DRC remains food-fragile state, FAO representative says


Kinshasa, May 18th, 2022 (CPA).- The Democratic Republic of Congo remains a fragile state in terms of food despite its resources and its cultivable agricultural potential, estimated at more than 75 million hectares, of which less than 10 million hectares are exploited, said the FAO representative in the DRC, Aristide Ongone Obame. According to the UN diplomat who underlined it in a declaration read during the UN press conference, Wednesday in Kinshasa, the report of the 20th cycle of the IPC in the DRC reveals more than 27 million people in phase of acute food and livelihood crisis, with 26% of the population analyzed in need of urgent action.

The following factors are at the root of this food insecurity situation in the country, he said. These are poor performances of agricultural production, due to the poor distribution of rains, crop diseases and pests or limited access to seeds which are, in the majority of the territories analysed, the main factors limiting the food security of households; epizootics that deprive households of an alternative source of income; and the dilapidation of infrastructure and communication routes.

In addition, armed and community conflicts prevent households from accessing their fields and lead to the looting of crops; the activism of these groups and conflicts cause population movements forcing households to leave behind their livelihoods. Similarly, the Covid-19 pandemic and its restrictions (state of health emergency), household activities have not fully resumed, particularly in areas dependent on cross-border activities (Equateur, North Kivu, Ituri, Lualaba, Kasaï): livelihoods and household purchasing power are limited, particularly in rural areas in a context of high staple food prices that limit households’ ability to access food. Added to this is a low consumption of diversified foods.

Impact of the Russian-Ukrainian crisis

The Russian Federation and Ukraine are the two main suppliers of wheat, corn, barley, edible oil, fuel and fertilizers to world markets. The main risks for countries in food crisis stem from their dependence on imports of food products and agricultural inputs.

At the beginning of April 2022, the economic situation in the DRC was relatively stable despite the risks of a future impact of the Ukrainian crisis, in particular with regard to the increase in the prices of gas and crude oil as well as certain foods. base, underlined the representative of the FAO. Also, weekly inflation fell from 0.33% to 0.34% during the last week of March, and food prices on local markets increased only slightly, particularly in Kinshasa.

Cereals account for the largest share of imported food products, followed by sugar, fruits and vegetables and fish. While nearly 70% of all wheat imports into the DRC come from the Russian Federation and Ukraine, it should be noted that wheat represents a relatively small percentage of staple foods consumed in the DRC. Nevertheless, wheat is an important staple, especially for urban households, and consumers are complaining about the sharp rise in the price of bread.

The National Movement of Wronged Consumers (MNCL) deplored that in Kinshasa the price of sandwich bread had recently increased from CDF 500 to CDF 750, and expressed concern that wages would remain the same, revealed the head of the FAO in DRC