ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Clara Jamart « Des prix alimentaires en hausse de 25 à 50 % »
by Interview by D. R.
Translated Friday 15 June 2012, by Helen Robertshawand reviewed by
Clara Jamart is a specialist in food security for Oxfam France.
HUMA: Have you noticed a rise in food prices in the Sahel?
Clara Jamart: The price of foodstuffs is high all over the world, not just in the Sahel. Every month, the FAO produces an index of world food prices. It was at 214 points last month, which is higher than in 2008, during the food riots when it was at 200 points. As for the Sahel, contrary to what usually happens, the price of cereals hasn’t dropped after the harvests. Foodstuffs are between 25-50% more expensive compared to the average for the last five years. And it is thought that prices could increase again by 25-30% in July and August. The rises are between 30-40% in Niger and Chad, between 50-60% in Burkina Faso and 90% in some regions of Mali. It’s a problem because the Sahel only produces half of its food requirements. The producers are also consumers. It’s a crisis of accessibility, not availability. The products are there but people can’t afford to buy them.
HUMA: How do you explain this phenomenon?
Clara Jamart: On a global level, this rise and volatility are the consequences of two factors. The first is the strong competition between the energy market (biofuels) and the food market. The price of oleaginous plants and cereals are pulled upwards by the price of oil, because they have the same use. The second factor is financial speculation. This intensifies price volatility. In the Sahel, Mali and Burkina Faso have limited the circulation of cereals to tackle their crisis. The conflicts in Mali and Nigeria are also hindering the transhumance of breeders. The influx of displaced people and refugees increases food pressure.
HUMA: What is your suggestion for dealing with this problem?
Clara Jamart: We need to put a stop to biofuels and regulate the financial markets for raw materials. In the Sahel, we need to support farmers (access to credit) and increase storage capacities. Controlling stocks makes it possible to control prices.