Friday, December 23, 2011

Agriculture repeats itself

Chapter 10 of my textbook on Food Policy for Developing Countries discusses nanotechnology and the fact that companies have a vested interest in ensuring that nanotech does not become the next great consumer scare. To do that, they need to make sure there is public debate, address consumer concerns early on, openly, forthrightly, and without condescension. Governments have an important role to play also in clarifying up front what standards will be required. Having a clear regulatory framework will encourage companies to invest and make it easier for them to demonstrate openly that their products meet safety standards. Here is M. Nestle agreeing on the scope of the problem and supplying some new reports on the subject.

There is a hefty debate brewing on which framework should be used to debate international agricultural policies. Doha is going nowhere slowly. At COP17 African countries had been reasonably unified, but are less so now that South Africa is calling for a greater environmental focus, with Ghana, Mali, and Tanzania prominent on the other side of the debate. One of the better arguments in the article:
Harjeet Singh of ActionAid International said that farmers with fewer than two hectares would only be able to make $3 a year at the present rate for carbon. He said he did not doubt the intentions of South Africa in "pushing for climate-smart agriculture as the answer to agriculture's problems" but added that "climate-smart agriculture could benefit South Africa a lot because your farmers are large-scale and carbon markets work for agriculture on the industrial scale".
Cote d'Ivoire has announced the (re?)formation of a state cocoa board that will take over most of the higher level market functions. The article seems to be written from a Ghanaian-centric viewpoint, worrying about how the CdI board will be able to compete with Ghana's and the likely impact on world prices [which will be lower, duh, because the civil war kept cocoa production and sales much lower].

And for variety, here is an interview with a Zimbabwean crocodile farmer. He has 10,000 crocs at a time, which he exports to Europe and Asia to sell their skins and meat. Among his major costs are importing the beasts to feed the crocs and trying to get enough eggs to keep the project at that size.

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