What Causes Food Scarcity?

Esther Ejim

Food scarcity refers to a situation where there is a disparity between the aggregate food needs of the world population in comparison to the actual output or production of food. Despite the advent of globalization, which has made movement and transportation of people, goods and materials easier, there is still a mismatch between the world food needs and the supply of food items to fill those needs. Some of the issues fueling food scarcity or facilitating the same include factors like the placement of a huge burden on the land and other resources due to an explosion on world population, wars and the resultant lack of stability, inefficient or underdeveloped infrastructure, and lack of transportation. The lack of adequate technology to efficiently utilize the land resources is also a contributing factor.

During times of war and political strife, food and other resources may be available but not accessible to people leading to scarcity.
During times of war and political strife, food and other resources may be available but not accessible to people leading to scarcity.

One of the factors that contributes to world food scarcity is the increase in the world population, which serves as a source of huge burden to the limited resources on the planet. Since the resources on earth are constant in comparison to the more variable nature of population growth, a rapid growth in the direction of human population will tilt the scale of the harmonious relation between nature and man unfavorably. This is due to the fact that the food resources will have a longer way to go in terms of satisfying human demands, leading to food shortages.

Concentrated overpopulation can cause scarce food sources in areas.
Concentrated overpopulation can cause scarce food sources in areas.

Wars and instability in communities and governments have a negative effect on the availability of food. This is partly due to the fact that the resultant lack of stability and security often interrupts normal activities, including agricultural endeavors, leading to food scarcity. It also leads to the wanton destruction of property, including crops and farmlands. Even when other communities and countries that are not a part of the conflict are willing to send food to the battle-stricken communities, they may not be able to send food to the communities that need them due to the fighting by different warring factions.

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Lack of infrastructure is also a cause of food scarcity, because a poor framework of infrastructure like roads and transportation affect the availability of food, especially perishable food. This is especially pertinent with the realization that most farms and agricultural resources are located in the hinterlands or rural areas, away from the big cities. Where the roads are really bad, or the transportation network is very poor, such food items will not get to the places they are needed on time, leading to a lot of food spoilages and waste.

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Discussion Comments


I agree with Hazali, but I disagree with the first point made in this article. There is more than enough food to go around for everyone. Over 80 percent of the world's food goes to only 20 percent of the world's population, and the remaining 20 percent of the world's food is left for the 80 percent of the world's population, so population growth isn't a problem. It's the wasting of food, and where the food that isn't used that is the real problem.


@Hazali - Though I'm not quite sure about the homeless, one of the main reasons why leftover food isn't sent to third world countries is because it's not "essential" food. For those who are starving in other countries, they're not eating because they want food that tastes good, they're eating for survival instincts and a desire to gain nutrients. Giving them food that's rich or greasy would kill them or destroy their stomachs.


This is just my opinion, but I think another reason for food scarcity is based on how as humans, we waste so much food, when it could be used to feed people who actually need it. For example, what if you went food shopping, and bought several loaves of bread. However, when you get home, you realized that there are already two extra loaves in the back of the fridge, so you toss the other ones away. Though it may not seem like a big deal initially, if everyone is doing it, it can create a lot of problems. This leads me to wonder why so much wasted food isn't sent to homeless people or third world countries.

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