Sunday, February 16, 2014

Food prices soar in Cameroon's cities as water runs short

Elias Ntungwe Ngalame in Thomson Reuters Foundation: ... many residents of Yaounde and Douala [in Cameroon] are struggling to cope with a sudden rise in food prices over the past three months, believed to have been triggered by recent climate instability.

The situation is evoking memories of 2008, when a sharp increase in food prices caused riots in the cities of Yaounde and Douala, leaving more than 100 dead according to the government.

The shortage of food has been compounded by prolonged water scarcity that has put many local farmers in peril. Experts say severe drought triggered by a long absence of rain has cut projected yields of crops like cassava, plantain, cocoyam, maize and rice.

“The climate around Yaounde and Douala, the two most populated cities in Cameroon, has been very unstable in the last three years, making it very difficult for farmers to plan for their planting,” said Michael Andong, an agriculture technician with the Ministry of Agriculture in Yaounde.

“Many farmers erroneously plant after signs of unusual early rains in February that disappear sooner … leaving the crops to dry up. This climate abnormality has really affected food crop production, causing scarcity and an increase in prices,” Andong said...

A market in Yaounde, Cameroon

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