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And, yes, I DO take it personally: Afghanistan - what's happening with the food crisis in a REALLY poor country
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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Afghanistan - what's happening with the food crisis in a REALLY poor country


i see nothing but trouble ahead for nations around the world as the poor are increasingly unable to afford to feed themselves and their families... a man with an empty stomach, negligible income, with many hungry mouths to feed, who is confronted every day with ever-rising food prices, will, in short order, become a very angry man, and rightly so...

here's the scenario in afghanistan, a scenario i only have to step outside the gate of the project compound to experience...

As the global food crisis deepens, bringing inflation and shortages to many countries, Afghanistan -- already facing a protracted drought, entrenched rural poverty and an ongoing conflict with Islamist insurgents -- finds itself battling the added threat of hunger.

For generations, Afghans have depended on cheap, plentiful bread as their main staple. The country's principal crop is wheat, and its farmers produce more than 5 million tons in a good year. Although that is not enough to feed the entire population, wheat can usually be trucked in from neighboring Pakistan.

Since February, however, a combination of local drought and regional shortages has driven the price of flour here to once-unimaginable levels -- as much as $50 for a 40-pound sack. Pakistan, also worried about how to feed 160 million-plus people, has closed its borders to food exports, as have a number of other largely agricultural countries anxious to stave off domestic hardship and political unrest.

So far, Afghan authorities and international charities have prevented the wheat flour shortage here from reaching crisis proportions by finding emergency sources. The government has trucked in tons of flour from Kazakhstan, and the U.N. World Food Program has raised money to import 85,000 tons from major wheat-producing countries such as Canada and Australia.

In addition, enterprising smugglers have continued to bring in truck after truck piled with sacks of flour from Pakistan. Sacks are said to cross the border surreptitiously on donkey-back, via bribery at official crossing spots and buried deep inside cargo trucks carrying Afghan refugees and their belongings back home.

i don't think anybody, even a lot of the better off people here in kabul, realizes just how potentially explosive this situation is...

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