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What is the issue?
How does trade injustice affect real people?
Rasmata Sawadogo is a rice farmer in Burkina Faso. In developing countries like Burkina Faso, small farmers often teeter on the edge of survival, struggling to compete with much more efficient, highly subsidized, large-scale farmers in developed countries. The recent global food crisis has exacerbated Rasmata’s bleak situation.
Although the increased food prices allow farmers to sell rice at a higher price, the cost of fertilizer and other farming inputs has also increased. Because Burkina is landlocked, the country must import many of its goods. The high cost of trucking these goods from ports in Ivory Coast, Togo, and Benin is passed on to people like Rasmata. There have been riots over the high cost of food and fuel.
CRS has seen firsthand, through its many development programs, the damaging impact of the crisis on the poorest people. Families eat fewer meals, even skipping days, and children stop going to school to save on education fees to pay for food.
The situation of people like Rasmata is one reason why USCCB has urged preferential treatment for products from developing countries through trade preference programs. Such trade preferences can allow their goods to be more competitive on the global market and gives people like Rasmata an opportunity to support her family. Equipping Rasmata with better skills and equipment to increase her agricultural output goes hand in hand with allowing access to her products in U.S. and other developed-country markets.