As food prices rise, Opium fields in Afghanistan change to Wheat

Tomas Martin @ 11-04-2008

Rice in India is hitting record pricesFood prices are at historic highs, thanks to a number of factors including increased biofuel use. Rice prices are causing shortages and inflation problems in India, Bangladesh and the rest of Asia, with prices of many grains double what they were this time last year.

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown today called for action about the price rises at the next G8 meeting, with the incentives for making biofuel having unforeseen consequences leading to the shortages.

“For the first time in decades, the number of people facing hunger is growing. Food prices have risen sharply leading to food riots in several countries,” Brown wrote.

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, the Telegraph reports that farmers who had been producing opium for the illicit trade of heroin have begun to switch from the poppy to wheat because the grain fetches higher prices than the drug. Unforeseen consequences, indeed!

[via Russ Winter and Paul Krugman, image of rice at Colaba Market, Mumbai by Dey]

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One Response to “As food prices rise, Opium fields in Afghanistan change to Wheat”

  1. Al Fin says:

    Westerners pay less than 10% of their income for food, whereas many third worlders pay 80% or more.

    Quite a shock to see poppy farmers forsaking opium for wheat because the wheat gives better prices.

    Farmers have always had to choose between food crops and “cash crops”, such as tobacco, cotton, marijuana etc. Now that food crops have become cash crops the choice moves up the chain a link.