August 25, 2011

Food prices affecting Muslims during Ramadan


by Jan Harris

Oxfam has chosen the month of Ramadan, a time when Muslims are required to fast from dawn until sunset, to warn that rising food prices have made fasting even more difficult than usual this year.

Penny Lawrence, International Director for Oxfam, said: “For many people around the world Ramadan is a time of spiritual reflection and remembering those that are less fortunate and hungry.

“We must ensure that people always have enough to eat, especially at the end of a fast when people need to replenish themselves.”

Muslim communities across the world have been finding it more difficult to afford the food they need to sustain themselves during Ramadan.

Traditionally, Muslims start the day with Suhur, a rich meal, often high in protein, which is eaten just before daybreak so that they feel less hungry during the day.

The fast is broken with a meal known as Iftar, which is eaten at sunset when people need a good meal to replenish themselves after a day without food.

Oxfam has spoken to Muslim communities around the world and found that price rises are making it difficult for them to afford an adequate diet, particularly during Ramadan.

The charity reports that in Pakistan the price of staple food items increased by 17 percent ahead of Ramadan, while in Azerbaijan the price of mutton has increased by 20 per cent since Ramadan last year.

Bangladesh has also seen the price of staple foods rise since the beginning of Ramadan.

Climate change and the depletion of land and energy resources are all making the problem of hunger worse, warns Oxfam and the charity has joined with MADE in Europe to call on governments to take action now.

They want governments to improve the way markets are regulated, tackle climate change and invest in sustainable agriculture to stem the growing tide of hunger.

Saif Ahmad, CEO of MADE in Europe, said: “Ramadan is a time when we reflect on the blessings that each of us have and experience in some small way the hunger that people around the world endure on a daily basis.

“In the UK we have been fasting for 18-hour days but know that at the end of it, there is going to be enough food and water for us to quench our hunger and thirst.

“People in other countries have been breaking their fasts with very little simply because there is no food available to eat.

“As Ramadan draws to a close, I am urging people to reflect about where our food comes from, and how we can together alleviate the food crisis to ensure that everyone has enough to eat,“ he said.

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