Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires has become the epicenter of the country’s food emergency, with an estimated 20,000 people dead in a city where the average family earns less than $300 a month.
The capital’s population has grown by half in five years, and many people are now relying on imported food in a country where the food industry is so dependent on imports that some local businesses have shut down.
The crisis began in March, when the government announced that imports from Argentina would be cut by 40 percent, while prices will be frozen for a month and most businesses will shut.
But now, the situation is more acute, with shortages and a shortage of imported food already plaguing the capital and neighbouring states.
“We have a lot of problems here, especially in the last few weeks,” said Carlos Perez, head of a local restaurant that provides basic food to families, many of them farmers.
“Our restaurants are struggling, so we are doing everything we can to stay open.”
While Argentina’s official food import figures were released last week, there is no official data on food shortages.
But food prices have risen by 30% in recent months, the most recent figures show, with a rise in prices of more than 500% on average since December.
According to the International Monetary Fund, inflation in Argentina has reached nearly 30%, and many economists are worried that the country could soon be plunged into another recession.
“The food crisis in Argentina is going to continue to affect people in a way that we have never seen before,” said Juan Carlos Gómez, an economist at the IMF.
“We are facing a new phenomenon in which prices have gone up by such a high level that it is a problem of life and death for people,” he said.
Argentina’s official inflation figures show that prices rose by about 30% since December, when Argentina was hit by a devastating drought.
But the true extent of the food crisis is difficult to determine, with Argentina’s Ministry of Agriculture saying that the real inflation figure is much higher, as many households are simply not buying the food they need.
Some local farmers have taken to selling their crops on the black market to help support themselves, but many are already facing a crisis, with prices of basic staples rising by hundreds of pesos per kilo, and even the cost of imported milk and bread rising by nearly 50%.
A shortage of basic goods is not the only problem, as Argentina’s unemployment rate stands at more than 25%, and people are also facing a severe shortage of health care, education and healthcare professionals.
“People are in need of help to get through this crisis, because it’s an economic crisis,” said Gómes, who believes the situation could soon spiral into a full-blown economic crisis.
“It is like a cancer.”
A recent report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime warned that Argentina’s “social unrest” has already reached a “crisis level”.
“We are seeing an alarming increase in the frequency of food insecurity in Argentina, and a dramatic increase in food insecurity for the elderly and children,” it said.
“While the situation remains extremely difficult, it is time for the authorities to act decisively and urgently.”
Argentine food crisis Argentina’s government has announced that it will freeze imports of basic foods, which is expected to hit the poorest Argentines hardest.
But many are also using imported food as a way of survival.
“Many people are relying on imports from Australia and other countries,” said Perez.
“But it is very difficult for them to pay for it, because we are not able to import anything.
We have to sell our produce on the market.”
But the problem is worsening.
The government has warned that it may be forced to ration imported food, and some farmers are even selling their produce on black markets to make ends meet.
“I do not have money for food anymore,” said Miguel Rueda, a farmer who works for a local food company.
“You have to make a living.
I can’t even afford to feed my family.”
Armenia’s government is planning to set up a food bank to help those in need, but the plans are not yet official.
Many local businesses are also shut down, with some restaurants shut down and others shutting down.
“If you can’t eat, you can sell your produce to the black markets,” said Ruedas uncle, Hector Perez.
For many Argentines, the crisis is already too much.
“At the end of the day, we are all living in poverty, with no money and no health insurance,” said one elderly farmer who did not want to be named.
“Every day, I go to the supermarket, I buy everything, but what am I going to eat?
I’m eating the meat, the milk and the bread.”