A new vision for agriculture
momagri, movement for a world agricultural organization, is a think tank chaired by Christian Pèes.
It brings together, managers from the agricultural world and important people from external perspectives,
such as health, development, strategy and defense. Its objective is to promote regulation
of agricultural markets by creating new evaluation tools, such as economic models and indicators,
and by drawing up proposals for an agricultural and international food policy.
A look at the news

As food prices climb, North African streets erupt into violence

17 January 2011

Since early January 2011, Tunisia and Algeria have been experiencing fierce riots partly generated by soaring food prices. The flare-up of violence was not brought down by the appeasement measures put forward by the governments in power.

“Here, what sparked off the crisis was a staple price surge that was sorely felt by young people […] whose families spend half of their average budget for food products,” stated Karim Amellal, a writer and lecturer at the Paris Institute of Political Studies, in an interview given to the Algerian daily El Watan on January 10.

Prices for flour, sugar and cooking oil indeed rocketed in Algeria. While one kilogram (2.2 lbs) of sugar used to cost 70 dinars (€0.70) only a few months ago, it is 150 dinars (€1.60) today.

In a bid to quell these price hikes and “calm down” the population, the Algerian Government decided on January 8 to temporarily cancel the tariffs and VAT on brown sugar and food products, a measure that should remain in effect until August 31, 2011. As for flour, the Government will not modify prices but import quotas for bread wheat will be increased.

Rising food prices are surely not the sole reason for the unrest in the Maghreb. Tunisia and Algeria are nations ravaged by endemic unemployment and deep-seated cleavages between the people and the elites, but observers agree to point out that the high food prices acted as a catalyst for a latent social explosion of violence, as was already the case in the past.

These events are reminding us that high food staple prices are very often the root and a catalyst for social unrest. In 1984 and under the Habib Bourguiba regime, Tunisia already experienced “bread riots” that were then caused by rising bread and grain prices, and generated the death of 70 people.

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