Nelly Bassily | July 27, 2009
One year ago, protesters took to the streets of Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. It was the height of the food crisis. Prices for staple foods had skyrocketed. Thousands of people brandished signs and chanted slogans such as “We are hungry, put an end to our suffering.”
The scene in Abidjan is much different today. In the commercial quarter of the city, sounds of transport vehicles mix with the clatter of the local train. Adrienne Gnadndé stands in the market. She extols the virtues of local rice to people passing by. This rice is made in Côte d’Ivoire, she says. It’s less expensive than imported rice and suits our taste.
Ms. Gnadndé is a member of the federation of food-producing cooperatives, or FENACOVICI. This national organization boasts more than 50,000 members. It was founded in 2001. Last year, FENACOVICI made Ivorian rice self-sufficiency their goal.
The organization made its first deliveries of rice to markets earlier this month. The local rice sells for 350 CFA per kilo (approximately 0.76 American dollars or 0.53 Euros). Imported rice is more expensive. It sells for between 400 and 600 CFA per kilo (about 0.87-1.30 American dollars or 0.61-0.91 Euros).
Colette Irié Lou is president of FENACOVICI. She says Ivoirians are taking up the challenge of feeding their own. She assures the public that what they have started, they will complete.
The government is supporting FENACOVICI as part of a plan to reduce dependency on imported food by increasing local rice production. Government funding pays for seeds, farm implements, and new rice processing facilities.
Martinien Gadou is an economist. He says that if domestic rice production continues to increase as scheduled, Côte d’Ivoire should be self-sufficient in rice within three years.
Now, Ms. Irié Lou is asking Ivoirians for their support. She asks them to have faith in FENACOVICI and purchase local rice.