It’s late evening in the Comorian capital of Moroni, but the town’s harbor is filled with eager faces.
A cargo of 800 tons of rice docked in the Indian Ocean archipelago and was unloaded on October 3, after three months of shortages that have sharpened hunger and stoked unrest.
“We can officially declare the end of the rice shortage,” said Onicor’s Ben Abdallah Youssouf.
Onicor is a state agency that has a monopoly on the import and trade of “ordinary” rice, the cheapest and most consumed variety.
But many locals who have struggled to put food on the table in recent weeks said they were far from convinced.
“They say there’s enough rice for everyone, but I don’t believe that anymore,” said Bin Laden, who like many others had joined the crowd at the wharf in the hope of get your hands on a bag.
Like the rest of the world, Comoros, with a population of around 890,000 between Madagascar and the east coast of the African continent, has suffered from soaring grain prices and food shortages.
But in a few months, the rice crisis has reached its climax here and caused clashes in the small poor country, which imports most of its consumption from India and Pakistan.
The shortage of “white gold”, as the cereal is called here, was first cruelly felt on the island of Anjouan, the most densely populated of the archipelago.
Rationing is put in place, a bag of 25 kilos is sometimes enough for six families. Over the weeks, the queues have lengthened in front of the distribution points. The wait often lasted for hours. Some put up a brick to mark their spot as they went about their business.