The 5 Main Causes of Food Shortages

The 5 Main Causes of Food Shortages

We need to look, in depth, at the causes of food shortages. This is not just an academic exercise; it’s one that will help you to see food shortages as they develop—before it’s too late.

Before we go any further, watch this video that shows you how to ensure the food crisis (and any emergency disaster scenario) doesn’t leave you hungry:


Unfortunately, you may have many opportunities to watch the common food shortage causes that we’re about to discuss unfold.

Food shortages are currently a reality affecting large parts of the world, including impoverished families in developed countries.

Greece, Spain, China, India and Venezuela are just some of the countries where very large numbers of people are currently going hungry.

Hunger is also coming closer and closer to home. In the United States, nearly 50 million people are living with the uncertainty of not knowing when and where they will get their next meal.

What causes this widespread hunger?

1. Nature

Extreme weather is increasing in many parts of the world.

Drought in particular has been a major player in food shortages during these early years of the 21st century. It is currently the most common reason for food shortage.

Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya and Guatemala are just some of the countries currently suffering from a several-years-long food crisis at the hands of drought. Although the farmers in these countries are used to dealing with low levels of rainfall, often by selling off livestock, several consecutive years of drought have left their resources depleted.

2. Poverty

A more common reason for hunger in all regions of the world is the economy.

Greek charities report that around 90% of the people in lower-class city neighborhoods are currently subsiding on food banks and soup kitchens.

The cause? The collapse of the Greek economy in 2009. Without jobs, it doesn’t matter that there is food to be had; many people can no longer afford it.

When the poor are hungry, they are weak, more likely to fall ill and less likely to be able to take action to get out of poverty and satiate their hunger. Poverty is a self-perpetuating hunger cycle.

3. Poor Infrastructure

In the developing world, one of the main reasons for hunger is that the infrastructure needed to feed the hungry either is not prioritized or can’t be funded. There are not enough roads, silos and warehouses. There isn’t enough irrigation.

This either raises the costs of the food produced beyond what people can pay, or it means that the food does not get to the people regardless of what they are willing to pay.

At its worst, it means that food is produced, but spoils.

This is a major problem for many developing countries, yet their governments continue to spend money on urban developments.

Because the farmers cannot sell their food, they cannot grow more, so a downward spiral begins.

4. Unsustainable Farming Practices

This world is rife with unsound farming practices. Deforestation, overgrazing and over-cropping are just a few of the problems the environment faces.

We poison our water with fertilizers and we kill all of the pollinators with insecticides so that our crops won’t grow in the future.

We leave our fields bare in the winter winds, leading to large soil losses, and we spread human waste on food crops, introducing diseases into our soil.

We plow and we spray so much that nothing lives in the soil. The only way to make it fertile again is to poison our water with more chemical fertilizers.

Never mind how we are patenting modified seed so that farmers in developing countries can’t save seed from year to year but have to plunge into financial ruin and go hungry themselves.

Don’t get me wrong; I love the countryside and have great respect for farmers. There is real good out there!

However, there are also widespread bad practices, even in the developed world. Farmers are often forced into these practices by government subsidies and regulations.

In many parts of the world, the soil is simply dying. There is nothing left for it to give—until, of course, we start taking better care of it.

When the soil erodes, salinates and becomes desert, people go hungry.

5. War

Lastly, war continues to be a major reason for hunger and food shortages in the 21st century.

Unlike during World War II, when food imports were cut off and supplies had to be saved for the troops, war-based food crises today are often more acute.

Many of the current armed conflicts are displacing millions of refugees. These refugees need to be fed, and the regions giving them refuge cannot feed all of those new hungry mouths.

It’s not because those regions aren’t normally well-equipped to feed their people. There are just, very suddenly, too many of them to feed.

There you have it, and that is not even getting into the postulated reasons for coming food crises, such as global climate change. However, it’s a good start to understanding why so many go hungry now and why your family might go without food in the future.

I hope you realize that it’s critical to prepare for famine during a time of plenty. Don’t let an overflowing grocery store lull you into a false sense of security, because one day, you might wake up and discover that it’s all gone.