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

New England Bears Brunt of US Blizzard

Boston, surrounding region grapple with as much as 3 feet of snow, coastal flooding; leaders in New York, spared most severe weather, criticized for being overly cautious More

China Lifts Lid on Sale of Fake Goods Online

A recent survey found nearly 60 percent of a random sample of items bought from Taobao were fake More

Upward Aims to Create Old-girls Network in Silicon Valley

Lisa Lambert, an executive with Intel Corp.'s venture-capital unit, responds to the gender-disparity debate by creating a new social organization 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.
NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Spacei
X
Rosanne Skirble
January 27, 2015 5:05 PM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.
Video

Video Weekly Protests in Korea Keep Japanese WWII Atrocities Alive

Every week in Seoul protesters gather in front of the Japanese Embassy to demand an apology and reparations from Tokyo for the thousands of South Korean women who were forced into prostitution during World War II. Although this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, these protestors have helped keep the issue of comfort women alive and made it difficult for Japan to move beyond its past wartime atrocities. VOA's Brian Padden reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Exercise: New Prescription for Parkinsons Disease

Exercise could be the new prescription for Parkinson's Disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. More than six million people worldwide suffer from Parkinsons and they're traditionally treated with medication and surgery. Shelley Schlender has more.
Video

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Greece’s youngest-ever prime minister, 40-year-old Alexis Tsipras, was sworn in Monday after his victorious far-left Syriza party entered a coalition with far right rivals. Tsipras says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts. So begins a new chapter for the country at the epicenter of Europe’s economic crisis - a change that has sent tremors across the continent, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
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 Oil Price Drop Troubles Texas Producers

As oil prices have fallen over the past several months, drilling operations have slowed in some parts of the United States - including Texas, the state that surpasses all others in energy production. The Lone Star State’s energy output has been boosted in recent years by development of resources trapped deep below ground in the Eagle Ford shale deposit, which stretches across south central Texas. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Karnes City, Texas, the drop in oil prices has created concerns,
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.

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