Friday, March 11, 2011

Could the Japanese Tsunami Deepen the Global Food Crisis?

While I was up with Baby Dear in the wee hours of this morning, I happened to turn the TV to CNN. I listened to accounts of the horrifying earthquake damage in Japan. I watched the tsunami waters consume homes, vehicles, and countless lives. The magnitude of the disaster is stunning.

Now, I'm obviously not an economist, agronomist, or any other -ist that means anything. I'm just a paranoid mom who knows that the world is already on the brink of a massive food crisis. With that caveat in mind, here are my thoughts:
  1. If you watched any of the tsunami footage, you saw the waters engulf what appeared to be fields and greenhouses. A quick check on Google confirmed that Sendai, ground zero for the disaster, is in the midst of the Japanese agricultural heartland.
  2. A rice paddy
  3. The same Google search showed that one of the major crops of this area of Japan is rice.
  4. Salt water, debris, any chemicals picked up by the water, etc. are bad for crops! Not to mention the huge societal disruption Japan is facing. This could disrupt agriculture in the area for some time to come.
  5. Japan consumes a massive amount of rice.
  6. Up until now, the Japanese have imported very little rice and mainly consume what they grow themselves.
  7. With a large portion of their rice crop in jeopardy, Japan will be forced to import rice.
  8. This could lead to a spike in the price for rice, or perhaps even a rice shortage.
  9. Even worse: If the unthinkable happens and those damaged nuclear plants have a Chernobyl-type accident, crop land in Japan could be contaminated for years to come. This would continue the food shortage/price increase scenario in addition to all the other tragic effects of such a disaster.
Again, these are just my own thoughts. Who knows if they have any real validity. I do know one thing. I'm buying a bunch of rice the next time I make a trip into town. I was going to do that anyway, but this gives me added motivation.

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