ABSTRACT

When a harvest is poor the farm household is liable to run out of rice before the next year’s harvest is due. The problem of pre-harvest hunger is at its most intense in July and August. This chapter aims to answer the questions how, when, and who does pre-harvest hunger strike, and what can the victims do about it. Most farmers in Mogbuama are vulnerable to the hazards that lead to pre-harvest hunger but there are few years in which these hazards affect all farmers simultaneously. Hunger is a direct outcome of the failure of the ‘household’ rice farm. The most common causes of farm failure are early rainfall, sickness (including accidents) and miscalculations of an interpersonal or micro-political character. Mogbuama farm households pursue a number of agronomic strategies for fending off hunger, of which intercropping (especially production of cotton) and planting early rice are among the most important.