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POLI 3311 Lecture Notes - Organic Farming, Intensive Farming, Malaria

Political Science
Course Code
POLI 3311
Peter Arthur

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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
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
-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
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