Friday, 12 July 2013

Triticum

The history of the world has a lot to do with triticum or as it is commonly known as, wheat. This crop allowed the development of the first empires in what is now Iraq and the Levant. Egypt's history with wheat goes back to the Pharaohs. They were able to build the pyramids based on its economic value.

The Roman empire depended on the wheat from Egypt to feed the Romans by dishing out the dole through wheat rations. The loss of Egypt's grain for the Byzantine Empire when the new Islamic caliphate conquered Egypt really affected the ability of Byzantium to survive.

One of the reasons the German army invaded Russia in world war two was to get access to the large wheat fields of the Ukraine to help feed its population. When the wheat crop failed in the mid-west USA in the 1930's, it affected the livelihood of millions. Wheat is as important to western culture as rice is to eastern cultures.

Egyptians depend on wheat as a stable food. Science has enabled wheat to grow in tougher conditions and survive disease. The ability to grow such quantities of wheat has allowed a population explosion in Egypt and surround countries. However the grow of the population has well exceeded the ability of Egypt to feed itself with wheat. It needs money to buy in extra wheat to feed the population. It doesn't have that money.

Now this is where world history begins to take shape. When people start to go hungry they have nothing to lose. When people have nothing to lose they are willing to take on the status quo. The French Revolution is a perfect example of what happens when people are left without choice. The price of wheat is rising. The Egyptians are depending on aid from oil rich gulf countries to sustain it but how long before those countries are not able to sustain this aid?

Throughout history the migration of people has precipitated new historic paradigms. If the people of Egypt start to move east or west looking for food, then you will see new conflicts arise that will test people's ability to live by principles they hold dear. History has been full of shocks. The future is no different. There will be shocks. The price of wheat will be one of those shocks. The consequences are already been felt. There is no reason to believe the consequences will not continue to reverberate around the world.


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