The recent subsidized bread shortage problem in Egypt is not going to be the last one. With a limited agriculture land, scarce water supply, coupled with of 1.8 million addition new mouths to feed every year, limited supply of hard currency to import food, and you get the magic ingredients of a coming famine in Egypt.
One additional reminder to the food crisis we're about to face, took the form of a decree by minister Rasheed banning all exports of Rice from April! Obviously, with worldwide food crisis worsening, we have to make sure that we have some locally grown food in case we can't get enough Wheat.
Many factors helped create the current food shortage; Oil prices, bio-fuels, world wide population increase, climate change producing droughts, etc… however, on the local front, the crisis was caused by the incredible difference between the price of subsidized flour and that same price in the free market, which gave chance to profiteering, and smuggling activities to make small fortunes in short time mainly by bakers.
Most of these facts are known for anyone who works with numbers and demographics in Egypt. Nothing is new except the oil price hikes factor. The main problem in Egypt is the uncontrolled population increase that is the most serious national problem we face now.
However, the interesting aspect in all this is watching angry people blaming the government for all this mess, and posting funny conspiracy theories! While it is true that the government did show some incompetence in handling the problem, it is by no means the main reason for bread queues and local fights over the right to the distribution window first.
Here are some comments to the crisis from different internet sites:
http://www.masrawy.com & http://www.alarabiya.net
- Many comments think that there is a conspiracy from America to restrict wheat plantation in Egypt so that American farmers can export to Egypt
- Many comments report that there are mysterious people in cars bearing diplomatic license plates buying entire produce of large wheat fields, and then destroying the wheat on site!!! (conspiracy theory again)
- Many comments are asking why is Egypt importing wheat while it used to export wheat during the fifties of the last century (as if the posters don't know about population growth, in fact Egypt more than doubled it's production since then)
- The funniest comment was repeated on both sites, and say that this crisis is caused by the fact that bakeries are owned by government officials and Mubarak family!!!
- Another weirdo writes that scientists have offered the government a plan to grow wheat in the desert using sea water and end the need to import wheat but the government refused (!!!)
- Various comments asking why isn't Egypt using Nile's water to irrigate it's vast desert to plant wheat (!!!)
- Many comments are asking the people to rise against the government in a red revolution (based on the theory that corruption is the problem)
- Other comments are attributing this and other problems in Egypt to sins, and this crisis is God's retribution
- Some comments are asking for Moslem Brotherhood to take control.
In general, as I said before, this fast review of the comments show how ignorant and superficial most of the commentators are, and that's a reflection of the current level of education, and percentage of uninformed people in the country.