This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Food Riots in Mozambique

Food prices have risen in 2010, driven especially by the
drought and fires in Russia that have limited the harvest being exported from that country. In very poor and rapidly growing countries like Mozambique even a small rise in price can severely threaten a family's food security and the frustration has led to violence, although the fact that the rioting was spurred by young men is not surprising in a country like Mozambique where one out of every ten people is a male aged 15-24.

The trouble this week started Wednesday in the capital, Maputo. Protesters, most of them young men, started marching peacefully but then began throwing stones, burning tires and looting shops. Police opened fire, and tourists and business people were trapped in their hotels or at the airport as mobs cut off the airport road. At least seven people were killed and scores injured.
The government has urged calm, saying it can do little about the high prices, which were sparked by a drop in the value of the import-dependent nation's currency. It pointed out that Mozambique grows only 30 percent of the wheat it needs. "The importation of wheat and other commodities incur high costs in international markets," government spokesman Antonio Nkutumula said.

There has been a concern that recent food prices might be similar to the spike in 2008, but that was caused largely by speculation on corn prices brought about by the short-lived and ill-conceived idea to to create biofuels instead of food out of corn.

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