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Started by Dan-Borno, April 16, 2008, 06:08:23 PM

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Food Prices May Spark Revolution in Africa, ANC's Zuma Says

By Mike Cohen

June 5 (Bloomberg) -- Rising food prices could fuel political instability that African governments will be unable to contain, said Jacob Zuma, leader of South Africa's ruling African National Congress.

``The issue of food prices is actually a time bomb,'' Zuma said at a World Economic Forum meeting in Cape Town today. ``An uprising could emerge. I don't think there is lots that governments could do.''

Rising food prices have sparked protests across the continent in countries including Kenya, Ivory Coast, Cameroon and South Africa. While global prices are partly responding to food demand in China and India, they are also being driven by the wider use of crops for fuels and increased speculation by commodity investors.

``Oil prices are driving up food in a way we cannot deal with,'' South African Finance Minister Trevor Manuel said in Cape Town. Governments in rich nations must to do more to contain food demand or ``the wealthy are going to take everything, leaving the poor destitute.''

Thorleif Enger, chief executive officer of Oslo-based Yara International ASA, the world's biggest fertilizer company, said Africa had the potential to increase its food output fivefold. Africa uses about 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of fertilizer per hectare (2.47 acres) of farmland, a 20th of what was used in south Asia, he added.

``Higher food prices are something we have to deal with in future,'' Enger said. ``We have taken for granted that lower food prices were here to stay.''

Rising food prices presented Africa with an ``opportunity to turn around food production, said Monty Jones, executive director of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa in Ghana.

``We all believe agriculture is the backbone for economic growth in Africa,'' he said. ``The majority of the working population in Africa is engaged in farming.''

To contact the reporter on this story: Mike Cohen in Cape Town at

Allah ya kiyaye, amin.
Get to know [and remember] Allah in prosperity & He will know  [and remember] you in adversity.