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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Food and Conflict: Conflict Resilient Food Policy, Systems and Cropping Choice


ConDev’s Strategic Analytics Lab’s (SAL) research in this area began with two influential articles on:

  • How food and commodity prices can be used to forecast and predict conflict
  • How commodity price fluctuations are the root cause of conflict

The published articles are:

Chen, J., Kibriya, S., Bessler, D., & Price, E. (2018). The relationship between conflict events and commodity prices in Sudan. Journal of Policy Modeling, 40(4), 663-684.

Bessler, D. A., Kibriya, S., Chen, J., & Price, E. (2016). On Forecasting Conflict in the Sudan: 2009–2012. Journal of Forecasting, 35(2), 179-188.

Upon generating evidence on commodity prices and conflict SAL performed two comprehensive case studies that how resilient indigenous approaches in Eastern DRC promote conflict resistant agriculture. The case studies were:

Kibriya, S. R., Partida, V., King, J., & Price, E. (2014). Conflict resistant agribusiness in Democratic Republic of Congo. International food and agribusiness management review, 17(1030-2016-83017), 75-80: ESCO Kivu SPRL, located in Beni and Butembo North Kivu, is one of the few successful medium sized agribusiness enterprises in the region. ESCO pursues a line of conflict-resistant enterprises: chinchona (quinine), cacao and vanilla. Chinchona is the most conflict resistant product, while cacao is the most profitable. The company operates 26 trucks and 31 small stores, utilizing over 50 agronomists and 16,000 small stakeholder farmers. Farmers receive production support and a 15% premium for quality and exclusivity. ESCO exports cacao to the USA to specialty organic chocolate processors such as Theo’s, in Seattle, USA. Vanilla exports also go to USA buyers assisted by VANEX (Association Vanilla Exporters of Uganda). This study focuses on ESCO’s conflict resistant business strategies in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Kibriya, S., Savio, G., Price, E., & King, J. (2016). The Role of Conflict in Farmers’ Crop Choices in North Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo. International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, 19(1030-2016-83130), 99-118 (Finalist in best article category at IFAMA conference): Cropping choices under uncertainty caused by weather, input prices, and ecological conditions have been addressed in contemporary literature. However, uncertainty arising from violent conflict on farming choices lacks substantial academic attention. In this research we address the ramifications of conflict on household cropping choices, building on the notion of “conflict resistant” cropping systems introduced in Kibriya et al. 2014 and King et al. 2013. We argue that farming households’ preferences change under conflict as they revert to a cropping system that minimizes losses. This novel concept is solidified by formulating a definition through rational choice theory. The theoretical expectations are verified through data obtained from 2300 smallholder farming households in North Kivu, DRC. A case study and propensity score matching methods are employed to demonstrate that conflict-affected households focus more on low-value crops that are less frequently stolen in order to maximize the probability of survival.

As a part of the communication buy-in, SAL is partnering with other conflict researchers to prepare two more in-depth articles on:

If food security and household level food-sharing behavior can be used an effective tool to mitigate household level low-intensity conflict:
This study establishes a direct linkage between household-level food security and food benevolence with the reduction of conflict using novel data from 1763 households of North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo. Using propensity score matching, we find that food security decreases conflict with other households by up to 10 percentage points and conflict against groups within the community by around 4 percentage points. Furthermore, households that help others with food experience a further reduction of up to 24 percentage points in conflict against individual households and 5.3 percentage points in conflict against groups. The findings indicate that benevolence towards others may be a potential channel through which food security reduces household level conflict. Our results hold through a rigorous set of robustness checks including a doubly robust estimator, placebo regression, matching quality tests and Rosenbaum bounds for hidden bias. We conclude by recommending more food security programs for micro-level conflict mitigation by promoting benevolence and social cohesion among community members.

How cropping cultures through a greater fostering of collaboration can reduce conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa.
This study explores whether specific crops are associated with higher levels of conflict across sub-Saharan Africa and if such phenomena can be explained by the “rice theory of culture”. The rice theory claims that rice cultivation fosters greater cooperation among people and thereby reduces conflict. We combine 0.5 X 0.5 degree geo-referenced conflict data from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) for the period of 1997-2016, and the Spatial Production and Allocation Model (SPAM) crop data for 2014. We use the proportion of land area dedicated to irrigation technology as an indicator for the level of social cooperation. We also include a wide range of controls such as income, population, ethnicity, country, religion, absolute value of latitude, elevation, ruggedness of terrain, and soil fertility from other datasets available for the region. We use linear probability models and standard errors clustered by grids to estimate our results. We find that contrary to the rice theory of culture, wheat cultivation is associated with a lower probability of conflict in sub-Saharan Africa. Furthermore, it appears that maize, pearl millet, and cassava are also associated with a lower probability of conflict compared to rice cultivation. In addition, the greater the area of land dedicated to irrigation technology in the cultivation of maize, the lower the probability of conflict. This is consistent with the notion that irrigation fosters social cooperation and leads to a lower probability of conflict. We conclude that while rice is the most important crop for east and south Asia, maize is the dominant crop of at least a quarter of sub-Saharan Africa. Therefore, we conclude that the maize phenomena of sub-Saharan Africa is tantamount to the rice theory for Asia. As a result, greater coordination efforts shown in irrigating and growing maize lowers the probability of conflict in sub-Saharan Africa.

 In addition, Dr. Ed Price is studying the use of cassava and lime beans as conflict-resistant crops.

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