Re: hunger

Jim Peron (
Sun, 10 Jan 1904 14:57:31 +0000

Dear Mark:

I received your email regarding hunger in Africa. I think I'm the only
person on the list actually living in Africa so I would like to
contribute something.

Donations of food or money will do almost nothing to alleviate hunger in
Africa. The problems are not problems of production or distribution but
politics. Ethiopia is one of the richest nations in the world in
agricultural terms. Yet the famine there was political induced. The
Marxist regime confiscated food and used it in areas where they had
support. The food was confiscated from areas which didn't support the
Marxists. And it was in these areas that people starved. Food aid sent
to Ethiopia was, to a very large degree, off loaded in the capital and
used by the government.

In Zimbabwe the Marxist regime of Mugabe is now confiscating the most
productive farms in the country simply on the basis of the race of the
owners. These farms, each of which feed thousands, will be turned into
small subsistance plots feeding only a fraction of that number.

African governments are fond of requiring farmers to sell all their
crops to the governmment at super low prices (in the name of feeding the
people). The food is then resold on the world market at the higher
market prices and the profit kept in Swiss bank accounts of the petty
dictators who run the country.

In other countries where the governments are slightly less authoritarian
and corrupt food aid does get distributed. The result of all this free
food is that local farmers are put out of business. The only way they
can stay in business is selling their products at a profit which is
impossible when their competition is free food. Decades of aid have
destroyed local farming.

In the 50s Africa exported food to the rest of the world. In the 60s it
was self-sufficient. By the 70s everything had gone to hell. If you read
my chapter "The Shambles of Africa" in my book Exploding Population
Myths I explain some of the reasons why this happened. Another
worthwhile book is George Ayittey's Africa Betrayed. George is Ghanian
economist worth reading.

And given the policies they are promoting now in South Africa I predict
a general decline in food production here as well. It will take some
time to s how up but everything is in place to destroy local productive

Jim Peron