There are more than six billion people in the world, about one billion of whom have a good to reasonable standard of living, materially speaking. These are the people who live in the prosperous regions on the northern part of the globe: the United States and Europe. The majority of people in these regions are lucky enough to be able to work for a living. Of the other five billion people, about four billion are able to make out a living somehow. They live to work, if do not do that, they have no life at all.
The high costs of raw materials afford Europeans and Americans record profits whilst, at the same time, food in developing countries threatens to become unaffordable. A price increase of 10 Eurocents for a loaf of bread in areas where families are forced to survive on 1 Euro a day has a totally different impact than in a country in prosperous Europe.
Moreover, the same farmers are also responsible for hunger in the world and for allowing that problem to continue, even if they do see this somewhat differently themselves. European farmers are good to their poorer fellow men and where necessary, they contribute generously to food aid. Certainly, that happens sometimes, but food aid arises from surpluses in the market, produced by the farmer. The farmer is paid for these surpluses in the form of compensation from Brussels, so it is actually the European citizen who provides food aid in the end. And it is certainly not generous because these are crumbs compared to the support which farmers in the prosperous West receive from those same citizens, year in, year out. In 2008, European farmers received 45 billion Euros via the European Union, whereas only 160 million Euros was made available for food aid.
A new market outlet was sought and found in countries such as Cameroon, where chickens are initially kept for their eggs and are then promoted to the status of chickens for slaughter. For obvious reasons, in a country like Cameroon, where the native consumer is less choosy than his European counterpart, very little remains of such a chicken. And so the European poultry sector began dumping her “offal” (in European terms) in Africa, with the help of export subsidies. Those subsidies made the chicken remains from Europe much cheaper than the price that the local poultry farmers were used to asking for a chicken. In the period 1996 to 2003 import of European chicken remains increased in Cameroon from 978 ton to 12,000 ton. In the same period, 90% of local poultry farmers went bankrupt and more than 110.000 people lost their jobs.
When the government of Cameroon tried to turn the tide of unfair competition from Europe by means of import tax levies, they were reprimanded by the World Bank and the IMF (International Monetary Fund). If Cameroon wished to continue to avail of loans, the import tax levies on chicken meat and other products had to be lifted, which, of course, they were. And not only in Cameroon: Ghana, The Ivory Coast and Togo also encountered the same blackmail. In this way, agriculture in a number of African countries was, and is still effectively strangled, because this does not only apply to poultry. Heavily subsidized European pureed tomatoes plague the lives of African market gardeners. Dairy farmers barely get a chance to build up their businesses because extremely cheap, heavily subsidised powdered milk from Europe is available in the shops. Here, also, the Dutch farmer plays a part: Friesland Dairy Foods is one of the larger players on the African market.
Coming back to the chicken, the European poultry sector is also hindered by competition. Production in Thailand and Brazil is much cheaper and the poultry farmers in those countries do not need export subsidies to be able to compete with Europe. So Europe tries to keep the market doors closed and only small amounts of meat from those countries is allowed in. Putting it more correctly: all chicken is welcome here, but if import to Europe exceeds the 260,000 ton a year, a firm import tax needs to be paid for the excess. To compare: The Netherlands alone exports more than twice that amount in chicken meat.