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POLI 3311 (5)

Food Production/Food Security

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Dalhousie University
Political Science
POLI 3311
Peter Arthur

Wednesday, October 5, 2011 Agriculture, Food Production, Food Security and the Crisis of Rural Society Myth: Food problem is about redistribution, not production. Technical solutions vs. policies (government intervention) Direct Government Intervention in cash crops - export market - Case: African government seeks to increase farm production - Employ prices to strengthen production incentives. Do they: - By lowing prices of inputs or raising price of products - either way it hurts the famers - Alter markets, reduce market competition and invest in poorly conceived agricultural products (prison farms, youth leagues) Intervention promotes inefficiency Ex. Uganda, Cotton Price Assistance Fund: meant to stabilize projects but went to a dam project Distribution and production are opposed, as if we had to do either/or - world population is growing, more food production is needed Myth: Industrial agriculture is less productive than its traditional alternatives - No proof of higher productivity? - Dependent on mechanization and chemical fertilization Myths: - Organic farming leaves soil healthier - Organic foods superior - Smallholders should grow crops for their own families and villages direct consumption ______________________________________________________________________ Canadians in agriculture: 2-5% Robert Bates: - Main argument: Why do governments intervene in the agricultural sector? - In their own interest: raises money through marketing boards (unpopular - sole buyer for commodities, then sell for a profit on the world market) - Governments intervene in their own self-interest - Rational choice perspective: based on self-interest, cost-benefit analysis, gains/losses, alternatives - then maximize your utility (to maintain power) - Governments intervene by: lower prices for agricultural commodities Wednesday, October 5, 2011 - Prices of food products low in urban areas, prices of mechanized equipment low; government intervention is mainly preserving themselves in power - appease the urban elites at the cost of the rural poor Bates: Governments need to be more market friendly. How accurate is Bates in explaining food insecurity? - Does not take into account the international market - Ex. Doha - began in 2001; come to nothing because of BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China), African cotton producers - Believes African governments have the leeway to do what they want; in reality they don’t - Public/private - Marketing boards seen as taxing devices; is this the case? Ex. Ghana - CMB (Cocoa Marketing Board Scholarship); while there is criticism, some money goes back into the community to support people who otherwise would not be able to afford education. - Erroneous to assume marketing boards are taking awa
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