Sudan Food Famine and the Production Possibilities Curve

Sudan Food Famine and the Production Possibilities Curve

Project description

Access the Sudan Food Famine Article attachment and answer the questions at the end of the article. Your answer should include an explanation of events using economic terminology and concepts (5 points), and graphical analysis illustrating economic effects (5 points).

Farms Destroyed,

Stricken Sudan

Faces Food Crisis

Two Years of Violence Leaves

Growers Afraid to Plant;

Officials Downplay Woes

Cutting Down Mango Trees



February 7, 2005; Page A1

FUR BARANGA, Sudan — After the killings, the rapes, and the expulsion of nearly two million farmers from their land, the people of Darfur are now facing a new threat — the worst food shortage in decades.

“The harvest was so bad, there is no Darfur sorghum,” says Khaltom Khalid, a trader in the local market. Her meager offerings bear witness to the consequences of the intentional destruction of farms across this vast region. All she has for sale is a small mound of the grain, carried by donkeys from the neighboring country of Chad. The price has doubled from this time last year and she offers a measuring cup half the normal size to scoop up smaller portions. But she has so few customers that she spends much of the day sleeping on a reed mat in the sand beside her sorghum, which is used in better times to make flat bread and porridge.

“Prices are high, nobody can afford to buy,” she says. “Everybody is getting hungry.”

For two years, marauding militias composed mainly of Arab nomads and cattle herders have attacked Darfur’s African farmers in a battle over arable land. United Nations agencies estimate more than 70,000 people have already died. Now the food crisis is giving the conflict a deadly new momentum — threatening both the farmers and those who brutalized them.

Averting a hunger disaster here is being made more difficult by at least two factors: The world’s humanitarian attention has turned to focusing on victims of the tsunami in Asia. And since hundreds of farming villages have been flattened and agricultural equipment and seed stock destroyed, any recovery will take much longer.

Last week, a U.N. commission probing the Darfur violence said Sudanese government forces and allied militias have committed atrocities on a “widespread and systematic basis.” It recommended these “serious violations of international human rights” be referred for prosecution in the International Criminal Court. Sudan’s government denies participation in the brutality, saying it is waging a counterinsurgency campaign.

The current scarcity of food, and the harsh market forces it has unleashed, have become the new agents of the violence that has been labeled “genocide” by the U.S. With surviving farmers huddling in domestic refugee camps, two harvests have already been lost. And a third ruinous year looms, as farmers too afraid to leave the camps are giving up on this spring’s planting season.

Government agriculture officials in West Darfur, the most fertile region in the area, say last year’s harvest yielded about 48,000 tons of grains — less than a fifth of the amount needed for the region to feed itself. Prices of everything from sorghum to peanuts have doubled or tripled across Darfur, putting much of the food beyond the reach of the impoverished population.

“We used to grow everything we needed for ourselves, and the surplus we sold in the market. Peanuts, tomatoes, okra, sesame, wheat, sorghum,” says Khamis Adam Hassen Okey, the leader of Andarbrow, a farming village in West Darfur. It was leveled during an attack in October 2003, he says, just as the harvest began.

Mr. Okey says 46 villagers were killed and five women were raped. The survivors among the village’s 150 families fled to Fur Baranga, where they now live in small thatch huts, in the courtyard of an unfinished hospital and are cared for by international relief agencies. “We are farmers,” he says. “But if we go out from this place to plant, we will be killed.”

Even Arab camel and cattle herders — many of whom have taken part in attacking the farmers and now graze their animals on land where crops once grew — complain of not having enough to eat. In some parts of Darfur, the fighting has blocked herders from moving their livestock north to the markets in Libya and Egypt. With their sales down, they don’t have enough money to pay the higher prices for what little food is available.

He insists Darfur’s farmers, despite continuing security threats, will leave the camps and return to their farms to plant this spring. He concedes the farmers’ seeds, tools and livestock have been destroyed in the war, which the government blames on tribal conflicts. Still, he says, “God willing, we’ll get a good crop.”

But farmers in the refugee camps say they have given up hope of returning in time to plant, fearing attacks from the same militias — known as the Janjaweed — that drove them away in the first place. “No way I’m going back this year,” says Matair Abdall, emphatically shaking her head.

Her village of Willo, she says, was destroyed by the Janjaweed, who burned the fields, knocked down huts and chased away farmers in late 2003. Ms. Abdall says she, her husband and four children walked three hours to a refugee camp. Last spring, she returned to plant sorghum. As the crop started growing, cattle ate some of it, she says, but the herders who have taken over her village let the rest grow. At harvest time, she filled six 200-pound bags, which she says would have fed her family for much of the year.

Men With Guns

“Then five men with guns on horses, they were the Janjaweed, surrounded me and said, ‘Give us the harvest.’ I was afraid and gave it to them,” says Ms. Abdall. “I won’t go through that again this year.”

Instead, she sits in one of the camp’s activities center with two dozen women, weaving baskets to earn some money.

“We’ll never feel as safe farming again,” says Asha Ashagg, 35, who nurses the youngest of her five children while she weaves. She says she was driven out of her village by the Janjaweed. Once she returned home to check on her garden and fruit trees, she says, and found that even her mango trees and banana plants had been cut down. “They do it so we won’t return,” she says. When she was at her village, she says, “the Janjaweed came and asked, ‘Why have you come back? What is your tribe?’.” She says she ran back to the camp and hasn’t returned home since.

The road from her refugee camp to Fur Baranga, a 100-mile dirt path through scrub brush, is lined with destroyed villages. Scattered clay water pots, the remains of small mud-brick houses and abandoned schools and health centers are evidence of people uprooted. Cows, sheep, goats and camels now graze where crops once grew.

Mr. Okey’s home of Andarbrow is one of the empty roadside villages. “Only after all the guns are collected will we go home,” he says. In the meantime, his villagers, crowded into the Fur Baranga camp, rely on food from the World Food Program, and the little money they make cleaning up after traders in the market.

Mr. Ishac says his garden withered from a lack of rain. He says he normally had a year’s worth of grain in his house, but most of that is gone and he must go to the market every day to buy food. Instead of giving leftovers to his goats and sheep, he now keeps the scraps for his family. Porridge from the day before dries in a pan set out in the morning sun. When a gust of wind topples the pan, the children scramble to gather the pieces of porridge and clean them. Mr. Ishac says it will be tonight’s dinner.

“If there’s no general distribution of food here,” he says, “the prices will just keep increasing.”

As will the hunger. With tens of thousands of refugees packed into the El Geneina area, the labor pool is bloated and wages are low. Several of the women in the weaving center also work at the local brick factory, where they form clay into rugged rectangles which harden in the sun. They say the pay is about 40 cents for every 1,000 bricks, which take about two days to make.

Only after 2,000 bricks will they have enough for a half-measure of sorghum at the market. That will make one meal.


Demonstrate the effect of the war in the Sudan on Sudan’s productive capabilities in terms of the production possibility curve regarding Industrial Goods and Agricultural Goods.

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