Home > Economy > Factory Farming and Rise in Foodgrain Prices

Factory Farming and Rise in Foodgrain Prices

Foodgrain prices have zoomed up in almost all parts of the world. Ironically, last year agriculture production was normal and there was no famine. 

Fingers are being pointed to Economic slowdown or Ethanol or Oil Prices. Arun Firodia in his article in Economic Times rightly pointed at increased meat consumption for the present crisis. The author feels that if meet consumption reduces, there would be enough food for everyone.


However, meat consumption is increasing at an alarming rate and therefore the solution has to be based on the assumption that there would be great demand for meat especially in the developing countries. 


In developed countries Factory Farming is practiced for cattle breeding. Cattle are maintained in huge factories and are fed on foodgrains instead of grass. Inefficiency is built in the food chain as cattle eats huge amount of food to produce meat.


In developing countries the cattle breeding is largely decentralized. Great amount of meat is supplied by farmers and small breeders. Availability of huge farm waste and grazing grounds help reduce foodgrain intake by the cattle.


The demand for meat is increasing rapidly and big corporations are entering the market to fill this demand. Developing countries can not afford Factory Farming which consumes huge amount of foodgrain thereby reducing per capita foodgrain availability for the citizens.


Strengthening animal husbandry at village level has its merits:

  • Good use of farm waste as feeder for cattle
  • Generating employment for rural youth and curbing migration
  • Lesser risk of animal diseases and minimizing its impact


The demand for meat is going to rise. It’s up to the developing countries to decide how much foodgrain they want to waste or save on raising the cattle.



Categories: Economy Tags: , , ,
  1. Shilpa
    June 24, 2008 at 5:40 am

    This is similar to the debate years ago on growing regular grain crops versus faster moving high value cash crops. The resulting shift in India’s agricultural pattern might have contributed to India needing to import foodgrains 70s onwards.
    I believe in market forces and think that if left alone, in the long term market needs will drive an easing up of the food crunch, by driving grain prices so high that it is again lucrative to grow more grain for people consumption. But in the long term, as the wise economist said, everyone is dead.

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