Karachi: People across the world are changing what they eat because of the rising cost of food, according to a new global survey released today as part of Oxfam’s international GROW campaign, and Pakistan’s newly-formed “Dharti” campaign to ensure everyone around the world always has enough to eat.
The public opinion poll was conducted in 17 countries including, Pakistan, India, Australia, Brazil, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, Kenya, Mexico, Netherlands, Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Tanzania, UK and the USA. Globally, 54 per cent of overall respondents surveyed said they are not eating the same food as they did two years ago – the period before the current food price crisis began. In Pakistan that figure stood at 57 per cent. In Pakistan, 44 per cent of those who said their diet had changed blamed the rising price of food; while 32 per cent cited health reasons.
In Pakistan, only 45 per cent of people surveyed said they always had enough food to eat on a daily basis. Cost was by far the biggest food worry with over half (51 per cent) of respondents in Pakistan citing it as one of their top concerns. Twenty-eight per cent of people surveyed in Pakistan said they were concerned about the availability of food, whilst 19 per cent of people said that the healthiness or nutritional value of the food they ate was also a key concern.
This response reflects the current price hike of basic food items in Pakistan, which is running into double digit figures. In June, the government’s Federal Bureau of Statistics reported that food and beverage prices in May had increased by 15.88 per cent compared to the same period last year; while the price of perishable food items increased by 17.85 per cent.
When people were asked what they thought were the most important factors affecting the supply of food, 28 per cent of respondents in Pakistan highlighted weather patterns and catastrophic events; 26 per cent agreed that government policies in Pakistan and elsewhere were factors; and 23 per cent cited the rising price of oil and other transport costs as key factors.
Neva Khan, Country Director of Oxfam in Pakistan said: “Our diets are changing fast and for too many people it is a change for the worst. Huge numbers of people, especially the poorest, are cutting back on the quantity or quality of the food they eat because of rising food prices. World leaders – especially leaders of the powerful G20 countries – must act now to fix our broken food system. In Pakistan, the Government needs to undertake substantial agriculture reform and provide stronger land rights for landless poor farmers, provide the fertilizers, seed, and storage facilities needed so poor farmers can grow food, and bring rising food prices under control whilst ensuring poor farmers get a decent price for their produce.”
The survey of over 16,000 people was conducted by international research consultancy GlobeScan. Oliver Martin, Research Director of GlobeScan said: “The consequences of the world-wide rise in food prices are very apparent in these survey results. The cost of food is by some distance the dominant concern that people have about what they and their family eat.”
Additional interviews conducted by Oxfam provide further evidence that many people in developing countries are either eating less food, eating cheaper items or enjoying less diversity in their diets as a result of rising food prices. Women tend to be disproportionately affected by rising food prices because they are responsible for feeding their families.