Date Posted: May 5th, 2008
This week’s news stories may remind you of situations in your area or other parts of your country. Perhaps there have been protests or government action. Maybe you have heard that people cannot afford to buy as much food as they used to, or that farmers cannot afford to grow as much food as they would like to. Here are some suggestions for investigating the impact of food price hikes in your area and what people are doing about it.
Effects on consumers:
-Find out which foods have been affected and by what amount. How much does it cost to purchase staple foods now as compared to a month ago, two months ago, or a year ago?
-What are consumers doing to cope? Are there alternative foods (other than staple grains) that are available at a lower price? Can you find examples of people working together to pool financial and food resources? What support is available for people who cannot meet their nutritional needs?
Effects on farmers:
-What changes have farmers seen in the cost of inputs, such as fertilizer and seeds, and the price they receive for their crops? Has this changed their profit margin or the amount of food they can afford to produce?
-In what ways are farmers working together, through co-operatives or similar groups, to access inputs, share labour, obtain good prices, etc? What do farmers say would help them to produce more food?
-(Please see a previous FRW story by Idy Sy Diop about some West African farmers benefiting from higher crop prices: “Rising cereal prices welcomed by farmers but raise concern among authorities.”)
Response by civil society:
-Have there been protests against rising food prices or the increased cost of living? Which groups (consumers, farmers, other workers, students, etc) have been represented? Have peaceful demonstrators been free to gather and express themselves? If there was a violent protest or a violent response by police, what was the impact on communities?
-What are civil society groups asking the government or citizens to do? What is their response to actions taken by their government so far?
-(Please see a previous FRW story by Lilianne Nyatcha on how violent riots in parts of Cameroon disrupted the poultry industry: “Four-day crisis causes long-term disruption in poultry industry.”)
Response by government:
-Has your government taken any action, such as subsidizing food or reducing taxation on food, to reduce prices or support people who cannot afford food? What is the time frame for this action?
-Has your government called upon farmers, traders, retailers, or others to take action on this issue? Do these groups feel that the suggested action will be effective, and if so, do they have the resources to carry it out?