Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Food for thought

When I first moved to my apartment, the red roadside kiosk up the hill was selling eggs for five shillings (six cents in USD) a piece.

In late February the price went up to six shillings.

One day in mid-March I went to buy some eggs and they cost seven shillings each. The next day, the price had gone up to eight.

"What?" I asked the Ethiopian kiosk owner, "Yesterday the eggs were seven?"

"I know, I know," he said. "Everything is going up. Bread used to be 25 shillings. Now it's 35. Milk is up too. What can I do?"

Kiosk_4_web_2There are many factors affecting food prices in Kenya right now. Global prices for fuel, fertilizers and seeds are going up. The economy is struggling since the post-election violence. The rainy and dry seasons are no longer predictable, so farmers are unsure when to plant. And many people in rural areas who grew their own food and/or grew food for market are still displaced from their land.

The changes affect everyone: wholesalers, transporters, farmers, vendors and customers.

The government is promising subsidized fertilizer, but it's not clear how many farmers will benefit from the plan in this planting season.

Here's a short report I did for Voice of America that touches on some of the myriad issues.

It's a little frustrating to attempt to sum up such a big, important issue into a little story. Anybody want to pay me to write 2,000 or more words on it?

Saturday, May 10, 2008