The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has warned that price of rice has risen by as much as 70% during the past year, with prices set to rise still further. Factors such as flooding, cold weather and urbanization are depleting food supply. Already food riots are leading political concerns. Also as part of the equation is the increased cultivation of organic crops.
The lower yields per acre for organics and the higher prices they command is putting a squeeze on food prices. The prices are further aggravated by the rise in global speculation in commodities fuelled by rush towards Bio fuels.
What does this new trend in commodity prices at international level mean to Rwandans? In short term, it will give us space and time to efficiently put to good use our food excesses. Wastage is likely to be minimized as a result of expected price increases. However in long term, we are likely to go hungry. This again is likely to be caused by short comings in agriculture policy strategies now. Focus has been put on food for foreign currency earnings at the expense of sustainable consumption-production. In Rwanda, like in many African countries, surplus is never stored beyond one month. Crop production per land is agonizingly lowest in the world; distribution channels still meet insurmountable challenges.
In all, the commodity price trends at international markets highlight warnings ahead and responsible ministry should take heed.