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High food costs threaten poor in Africa

Alisa Roth Apr 10, 2008


Renita Jablonski: You’ve probably noticed the cost of food has gone up lately. In some cases, by a good chunk of change. It’s even worse in the developing world, where hunger is often a problem. The World Bank came out with a report this week saying the high cost of food threatens to undo recent gains in the fight against poverty and malnutrition. One solution is to increase loans for agriculture in Africa. Alisa Roth has more.

Alisa Roth: The World Bank says it’ll nearly double lending for agriculture in Africa in the next fiscal year. From $450 million to $800 million dollars. Soren Ambrose is Africa Program manager at watchdog group Bank Information Center. He says the extra money could make a difference.

Soren Ambrose: If the programs are wisely designed and wisely implemented, they could contribute to restoring some of the healthy markets in Africa we haven’t had in several decades.

But what constitutes a wisely designed and wisely implemented program?

Ambrose: Programs that will provide credit for small farmers, people who don’t have any money at the beginning of the planting season, but who can produce in the end.

Still, this is a longer-term solution to prevent another situation like the one we’re in. For the short-term, the international community’s going to have to come up with something else — like more food aid.

In New York, I’m Alisa Roth for Marketplace.

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