European wheat exports to Africa: a contribution against hunger and misery or obstructing development aid?
African farmers can’t compete against cheap European wheat with their domestic produce. In the Senegalese capital Dakar, reporter Katharina Schickling almost exclusively discovers products made from imported wheat, such as baguette, in the bakeries. Bread made of wheat flour was largely unknown in Africa until the beginning of colonial rule. Instead, porridge or pancakes were consumed from cereals such as sorghum or millet, which thrive even in hot climates. Bread made from wheat flour became the staple food of the European colonial rulers. Since wheat does not grow well in Africa’s climate, a deadly dependency began: in Senegal, for example, millet consumption per capita decreased from 80 kilograms in 1961 to 25 kilograms in 2010. During this period, German wheat exports quadrupled to the West African country. What bothers many Senegalese is that wheat from expensive German acreage can only be offered so much cheaper because German farmers receive subsidies from tax revenue. “It’s like putting someone on a 4WD bike to the start line, and then they say, ‘On your marks, get set, go! The SUV will always win,'” explains Baba Ngom of the Senegalese Rural Development Association. German experts such as Stefan Liebing from the Africa Association of German Business also see the development skeptically. Subsidies in European agriculture would destroy a lot, it would be better to protect the emerging industries in Africa. A Marshall Plan for Africa is currently being widely discussed. There would be a very simple measure: an end to the EU trade policy in the agricultural sector. Exports to Africa – which at first glance look like positive action against hunger and hardship – actually destroy sources of income for native and drive people out of the country.