News / Africa

DRC Farmers, Facing Theft, Switch to Less Edible Crops

Kwabo  Batembo and her four sisters, unseen, clean Casava, a staple food, on the outskirts of the small village of Walikale, Congo, Sept. 18, 2010.
Kwabo Batembo and her four sisters, unseen, clean Casava, a staple food, on the outskirts of the small village of Walikale, Congo, Sept. 18, 2010.
Nick Long
Aid workers are predicting another year of insecurity and forced displacement for rural people in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.  They say that to cope with marauding armed groups, farmers are switching to crops that are less likely to be stolen.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization conducts regular surveys in eastern DRC and has found in the past year that many farmers have been switching to crops they did not grow previously.

The FAO attributes this change to increased insecurity. Guillaume Kahomboshi is a food security expert with the FAO in Goma.

He says the peasants are struck by the way that wars here always seem to break out at harvest time.  They are thinking the wars may just be an excuse to steal their crops, he adds.

To try to reduce the risk of their harvest being stolen many peasants are switching to other crops, according to Kahomboshi.

For example, he says, in Rutshuru, a territory near Uganda that is mostly controlled by armed groups, most of the peasants are starting to grow soya.

Kahomboshi suggests this is because soya is unpalatable until it has been dried and milled, and the armed groups prefer food that is ready to eat.  

In addition, there is good demand for soya in Uganda, where it is milled and then used as an ingredient in biscuits and other processed foods.

Kahomboshi tells VOA that farmers in Masisi, another war-stricken territory west of Rutshuru, are switching to growing cassava, another crop which he says is less vulnerable to theft by armed groups.

Agronomist Franck Muke at Goma University agrees with Kahomboshi that soya is less likely to be stolen but he’s not so sure about cassava, known as manioc in Congo.

He says cassava is more of a risk because it is a staple food, and he has noticed that although cassava is not easy to pilfer, because it has to be uprooted and then dried and milled, it is often quickly pillaged.

However, the non-governmental organization Concern, which did a survey of villages affected by ethnic conflict in Masisi, reported less theft of cassava than of other crops.

Among the hundreds of thousands facing the problem of crop theft in eastern Congo are the inhabitants of a camp for displaced people at the town of Kitchanga.

Several camp residents who spoke to VOA had recently come from the nearby village of Kahemba.  They had left, they said, because of a tax imposed by an armed group of one and a half dollars a month.  Several people said they were unable to pay this tax, and if they did not pay it, they risked being killed.

Some people in the displaced camp said they go back to Kahemba from time to time to try to look after their crops.

One farmer, Germain Ngowa, suggested they could guard their crops better if they organized their own patrols.

We could share the task of guarding the crops, he says, by forming a union, and for example women could do this during the day and the men could do it at night.  He acknowledged that they would have no defense against armed marauders, but seemed to think this could still help prevent theft.

Kahemba is not deserted, but the people who have stayed there have to support the militias, either through the monthly tax and often by enrolling their young men.

The sad reality is that years of war and ethnic conflict in parts of eastern Congo have divided communities against themselves, so that villagers’ crops are as likely to be stolen by their neighbors as by the armed groups.

You May Like

Australia Knights Prince Philip, Sparking National Outrage

Abbott's surprise reintroduction of knights and dames in the country's honors system last year drew criticism that he was out of touch with national sentiment More

SAG Award Boosts 'Birdman' Oscar Hopes

Individual acting Oscars appear to be sewn up: SAG awards went to artists who won Golden Globes: Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne, Patricia Arquette, J.K. Simmons More

Katy Perry Lights Way for Super Bowl's Girl Power Moment

Pop star's selection to headline US football championship's halftime show extends NFL's trend of selecting artists who appeal to younger viewers More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sidesi
X
June Soh
January 23, 2015 10:03 PM
The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid