that Russian wheat wouldn’t be available outside the country.
With Mozambique importing over 60% of the wheat its people needed, the country was held hostage by international markets.
Now, doesn’t this sound familiar? In 2008, the prices of oil, wheat, corn and rice peaked on international markets – corn prices almost tripled between 2005 and 2008.
In the process, dozens of food-importing countries experienced food riots.
Behind the 2008 protests were, first, natural disasters that looked like an excerpt from the meteorological section of the Book of Revelation – drought in Australia, crop disease in central Asia, floods in south-east Asia.
Is this 2008 all over again? The weather has gone wild, yet everything else is still fine.
God gave us rains for the past decades, some even took lives. Today, we lose rains for a year and we cry foul. Is that the biblical hypocrisy? No, it is not. We cry because we are like Mozambique in 2008 and 2010.
What happened to Mozambique can happen to Namibia - if you look at the weather patterns, the economic system and current state of affairs.
Since we rely on South Africa for everything, what are we going to do now that it has pulled out on insuring our farmers? It has every right to, anyway.
With insufficient maize production now a fact, we will rely on South Africa for maize and who knows what will happen to that country in 2015?
Current events will change the Government’s game-plan on agriculture and the current Prime Minister, who may be in charge come 2015, now has more to do to avoid a catastrophe.
To be forewarned is to be forearmed. Save the maize crop farmers before it’s too late.