In DRC, a Solution to Crop Thefts?
From VOA Learning English, this is the Agriculture Report. Farmers in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo are protecting against crop theft in an unusual way. The farmers are growing crops that are less likely to be stolen. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization says in the past year many farmers have started to grow different crops. Guillaume Kahomboshi is a food security expert with the FAO in Goma. He says small farmers think the wars that break out at harvest time may just be an excuse to steal their crops. Mr. Kahomboshi notes that most of the people in Rutshuru, a territory near Uganda, are starting to grow soybeans.The expert suggests this is because soybeans are not good to eat until they have been dried and milled. He says the armed groups want food that is ready to eat. In addition, there is good demand for soybeans in Uganda for making biscuits and other processed foods. Farmers in Masisi, another war-stricken territory in Uganda, are switching to growing cassava. Franck Muke is an agronomist at Goma University. He agrees that soybeans are less likely to be stolen. But he is not so sure about cassava, which is called manioc in Congo. He says cassava is more of a risk because it is a staple food. Cassava is not necessarily easy to steal. But it is easily destroyed. The non-governmental organization Concern spoke with people in villages in Masisi. The group reports that there was less theft of cassava than of other crops. Years of war and ethnic conflict in parts of eastern Congo have divided communities there. This means villagers' crops are as likely to be stolen by their neighbors as by the armed groups. For VOA Learning English, I'm Carolyn Presutti.