Abstract This paper examines the causes of Africa's food crisis by examining patterns of food imports. The econometric results indicate that the rise in food imports during 1970-87 can be explained by a combination of demographic, policy, and economic factors which have raised domestic demand for imported food. These factors include urban migration, peaks in income (especially during commodity booms), lower international prices of food, and distorted exchange rates. After accounting for these factors, the residual trend in food imports per capita is negative over this period. Evidence is also presented showing that, in Ghana, policy reforms have led to reverse migration from urban to rural areas.