Author Topic: Malawi, where they said 'no' to neo-con policy  (Read 2439 times)

fern hill

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Malawi, where they said 'no' to neo-con policy
« on: October 14, 2007, 12:14:32 PM »
I read this in the dead-tree version of the Globe the other day and was amazed they published  it. Link.


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The key question is, What happened? How did Malawi go from famine-plagued to food exporter?

While steady rains have undoubtedly helped, that's not the whole answer. Over the past couple of years, Malawi has broken with an orthodoxy long advocated by Canada and other Western donor nations: The impoverished country has gone back to subsidizing poor farmers. Condemned by donors as an impediment to the development of a sustainable agricultural sector, the subsidies have been a raging success.

“What is different [this year] is the access to inputs,” explained Patrick Kabambe, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security. “People are so poor they use recycled seed and no fertilizer. They can't meet their needs that way and they grow no surplus. People sink deeper and deeper into poverty. It's a vicious cycle. We had to do something.”

Starting in 2006, and on a larger scale this year, the government distributed coupons to low-income farmers to allow them to purchase 50-kilogram sacks of fertilizer for 950 kwacha ($7) rather than the market price of 4,500 kwacha. As a result, the average farmer's yield jumped to two tonnes a hectare from 800 kilograms.

The fertilizer subsidy cost the government $62-million – 6.5 per cent of the total government budget, a “whack of cash” in the words of one top economist – but that pales in comparison to the $120-million the government spent importing food aid in the 2005 famine. And the sale of maize to Zimbabwe and other countries will inject an additional $120-million into the national economy, a sizable figure here.


This makes me happy.

GDKitty

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Malawi, where they said 'no' to neo-con policy
« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2007, 02:13:34 AM »
Thanks for that, fh. I've bookmarked that for poss. future use!

skdadl

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Malawi, where they said 'no' to neo-con policy
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2007, 06:47:28 AM »
Stephanie Nolen is good -- the G&M foreign-affairs reporters have often been very good, very independent. No, Christie Blatchford isn't really a foreign-affairs reporter.  :wink:

Wonderful to see the World Bank fellow sputter away in frustration.

fern hill

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Malawi, where they said 'no' to neo-con policy
« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2007, 07:34:43 AM »
More from the New York Times about a report from the World Bank itself on how it fucked up on African agriculture.


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The World Bank, financed by rich nations to reduce poverty in poor ones, has long neglected agriculture in impoverished sub-Saharan Africa, where most people depend on the farm economy for their livelihoods, according to a new internal evaluation.

The evaluation was posted late last week on the bank’s Web site at a delicate moment.

The bank president, Robert B. Zoellick, after 100 days in office, declared in a recent speech that a Green Revolution for Africa was among his top priorities. On Friday, as ministers from around the world gather for the bank’s annual meeting in Washington, it will release its flagship World Development Report, this year devoted to agriculture.


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Two poverty analysts who often disagree — Professors Jeffery D. Sachs of Columbia University and William Easterly of New York University — read the evaluation and found it withering.

Professor Sachs called the evaluation “a blistering, devastating critique.” Professor Easterly, a research economist at the bank for more than a decade, likened the evaluation to saying Coca-Cola is bad at making its signature soft drink. “Here’s your most important client, Africa, with its most important sector, agriculture, relevant to the most important goal — people feeding their families — and the bank has been caught with two decades of neglect,” he said.


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Looking ahead, she said, the bank is now working with African countries “that have increasingly begun to realize that agriculture has to have pride of place in public expenditures.”

GDKitty

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Malawi, where they said 'no' to neo-con policy
« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2007, 04:00:08 AM »
"The Right to Food Means Freedom from Dogma", by Frances Moore Lappé and Anna Lappé.
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From Malawi’s now-flourishing maize farmers to Brazil’s successful new farm communities, millions are shedding primitive marketism; they see both government and the market as tools through which to realize basic human values. They’ve experienced the fallacy that an “unfettered” market — what Ronald Reagan called “the magic of the market” — will meet their basic human needs.

The authors cite examples from Malawi (as fern hill linked/discussed above), as well as from India, Indonesia, Lebanon, and Brazil.

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Around the world, millions are shedding the shackles of market fundamentalism to embrace real hunger-fighting solutions.

 

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