Food Shortage in Black America
When you hear of food shortage, you probably think of Africa, probably sub-Saharan Africa, or even Somalia to be precise. But America would never ever ring in an ordinary man’s mind, it seems like a joke. However, food shortage is already in America, probably in the States with many Black Americans (Hamel 10). An economic collapse is already starting to take shape in most of these states. It has come up to a point where the situation is so dire that people are doing the unimaginable, hunting cats and dogs for food. Apparently, many are blaming this shortage on socialism. There are claims that the central government has been uplifted and held in very high esteem that it has forgotten all the other institutions in the society (Odekon and Mehmet 14).
Demand for food has escalated, to the peak in fact but there is so little food in the market to feed the high appetite in Venezuela. What tends to happen in any normal unbalanced economy anywhere in the world is actually happening in Venezuela just like it would in any country. Scramble for the little food that is there has begun. In fact, people are no longer buying in most of the grocery stores and supermarkets, they are looting. Crime has started rising, lawlessness and disorders have become the order of the day. Many observers are predicting that Venezuela is just a tip of the ice bag, the same scenario is going to spread from Venezuela to probably all black American dominated states and then all the other states (It Has Begun – Food Shortages Already In America And What Is Coming Next Is Going To Be Ugly – The Crash Felt Round The World 17).
The confusing and lingering questions in the minds of many people is how a country like Venezuela is lacking food while she is one of the wealthiest countries in South America. Research from the CIA has it that Venezuela is actually the most endowed country with oil reserves in the world than even Saudi Arabia included (Odekon and Mehmet 11). Such a fact now demands answers on how such a country found itself in such a crisis. Her economy is rolling down the hill with high velocity, the velocity that has been proven by the government’s inability to feed its people. Anyone would agree that a State with such a high food shortage is liable to become disorderly and unruly (Hamel 16).
In desperate kicks to restore law and order in a panicking nation, the president has declared a sixty-day state of emergency. However, this will only aggravate the dire situation from bad to worse. Through such alarming shortages, the economy of the country has been recorded to contract by about 5.7% last year and it seems that the economy will still trickle down by 8% this year if the disaster is not curbed. It has come to a situation that people are stealing food at a gunpoint, a thing that has never been seen in the history of the country. A plate of food is worth more than the money in the bank (Odekon and Mehmet 7).
The laws of the market have started being manifested, the laws of demand and supply in relation to pricing. Since the demand has raised so much, the price of food has escalated so high that people are withdrawing money from the bank in order to buy food before the escalating prices do so again. Food prices have already doubled. Not only are there shortages of food but the shortages in medical drug supplies and all other basic needs have shot up. Crime has also risen and power blackouts have become the frequent giving room for criminal gangs to operate. The government is actually losing it; it has to do something about the food situation (Willaarts et al 5).
Many factories in the country have now been closed on the fears of insecurity while others claim that their supply for raw materials has already been shut down. The government is being blamed for the mismanagement of the situation, very little is being seen to be done in order to remedy the situation (Odekon and Mehmet 17). It is only more and more security personnel that are being deployed in the cities to keep people in their houses at night and reduce the rate of lootings during the day and night. Apparently, since buying of food has become so critical and difficult, people have resulted to the black market (Hamel 7).
Illegal trade has started booming in the country taking advantage of the new business opportunity and the desperate time that the citizens are facing. They sell such items as shampoo, soap, milk, margarine, rice, flour and deodorants among others. These illegal traders are criminal gangs and they are called the bacha queros. On the other hand, theft has become as petty as stealing chickens and hijacking food trucks and looting them. The street militarized country has very little it can do to remedy and control the situation as the country gets in a more and more dire state, whether the state of emergency is in place or not (Odekon and Mehmet 15).
When asked to explain on what may have resulted in the economic crisis that the country has found itself in, the Venezuelan President, Maduro has blamed the drops in the international oil prices. A myriad of accusations after counter accusations between the government and the opposition has escalated day by day. It is not clear as to whether the opposition is trying to take advantage of the situation and politicize t to their advantage, or they are just concerned about the people’s welfare. The opposition blames the government on the present crisis citing that this was brought by the poor economic policies that Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, had left behind. It is being termed as the cycle of poverty brought about by incompetent leadership (Willaarts et al 16).
Amidst the food crisis, the situation is starting to turn political as many people start calling for the impeachment of the sitting president for the inability to handle the food crisis. Rumors have it that a signed petition calling for a referendum by over six hundred thousand people. Apparently, this number is even triple of the one required instilling a recall but the president has vowed that he is going to balance the economy again as well as ensuring that he completes his full term in office by 2019. The government does have a tough bone to crack sooner before the country gets out of hand (Odekon and Mehmet 14).
There has been a serious concern by the human rights watch and other non-governmental organizations on the usefulness of the State of emergency and the need to deploy paramilitary officers all over the streets of Venezuela. Many claims that the state of emergency is not improving anything but rather giving a better trading chance for the black market operators in the country (Hamel 16). The black market has proven too expensive for the citizens. In addition, there are serious concerns with the situation as there are fears that people may start demonstrating soon in the streets demanding the resignation of the presidents. The current crisis can only be attributed to poor management and government policies that have been market by serious corruption system in the government. Many people view the reason given by the president as of decline in world oil prices, as a lame excuse for the mistakes he and his predecessor have made so far (Willaarts et al 10).
The problem cannot solely be blamed on the decline in oil prices or even the plunging China’s economy that is what the media wants us to believe. There is a much larger picture than the myopic concept that the people of America and Venezuela, in particular, are being given. There are claims that China is just being used as a scapegoat while in the real sense many governments have failed to incorporate the required economic policies that have been used to secure and control in such crisis (Odekon and Mehmet 9). The bitter truth is that if nothing is done soon, Venezuela and other nearby countries in the American domain are going to experience a wave of mass protests because of the crisis that will lead to the even impeachment of presidents and formation of new able governments (Willaarts et al 15).
However, there are more civilized approaches to ending this crisis. A serious strain has been experienced by the American people as consumers lament of the continuous escalate of grocery prices year after year. This has been referred to as the ‘silent tsunami’ sweeping across the continents and America has not been spared by the ordeal. Finding solutions to the crisis will not be easy, not only for Black America but also for other parts of the world facing even stiffer crisis based on the same line. Each food crisis is caused by a different aspect but all in all, they have to be addressed so as to save lives and maintain stability (Hamel 10).
In the same line of argument, there is still some sense in the Venezuelan President‘s argument on oil prices in relation to food shortage. Food production is entirely dependent on oil prices and when they go up, the cost of production shoots. In this case, the oil prices in Venezuela were recorded to be very high such that the factories and food industries have been operating at a loss to a point of closure as production costs shot up. As a result, food shortage has become very high in the country leading to a frenzied panic that may trigger serious demonstrations (It Has Begun – Food Shortages Already In America And What Is Coming Next Is Going To Be Ugly – The Crash Felt Round The World 17).
It is only through extraordinary leadership that such a crisis will stop at its present stage and die from spreading to other American countries. The governments in the Black America have to admit that there is a crisis and call for international and foreign aid. Food aid has to be improved where necessary even if it is to a once stable and rich country such as Venezuela. The same way most African countries admittedly declare hunger and famine a natural disaster, the shortage of food in Venezuela and the Latin America has become a great concern (Odekon and Mehmet 13).
The government also ought to invest heavily on Agriculture so that when such a crisis looms, it can have an alternative to curbing the situation as it would have stored the surplus production to be used during the crisis. Production of higher yields will see to it that the country has enough to eat in future. There will also be the need for the Venezuelan government and other countries where the food crisis is spreading too, to break the trading barriers that make it difficult for food from other countries to be sold in the country to happen more efficiently (Hamel 19).
On the other hand, as much as oil prices and poor economic policies get blamed on the issue of food shortage in America. The aspect of poverty also plays a crucial role. In the case of Venezuela, even though poverty rate has declined a little, from one person to every four being poor, to one person in every three being poor, there are still serious concerns. The customer buying power matters a lot when the prices of goods and foodstuffs increase in the market. There are a number of issues that have contributed to poverty in America and consequent food shortage in the countries (Hamel 16).
The first one is traded. The higher the rate of trade in these countries, the higher the wages that people get. In this case, Venezuela has relatively low wages. It also has a high labor force but low capital for her industrial running. As a result, people have very little to spend and in case of food shortage occurs, prices will escalate and very few people will afford to buy the foods. On the other hand, food production may have gone down in these countries due to immigration. When a large labor force needed in the economy goes to work in another economy and neglects its production sector, food shortage is liable to occur. in the same way, the country in which the influx population is immigrating to may not also be able to support the high immigration population (Hamel 17).
In a bid to address the food shortage in America, the following hunger eradication programs should be employed by the respective governments so as to at least stabilize the country before the oil prices stabilize. SNAP should be employed to the people (Hamel 12). It is an anti-hunger program especially for the low-income earners who fail to afford nutritionally adequate food. Secondly, the special supplemental nutrition for women and children should be introduced, also known as WIC. The governments in these food shortage areas have to at least do something for their people to see that they are trying rather than just hope for market prices to stabilize (Willaarts et al 16).
It is true that food shortage is a wave that was once known as Asian and African Nations but it has now caught up with America. The causes of these shortages cannot be attributed to one factor but rather a myriad of them. The black America, particularly Venezuela, is facing a serious food shortage that has seen the country result into chaos and probable anarchy. As a result, the crisis needs to be declared a national disaster and the government to take necessary measures such as importing food and other essentials so as to stabilize the food prices. It would also be okay to set up better disaster management strategies and viable trade policies that will ensure that such a crisis does not occur again.
Odekon, Mehmet. Encyclopedia of World Poverty. SAGE Publications, 2006.
Hamel, D. “Poverty Shoots Up in Venezuela.” Foreign Policy, 2014, foreignpolicy.com/2014/06/04/poverty-shoots-up-in-venezuela/.
“It Has Begun – Food Shortages Already In America And What Is Coming Next Is Going To Be Ugly – The Crash Felt Round The World.” ANP Home, 2016, allnewspipeline.com/Crash_Heard_Round_The_World.php.
Willaarts, Bárbara A, et al. Water for Food Security and Well-Being in Latin America and the Caribbean: Social and Environmental Implications for a Globalized Economy. Routledge, 2014.