As food price battles rage globally, it is good for Rwanda that it is not waiting idly, fidgeting with apprehension and waiting to be bailed out by somebody. The good news special to Rwanda - the government is doing everything possible to check the prices from spinning out of control.
The ordinary Rwandan cannot understand the political-economics involving the expensive search for raw materials to use as bio fuel; agricultural subsidies, export bans and tariffs that have exacerbated this grave problem; let us leave those to be sorted out at such international fora like the G8 Summit, or the Doha World Trade Organisation.
To mitigate food price fears, the ministry of Commerce has come up with guidelines on how to keep prices from skyrocketing.
The argument is that since there is plentiful supply of food in Rwanda, the hikes can only be blown out of proportion by profiteering middlemen and cooperatives who still buy cheaply from farmers but want to make a “killing” profit when selling to town dwellers.
So price-control mechanisms have to be set up, without unduly injuring free market economics.The most important policy though, could be the study to increase food production.
This should meet with enthusiasm as, according to World Bank Group President Robert Zoellick, more funding is being provided by the World Bank Group for agriculture and food-related activities - up from $4 billion to $6 billion over the coming year.
There is no reason why Rwanda, which is one of a few African countries doing well on governance issues and genuinely concerned for the common man’s welfare, should not greatly benefit from this fund so as to buy and utilize improved seeds, fertilizers, and improve low-cost farming technology to boost food production.
Ultimately the food battle will be won by the availability of huge food stocks, which will not be damped by high prices.
Let us produce and stock up more and more food on the local level, as we watch the world powers debate whether it is more sustainable to have bio-friendly fuel in their cars than more and cheap food on the table