Monday, August 20, 2007

Misguided Charity

The Controversy Behind International Food Donations

Why does CARE turn down $ 45 million of food aid from the US? Can food possibly hurt more than it helps?

From Manila Bulletin:

CARE’s Alina Labrada pointed out that donation of wheat and other crops does not help in regions where people consistently go hungry because local farming has been weakened by international competition (globalization). She told AP’s Katherine Houreld that the "mechanism" is more hurtful than helpful.

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From Alertnet:

If you flood a market with cheap food, prices tend to fall. While that's good for those buying the food, collapsing prices can hurt poor farmers who are struggling to make a living. This has a knock-on effect on the whole agricultural sector. Say wheat prices drop and people start buying wheat instead of maize. Then maize producers suffer.

There is also a danger when food aid arrives too late that it will disrupt the market for the next season's harvest, making it harder for local farmers to recover. Many experts say this happened to Malawi in 2002, and could become a problem in Niger in 2005.

Read the full article

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