Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Man-made Famine

"This crisis is man-made" the World Bank's lead economist for Kenya Wolfgang Fengler told Reuters.

Fengler said the price of maize, or corn, was significantly higher in east Africa than in the rest of the world due to controls on local food markets. "In Kenya, the price for corn is 60 to 70 percent above the world average at the moment," he said. "A small number of farmers are controlling the market which is keeping prices artificially high. Maize is cheaper in the United States and in Germany than it is in eastern Africa." According to Fengler, "If Kenyans would buy at international prices, they would just buy at something like $30 per bag of maize -- now they pay $45 per bag"

"It's a crisis because this region is still a poor region where half the population and more live below $2 a day," says Fengler. "They spend on average half of their income on food. And obviously if prices go up, then they reduce the food intake."
The price of a 90 kilogram bag of maize, which is the main food source for most Kenyans, jumped from about $16 in June 2010 to about $44 in July 2011 -- an increase of 160%. The poorest have even fewer assets to sell, leaving them less money to buy food.

"It's basically 1,000 farmers who are benefiting from a relatively inefficient system where prices are kept at a high level to the detriment of the mass of the population,"
he says. "Basically it's a system of re-distribution from the poor to the rich."

The United Nations says an average of ten Somali children under the age of five die in Ethiopia's Kobe refugee camp every day. More than 29,000 children under the age of five have starved to death over the past three months in southern Somalia.

1 comment:

J.M. patienceandperseverance said...

Everything about capitalism: is man made.