Newsletter no 4 – Editorial

Food price volatility and food markets

Illustration, Anna Loveday-Brow

A new food price crisis: the time has come to put people at the centre of the food system!
Chronic, persistent and increasing hunger levels. Rising demand on top of a collapsing resource base. Unsustainable consumption patterns and waste. Feedstocks diverted from food to fuel. Extreme vulnerability. Climate chaos. Political unrest and food riots. Markets rigged against the many in favour of the few. Spiralling food prices… The dominant food system is not delivering. This is because it is a food system moulded by a market where purchasing power is more important than rights, where food, land, and water and other resources have been restricted to a mere commodity. It is a system where the power to decide who produces what, how, for whom or by whom is concentrated in a handful of companies, and where public policies to regulate agricultural or financial markets have been largely dismantled. This system today is colliding with inherent limits. It traps a billion producers and consumers in poverty and fails to address the ecological boundaries of a flawed food system. Inequalities are increasing, and peoples are excluded from their fundamental rights. In the midst of a second severe food price crisis in three years, some governments have lost confidence in the capacity of international markets to deliver their needed food. The international community is forced to address the problem. But it still fails to recognise the main causes of the persistent crisis and to develop coordinated and coherent responses that go beyond the defence of short term interests. The time has come to put people at the centre of the food system. In that system the supply of food is accomplished by agro-ecological, resilient, small-holder farming, producing sufficient and accessible food for all. Policies need to be grounded in the right to food and food sovereignty to deliver on food, nutritional and ecological security. Small food producers and civil society organisations call for the needed radical changes by mobilising forces and contributing to the debate for transformed policies at national and international levels.

Thierry Kesteloot, Oxfam-Solidarity