Thursday, July 31, 2014
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An African Horn of Plenty

ROME – After six months and the deaths of tens of thousands of people, the famine in Somalia – caused by the worst drought in 60 years – is over. But a wider crisis in Africa continues.

In the Horn of Africa – Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, and Sudan – some 14.6 million children, women, and men remain without enough food. While to the west, in the Sahel countries of Niger, Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Mauritania, another 14 million are threatened.

Even worse, there is a high risk in Somalia that famine will recur unless coordinated, long-term action is taken. We cannot avoid droughts, but we can try to prevent them from becoming famines.

In just over a decade, the Horn of Africa has suffered three droughts, followed by severe crises. Each time, the international community agreed that long-term measures were needed to prevent another tragedy. But each time, when the rains finally came, the world’s good intentions melted away.

We must ensure that this does not happen again by joining forces now to banish hunger from the region once and for all. Not to do so would be doubly tragic, because the loss of life and human suffering would be entirely needless: as the end of the Somali famine shows, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and its partners have started to make a difference.

The World Food Program, UNICEF, FAO, and international NGOs now have emergency response programs that are based not solely on food and input hand-outs, as in the past, but also on cash-for-work and food-voucher schemes. These allow families to buy food locally, enabling them to remain near their homes, while also stimulating economic recovery and rehabilitating the local infrastructure needed for agriculture and livestock production.

These agencies’ methods help people who need food urgently, but they also help them to improve their livelihoods and build resilience to surmount future crises. For example, farmers in Somalia’s Bay and Shabelle regions took advantage of the recent rains and the aid provided by the FAO and other agencies to double their production of maize and sorghum and bring in their largest harvest in years.

The world community must continue to implement such approaches if it wishes to contain and prevent further crises. Even at the height of the famine, some Somali farmers were successfully growing and selling their crops. This was possible because, before the crisis, FAO had used cash-for-work programs to help them to rebuild the local irrigation system and make high-quality, high-yield seeds available.

But producing food is not enough. Poor farmers can grow bumper crops, but unless there are roads on which to transport their produce, and a market where they can sell it, they will remain poor and vulnerable. And, obviously, if no one has the money to purchase what they produce, their efforts will be wasted. That is why it is critical to stimulate both local supply and demand.

Injecting cash into local economies can help them flourish. But people in rural communities need much else as well in order to live productive and fulfilling lives: basic social safety nets, schools, health services, effective risk-management systems, and personal security.

The FAO is renewing its commitment to a hunger-free Africa. But this goal is obviously beyond the capacity of any international organization or government working alone. Achieving this objective will require partnership among governments, regional bodies, civil-society organizations, and the private sector.

Linking emergency assistance with long-term measures can offer a way out of protracted crisis and onto a path of sustainable development. By stepping up current efforts, agriculture can also become a key factor in establishing peace and stability the Horn of Africa – essential conditions for growth and prosperity there.

Droughts are not preventable. But hunger and famine are. It is unthinkable for the international community to allow them to persist.

This column was produced within the framework of the EC-funded “V4Aid” project. The views expressed do not necessarily represent the view of the EU.

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  1. CommentedJonathan Lam

    Gamesmith94134: Climate-Smart Smallholders
    Since Rwanda’s recent experience provides a beacon of hope that increased agricultural output and environmental protection can go hand-in-hand; and in the country’s south-western Ngororero District project backed by the International Fund for Agricultural Development has helped Rwandan farmers to increase crop yields by up to 300%; then it is best advertisement for investment for private and public funds.
    In term of redistribution of wealth, the nature has its way in balancing itself after the effects of the extremes. For the years of our abusive monetarism, US lost its competitiveness to China because it has maximized its effectiveness to trade; after the developed nations ran amok with its credits. For much of the international financial transaction summed to 600 trillion a year, in assumption, US ran at 20% and due to the shrinkage on 3% growth. It is about 120 trillion normally. Due to the unsettled EU debts, the cash flow is running at 95% even though DJ jumped to 13000, some of its investment went south or the emerging markets. Then the South nations may grow rapidly at 7% in 2012, and the labors can grow 10-15% if productivity proven to be positive even under the shadow of the Middle East oil Crisis.
    Eventually, the 120 trillion by US will cut as well; it is why the FED is suggesting the EQ3 on liquidity. I am not sure how firm the dollar is to other currencies at present 76; but if it is running under the nominal capacity. The trend interacted with the aftermath of the EU crisis. It will extend for seven years or till another resolution is available. In between, inflation will hit the developed nations as well since the emerging market may give in the rise for cost after the boom. Then, the import/export of US will reverse itself afterward back to square one of another cycle.
    If national policies and international development initiatives support the transition to climate-smart agriculture in these ways, we have no doubt that smallholder everywhere will step up and do their part to help save the planet. Moreover, there more funds are available to the South Hemisphere like Africa or South America; if these investors are convinced that the North, as the EU crisis will continue and American economy is deteriorating from the high rise of cost and low interest rates.
    Why not FAO or UA think big like the movie like: Salmon fishing in Yemen?
    I paid $42 for Disneyland I never been, is there a Cocoa farm in Cote d’lvoire with less of child labor I can invest in? Or, is there a rice plantation in Ghana available? These are the answers to urbanization of Africa that in creation of the theme farm village turns to township with a mill and a better build in transportation. Perhaps, these climate-smart smallholders can turn them into shareholder of the local innovated government bonds to the corporation of Africa.
    The lesson is simple: identify the climate-smart farming practices and techniques led by the NGO office and Development Banks or AU; that can boost agricultural production, with the cooperation of the Nations to affirm the policy and functionary to procure it policy and financial system. African Nations need the private investment and create a policy environment that enables the utility of human labor resources and local innovations to start working on a theme or a formula to lure its investors. Without foreign investors from other nations, the resources of just by African Nations are limited to growth. This is the moment the African Nations can stand on its own human resources to grow.
    “In receiving alms, you may lose an arm.” Why climate-Smart Small holder? They can be a share-holder of its theme farm cooperation after IPO. Dream on it and don’t sleep on it. Time limited.
    May the Buddha bless you?

  2. CommentedJonathan Lam

    Gamesmith94134: why fair trade?

    After the effects of “barbed-wire barriers to imports” suggested by the businessmen and union members in US or the developed nations, they should understand the nature of their present financial crisis that they lost their competitiveness by a wide margin in the global term, and eliminate the choice for its people from affordability to growth because monopoly can level off its local innovation as well. Why can’t its industries be more effective or efficient to cut cost or lower price even after they met their competitions?
    Recently in China, I saw the railways imported from US, built in China in the 20s, they are still running. It was the top of technology for US, and we have the football team name Pittsburg Steelers----one of my favorite team. When the piece of the Oakland Bridge cracked, we must import it from China since we lost our competitiveness and effectiveness to pricing to the steel industry to China. Pittsburg Steelers turned into an icon for American Football and industry of its own, Subsequently, the township and its steel worker union had made the bureaucrats proud of the steel industry that even Americans cannot afford; but, they can complain the economists outsourcing the industries for profitability. I am not prudential in protectionism since I am not sure why people do not throw stone inside the glass house; but the greenhouse effect for labor is costly, and the consequence of protectionism is anemic to growth in all terms of all imports or exports due to the loss of local innovations or the profitability under the labor cost that industries compete both fair and unfair competitions including anti-dumping or tariffs.
    In the recent years after we reckon the deficits wrecked the developed nations, and the surpluses prospers the emerging market nations. Many suggested the zero sum fair trade that many developed nations are dumping their technologies like green industries with high prices to the emerging nations in order to create its equilibrium; however, the resistance is high since its benefits to its consumers are minimal. Therefore, I would expect the bases of its consumers must be expanded first that the low-earning labors in these nations must achieve its sustainable living standard to be benefited to the technology transfers; then, the level of consumerism should meet its need in order to create the chain reaction of the supply and demand. Perhaps, they also need education to gain control systematically through the structural developments based on the foundation of necessity and affordability. Otherwise, the ClubMed syndrome will repeat to spread throughout the emerging market nations too; and, it was how the PIIGS got affected since 92’ that tourism did not help them to produce much to the bases of consumers, instead, they were subdued by the corruption and deficits as well.
    “Mark Sidwell argues that FAIRTRADE keeps uncompetitive farmers on the land, holding back diversification and mechanization. According to Sidwell, the FAIRTRADE scheme turns developing countries into low-profit, labor-intensive agrarian ghettos, denying future generations the chance of a better life.”
    In assuring the outcome of the FAIRTRADE can be the coming generation, we must develop the appropriate system or superstructure for monitoring the process in opening the commodity markets for those developing countries. Perhaps, in order to stretch the safety net for the poor farmers or labor, I think the organizing the groups in common interest may use the cooperative system that the group of small farmers can bundle up in their corps or commodities to set their corporation to market their goods. However, I would recommend the Development Bank of the United Nations as the free agent for Fair Trade which these developments can be invested in the open markets, and the organized grower or producers can grow into corporations with co-operatives; since some of the developments may have involved with international financial system and assisted in the market system during the transactions. Also, there must be a representative for the grower and producer like Africa Union, ASEAN or EU to represent and ensure the normalcy of its productivity and transparency on the transaction of these commodities.
    “That justification will not convince economists, who prefer a dryer sort of reasoning. But it is not out of place to remind ourselves that economists and bureaucrats need not always have things their own way.”
    Finally, if we must open the bases for new consumers, we must give the poor farmer and labors a chance to taste the FAIR TRADE and move away from poverty, we must stop the monopoly and give free trade a chance; then these new consumers can save us from the present financial crisis. If we accept the fact that we do need to trade honestly and share generously among nations and countries of people; there must be a system to protect the coming generation of grower and producer and a superstructure of networks to assure everyone is applying at will.
    May the Buddha bless you?

  3. CommentedJonathan Lam

    Gamesmith94134: Why Development Aid is Not Enough

    Erick Solheim is right on the development aid is not enough, because the system does not give a proper redistribution of the wealth to the poor; instead, it created the sovereignty debts for the developer nations since there is not an appropriate system to support or police the developments. It is because the ones control the funds are not subject to the necessity with lesser control in term of supply and demand, so whatever the outcome of the project is being manipulated my its participants, of the ruling class like brokers, manufacturers and financiers. Besides, they are to the projects based on profitability and control, whatever how fruitful the outcome of the project are. Profits are goes to the ruling class and never the entrepreneurs or its producers since they turned into labor by class by the ruling parties after the goods are subsidized by its government and price are controlled by the medium like future market systems or manufacturers.
    Perhaps, it sounds like I am anti-market system or free trade, but throughout my years of observation through the transition of the past to present. I am seriously considering the system is at fault since the polarization of the up-rising of the labor classes or the poor and no-solution ruling class. And, I opposed the Millennium Development Goals because it does not have a proper system in maintaining the progress and misses the goal by proportion.

    In example of story I heard of, the grain production in China, farmer got only 20% of the sack of wheat, the rest went to the processors or the mill, and the marketing. Does it really farmer’s four months works is lesser than a five minute phone call? Or the processor can give a better price to the public under the price control means the lower pay for farmers, the public may be subsidized under automation, or the farmer should be compensate more when he market his grain.

    There is another story on the bullet train as the infrastructure developed in California, USA. It was cancelled because the cost of it went up three times as estimated; after its funds was diverged to projects for traffic congestion instead of buying lands that needed to build its train. I do not blame those refuse to sell the land at the lower price, but I cursed at those prospectors buying the land to sell---- developers with close tie to its friends on the projects.

    • Do people learn anything from the ClubMed incident? From boom to doom, it is all delusions; just because the project is lack of control and prospectors are those control the progress; and the wealth does not trickle down as it thought but the middle man made it fortune with its alliance with the ruling class.

    • “Since 2000, when the international community adopted the Millennium Declaration and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)”. Again, I question on the international community by G-20; are they work for the brokerage or the labors? And how they market their goals? I like it better if they can be inclusive to the zones of the development and monitored by the local or market system that the development can appeal it case, not brokers.

    • “Power has also shifted in the global political arena, with the global financial crisis catalyzing the emergence of the G-20”, why just 20 and not all of world takes like the United Nations with full members of it working together to avoid manipulation of the prospectors. I think the farmer should know how much he deserves in the deal then he can compete on the market of the world, not to its processors or mills.

    Finally, development aid is not enough indicates the lesser profit most of the needed can get; and its aid turned into subsidies for its government or prospectors for its dealing and wheeling. It certainly needs a neutral zone for the needed to compete in our present market system among its brokerage and government. Therefore, corrupted or collapsed will be evaluated by the real communities of the Zone; not to the financier or the ones who signed in the projects. There must be a resolution comes from the United Nations Security council that can stop the hegemony from ruining the global economy by manipulating and misrepresenting the world in lesser of the global totality.

    Sorry! G-20, the cook does not get his best meal, and the waiter serves only its customers; and Gourmet Restaurant gave the tasteful on a few only, McDonald provides most with a full stomach for lesser price. Development aid can never be enough if it serves only a few by proportions.

    May the Buddha bless you?

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