Thursday, October 14, 2010

African Agriculture: Chicken Imports, Bananas, and Bangladesh Land Grab

The Bangladesh government joins the group of countries purchasing and leasing land in Africa to grow food for home. They have contacted governments in west Africa (Ghana, Senegal, Cote d'Ivoire, and Liberia). Unlike many other "land grab" proposals, these appear to promise a 50/50 split of food grown so that if Bangladeshi investments can double yields, it is possible for the countries to increase their food availability. As I highlight in my upcoming food policy textbook, cereal yields in west Africa are still more than half what they are in other regions of the world so such a large increase is possible.

Zimbabwe's chicken farmers are upset that the government lifted the temporary ban on chicken imports. Most of the imports come from Brazil and South Africa, which farmers claim heavily subsidize their chicken industries. One kg of chicken costs only $1 to raise in Brazil, but about $2.85 in Zimbabwe which forgoes the use of GMO-inputs. Local chicken sells for roughly $4-5 per kg while the imported chicken goes for $2/kg. The Zimbabwe Poultry Association head complains that "the problem is" lack of government price fixing to prevent retailers from raising the prices on local chickens, which cost much less at wholesale than retail and unfair dumping. Unmentioned are ways government could reduce local costs, help chicken farmers move into other industries, or support both farmers and consumers. Most of what he would like to see happen would benefit producers at the expense of consumers and pit one group of producers against another.

An article praises the benefits of banana culture research and constructing a center to provide marketing and extension services in central Kenya.

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