03 March, 2008

As Food Prices Rise

World wide - Climate is changing fast. Farmers now grow bio-fuels crops leading to a reduction in the production of food. The World’s population is growing at an alarming rate; on its current growth rate, World population is expected to reach nearly 9 billion by the year 2050. - which would require food production to increase as fast; to keep up. As it is, right now, each day, more and more people have less food to eat or are going hungry. Here in Hadhramout, in the past one year - prices of the main staple foods: wheat and rice, have sharply risen. So have those of cooking oil, milk and meat. And of almost all of the other ingredients used in daily recipes. Other necessities too, have sharply risen in prices: pharmaceutical products and building materials, are now much more expensive than they were a couple of years ago. All these, is now having a direct impact on most people’s lives.

But we Yemenis, being so full of pride as we are and at the same time being as humble as we are - do manage. We some how manage to survive and live dignified lives. Families and friends - within Yemen and those outside - who have more, care for and help those who have less. We share. And we care for each other.

What I find most amazing, is that - while the prices of food and other necessities sharply rise here, the prices of electronic products have been falling. In particular, those of: cell phones, television sets, DVD players, satellite receivers et cetera. A few days ago, I went around Mukalla looking at electronic shops. The fall in prices, since I last went to these shops about two years ago, was incredible. Some prices have fallen by more than a half. This got me in to thinking and wondering; I wanted to know the reason for this sharp fall in prices.

The answer was simple: older model cell pones had their prices greatly reduced; the latest and newer models were very expensive and only very few could afford them. Same with the other electronic items; the older models had their prices very much slashed. For instance: CRT television sets, which have become unfashionable and obsolete in America, Europe and other developed countries; and have no market there - are now being dumped in to Yemen and other poorer, developing countries. Incidentally, I would like to mention this: CRT or tube television sets, overall, are still better and more durable than Plasmas and LCDs; experts agree that tube television sets still have the best picture, especially when it comes to accurate color and the deepest, most cinematic black levels and especially in darker rooms; reviews say, CRT type HDTVs - are better than even the nicest LCD or plasma TVs, and they don’t have the viewing-angle problems associated with some LCD televisions. Unfortunately the days of CRTs and HDTVs are rapidly drawing to a close; most manufacturers have stopped making this type of television altogether and are concentrating instead - on LCD and plasma technologies. And, fortunately for us here - though we are being weighed down by food prices - we at least, for now, continue to enjoy the benefits of some fine electronic products such as the CRTs and HDTVs.

Most people here just like most common, ordinary folks around the World - do not know or understand the main differences in Electronic products; or know, that the traditional ‘telly‘ or tube television as we know it, is rapidly giving way to digital televisions; and is soon to become history. Most people here, like most around the World - know and understand that food prices are rising. Rising fast. And like most ordinary people around the World, especially in poorer countries: we feel it and are being weighed down by it. Daily.