Daily Archives: November 6, 2011

World Food Day is No Food Day for a billion hungry people

Agriculture Rule #1: Cultivation of Marijuana pays well. Growing food does not…

by Peter Webster

October 16, 2011 designated as “World Food day” has come and gone – or has it?

For too many of the billion hungry people the world over, most days are “no food day”. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) promoted the theme “Food Prices – From Crisis to Stability” to highlight a worldwide trend that is “hurting the poor consumer, the small producer and agriculture in general” because “food prices which were stable for decades have become increasingly volatile”. They concluded that “controlling prices was key to the fight against hunger”.

FAO further lamented that “Agriculture cannot respond fast enough with increased food production because of long-term under-investment in research, technology, equipment and infrastructure”.

The statement by the FAO Director General, Dr. Jacques Diouf, leaves several unanswered questions:

Why did FAO emphasize the volatility or fluctuation of food prices and not the fact that the prices were higher although fluctuating? How do higher prices hurt producers and agriculture in general? Why does FAO concern itself with the hungry? Since when are the interests of food producers the same as those of consumers? Could the high price of energy be a contributing factor to high food prices? Why is there under-investment in agriculture?

It is unfortunate that the FAO statement does not distinguish between the food producers and distributors.

Promoting more investment in agriculture is like “pushing rope” since it deals with an effect and not the cause!

Food producers around the world have repeatedly increased their production when they are adequately rewarded for their investment. Our experience in Barbados supports this.

When our government in 1971 taxed all of the nasty profits out of our highly efficient sugar industry (over $50 million between 1974 and 1981) the result was dwindling capital investment in the industry with productivity falling by 50% from a high of over ten tonnes of sugar per hectare to the five tonnes per hectare currently being achieved.

Our people supposedly abhor agriculture but several are reputed to be cultivating marijuana in discreet nooks and crannies around the island despite the risk of imprisonment.

Why are they not growing sweet potatoes and yams? Could it be that cultivation of the latter is not lucrative enough?

We need to stop expecting the food producers to feed the poor and hungry – this is society’s responsibility not the food producers who are trying to earn a living! Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Agriculture, Barbados, Business & Banking, Consumer Issues, Human Rights