16 July 2008

Promoting Small Scale Farming in Africa

It costs about $77 in fertilizers and hybrid seed for a smallholder African farmer to produce an extra ton of maize, based on our research at the Millennium Villages. To bring in the same ton of maize into Africa as U.S. food aid costs $670, based on a Government Accountability Office report. __Biopact
That comparison is assuming that the particular African government that is hosting the African farmer gives him the freedom and stability to farm his land. Politically, Africa is a mess. Economically, Africa is well-poised to reap a mighty harvest of food and bioenergy, if the resource is developed wisely.

Small-scale farming is best for Africa, not huge plantations. China, India, and Europe would like to plunder Africa by building huge palm oil plantations. That type of development not only destroys wildlife habitat, but it also concentrates wealth in the hands of a few--exactly what Africa does not need more of.

It will be difficult for the US to stand back and watch Africa being plundered once again--by neo-colonialists such as China in collaboration with a corrupt African ruling class. But the US needs to focus its contribution to Africa on empowering small scale farming and local/regional enterprises--not on mega-projects that cannot possibly be sustained over the long run.

Finally, if China wants so badly to reap economic benefits from investments in Africa, it must shoulder some responsibility in taking the lead in promoting political stability and human rights in the dark continent. If China wants to be seen as a world leader, it is long past time for it to learn to behave like a responsible party, rather than as a kleptocratic plunderer of the third world--which is the image it is projecting in Sudan and elsewhere in the third world.

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share


Post a Comment

“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

<< Home

Newer Posts Older Posts