Thursday, March 17, 2011

Big Bag of African Agriculture

Fair trade coffee in Uganda, which liberalized coffee export in the 1990s: Prices remained low initially, leading to reduced supply and quality. Organizers of a free trade initiative with 7500-15000 farmers claim that they have known how to produce high quality coffee but haven’t had incentives. The price premium is roughly 25% plus investment in community public goods.

Also in Uganda: mud quarries. “what we get is a fascinating portrait of a village doing the best it can with an informal land system, yet obviously still in need of some sort of formality.” The mud is a valuable building material locally.

South Africa plans that agroprocessers will add 500k jobs over the next ten years and are providing capitalization funds. The funds are coming from the court payments required of Pioneer Foods for collusion and price-fixing. The government also hopes to increase the number of smallholder farmers from 200k to 250k by providing training and extension services. Employment in agriculture and agroprocessing has been declining.

Zambia’s president is not predicting turmoil from the north spilling in, crediting good multiparty elections for his confidence.

Learning African English via Wikipedia

FAO estimates that if rural women had equal access to land, technology, financial services, education, and markets , agricultural production could increase enough to feed an additional 100-150 million people, 12-17 percent of the world’s total. Diouf has called for equality as a means to “win, sustainably, the fight against hunger and extreme poverty.” Again, the question is if we pursue equality as a right, or because it is morally right, or because it pays us to do so.

On the infrastructure constraints in African agriculture:
Statistics indicate that only 34% of sub-Saharan Africa’s rural population lives within two kilometers of a paved road. In most of Africa, poor road infrastructure accounts for investors deciding to look elsewhere. “Every fifth African needs at least five hours to get to the nearest market….” Beavogui says.
Reasons to be optimistic about Africa, video below the fold. Among the interesting points he makes is that vehicle operating costs in Africa are no higher than in price, but the prices to put goods on ships are the highest in the world. Only 1% of the money allocating for non-wage health support actually gets where it was intended. Yes, this is why he is optimistic. It means that there are obvious problems that can be readily solved. As a result, implementing some simple remedies reduced Rwandan child mortality by 33%.

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