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
- 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
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
- 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%
- 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
- 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