2000s >> 2009 >> no-1262-october-2009

Pieces Together


“Christophe Voivenel is a dairy farmer, and the son of dairy farmers, in one of the finest dairy regions in the world. At some point in the next few days, he will commit an act of sacrilege. He will rise, as usual, at 6am to milk his 60 cows and then throw away the warm, white liquid which is his family’s life’s blood. ‘You have to understand how hard that will be,’ he said. ‘It is like an artist destroying his own painting or a craftsman smashing one of his own creations.’ Mr Voivenel, 43, a farmer near Vire in lower Normandy, is about to go on strike. Tens of thousands of dairy farmers in 14 European countries, including some in Britain, are preparing to join the first ever pan-European ‘milk strike’: an attempt to push up the farm-gate price of milk, which has almost halved in the last 18 months.” (Independent, 29 August)


“Changing weather patterns have decimated crops in several of the world’s poorest countries this year, leaving millions in need of food aid and humanitarian workers warning about the dangerous effects of climate change. Farmers in Nepal have been able to produce only half their usual crop, said an Oxfam International report released last week. Livestock are dying of malnutrition in Yemen, according to the humanitarian news service IRIN. And the Red Cross is bracing for the effects of heavy rains across 16 West and Central African nations. All three are the result of extended atypical weather events – drought, rain, or untimely combinations of both – in places where subsistence farmers have long depended on predictability. In Nepal, more than 3 million people – about 10 percent of the population – will need food aid this year, said Oxfam.” (Yahoo News, 2 September)


“The spectre of famine has returned to the Horn of Africa nearly a quarter of a century after the world’s pop stars gathered to banish it at Live Aid, raising £150m for relief efforts in 1985. Millions of impoverished Ethiopians face the threat of malnutrition and possibly starvation this winter in what is shaping up to be the country’s worst food crisis for decades. Estimates of the number of people who need emergency food aid have risen steadily this year from 4.9 million in January to 5.3 million in May and 6.2 million in June. Another 7.5 million are getting aid in return for work on community projects, as part of the National Productive Safety Net Program for people whose food supplies are chronically insecure, bringing the total being fed to 13.7 million.” (Independent, 30 August)

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