Tag: agriculture

Helping small farmers get a better deal in Colombia

I’m on a panel at the Harvard Kennedy School tomorrow, pulling together some of the lessons from on the ground success in development programming. I’ve already posted on some of the stories, but here’s an interesting one from Colombia, where small scale farmers find it hard to sell into urban areas at a decent price. […]

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Is the spread of supermarkets in poor countries good news or bad?

Supermarkets are not just a northern phenomenon, but are spreading fast across the developing world. Some of them arrive from outside, like the giant Tescos outside my hotel on a recent visit to Korea; others are homegrown. Either way, they are having a big impact on the lives and prospects of farmers, large and small. […]

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Bad aid to agriculture: lessons from West Africa

After decades of decline, aid to agriculture has started to rise in the last few years in response to a renewed understanding of the role of agriculture in triggering growth and reducing poverty (see previous blog). But some recent research from 3 countries in West Africa (Niger, Burkina Faso and Ghana) suggests that quality is […]

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Millions Fed: 20 case studies of agricultural success

‘In the late 1950s around a billion people—about one-third of the world’s population—were estimated to go hungry every day. Famines were threatening millions in Asia and Africa in particular, and prospects for feeding the world’s booming population looked bleak. In response to this alarming picture, scientists, policymakers, farmers, and concerned individuals initiated a concerted push […]

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Ha-Joon Chang uncovers what's worked in the history of agricultural policy

I vividly remember the impact of Ha-Joon Chang’s 2002 book ‘Kicking Away the Ladder’. At the time I was an NGO lobbyist on the WTO’s Doha round of trade talks, and Ha-Joon’s book showed how when they were still poor, today’s rich countries had systematically used the industrial policies and other forms of state management […]

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Which governments are best/worst at ending hunger?

League tables are a powerful weapon in the armoury of NGO advocacy. Politicians in the country that ends up in the top slot feel like they are getting some fleeting recognition for their efforts, while those at the bottom are annoyed and hopefully prodded into action. Newspapers love them too as they reduce a complex […]

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A good new update on land grabs

Two very good summaries of the state of play on the spate of ‘land grabs’ which came to prominence last year with Daewoo’s attempts to acquire half of Madagascar (for free) on a 99 year lease (see previous overview and Daewoo blogs ). A July paper from the International Land Coalition argues that the problem […]

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What has climate change done to the seasons?

Yesterday, Oxfam published Suffering the Science, a powerful synthesis of the science and the human havoc that climate change is already wreaking. The thing that caught my eye was ‘What Happened to the Seasons?’, an input paper by my colleagues Steve Jennings and John Magrath bringing together evidence from 15 countries on how seasons are […]

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Plant clinics – or why sometimes development looks easy and obvious

Bumped into an ‘agricultural anthropologist’, Jeff Bentley, who works in Cochabamba, Bolivia and was intrigued by his work promoting ‘plant clinics’, where farmers bring in examples of sick plants and get a diagnosis and prescription in a system modelled on human healthcare (they even have a two tier structure of General Practitioners as first point […]

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What's different about the current spate of land grabs in poor countries?

This week’s Economist has an excellent overview of the issues surrounding what it calls ‘outsourcing’s third wave’ (the first two were manufacturing and services) – deals in which foreign investors are buying up huge tracts of land in poor countries to produce food to ship back home (see map). Some highlights: Saudi investors are spending $100m […]

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G8 sees rising hunger as a threat to global stability

A significant new addition to the growing chorus of voices expressing concern on hunger and food prices. The food crisis has not gone away since last year, even if the general economic meltdown has driven it from the headlines. World Bank officials have been warning that plantings may be down this year; the FAO has […]

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It's Doha déjà vu (all over again)

Back in April, I spoke at a workshop on the WTO’s Doha round of trade negotiations where the EU negotiator Peter Mandelson got a laugh by saying ‘we have six weeks to get a deal… and I really mean it this time.’ Three months on, Mandelson will doubtless really mean it again, along with about […]

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