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Starvation occurs in The Rice Harvest when the village runs out of stored food. The harvest happens at the end of each season, so you cannot rely on a seasonís harvest to feed the people for that season.

If the stores look as if they are running low, the villagers will go and buy food from the market automatically, without your permission. If there is still not enough food available (or if there is none at all), what is there is divided equally amongst the whole population. However, running out of food does not automatically kill everybody. Many people can subsist on foraging and scavenging in the forests surrounding the village, hunting or begging for food in nearby settlements. In fact, people can survive for a surprisingly long time without nourishment, although their health will suffer terribly.

All that said, if a personís level of nutrition falls below a certain threshold, they will have a high chance of dying of starvation. This chance is largely dependent on their health: healthier people are more able to suffer through hardships and fend for themselves. Note that the season also plays a role. Winter starvations are more likely to kill more people than spring or summer ones. The total number of people who die will depend on how healthy your people are and how short of food the village runs, but it is likely to be between half and a third of the population.

Avoiding starvation

The best thing to do about starvation is to avoid it completely! During times of plenty thatís very easy to do - starvation wonít even be close to your thoughts. However, if you have failed to plan ahead and harsh weather strikes, possibly combined with adverse events or orders from the governor to supply more taxes, things can get difficult.

The best thing to do if you sense starvation approaching is to ration your supplies by lowering the villagersí consumption rate. Depending on how far you need to lower it, this will cause some starvation amongst the people, especially those who are old and weak. However, this is a much better option than mass starvation across the whole population. Another tactic is to sell any more expensive food stores you have (such as rice or grain) and use the money to buy cheaper stores (such as millet). Your people will not be as happy eating this cheaper foodstuff, but again, itís a far better option than starving!

Of course, the other thing to do is to work hard to optimise your food crops, and avoid growing cash crops in times of hardship. One common mistake that often leads to starvation, even in times of plenty, is growing cash crops and hording them, waiting for a better price, while your food stores dwindle. Always remember to keep selling at least a portion of your cash crops, even if the price isnít right, so you can buy the food your villagers need.

Bouncing back

Although starvation in the village is a catastrophic event, it does not necessarily mean that you should retire. It is possible to bounce back and make the village even stronger and more prosperous than before. The population may continue to dwindle for a while, as people commit suicide due to the loss of loved ones or leave the village, but this will stop as prosperity increases again. You may even then get more people emigrating into the village, sensing the opportunity that awaits.

You have two main advantages when coming back from starvation:

The main thing to concentrate on immediately after starvation is growing plenty of food and getting the population well fed and happy. There is likely to be a spate of marriages in the village, as people left widowed re-marry, followed by a population boom. The danger here is that you will then have a lot of children to feed with a relatively small population, but with careful planning and crop optimisation, this should not be a problem.