“Not only has it been imported for many years, it has also been given out free in general food distributions, and subsidised. If the price continues as it is, people will need to switch to local cereals, or they simply won’t have access to food.”
says Salif Sow in an IRIN article.
To be fair, the situation is made worse by the fact that there have been bad harvests in local crops in a few countries. That doesn’t make the sentence less unfortunate. I mean, we’re talking about countries where most people make their livelihood by growing food and somehow people manage to make it sound as if more consumption of what they produce is a bad thing.
The same article also has a weird explanation about the economics of the Niger famine:
Good production in Niger coupled with a deficit in Nigeria would means a large part of the grain grown in Niger will pass over the border, and Niger could be left with a shortage as happened in the major crisis in 2005.
In that instance, much of the grain grown in Niger was found to have been used to feed chickens in some of Nigeria’s vast chicken farms, even as people starved in Niger.
Niger, from my knowledge, is not a country of intensive commercial farming. 85% of the population lives off agriculture. So when Nigeria has a bad grain harvest and import grain from Niger, farmers in Niger have more income. And if they have more income, they have more to spend to buy food. So how come a famine still happened ?
The fact that Guinea-Bissau is that dependant on rice imports is even more saddening. In Colonial America slaves from the Senegambia area were actually worth more in the Carolinas because of their knowledge of rice farming. But nowadays, cashew nuts is its main export.