ScottHannah HOW CAN WE COMBAT THE WEAK AGRICULTURAL SECTOR IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES AND THE PROBLEMS IT CAUSES?
FOR EXAMPLE, IN MANY AFRICAN COUNTRIES THERE ISLITTLE SUPPORT FROM NATIONAL GOVERNMENTS FORSMALL FARMERS. THERE IS NO MONEY.
MORE SPECIFICALLY, IN COUNTRIES INCLUDINGETHIOPIA, GOVERNMENTS ARE ACTUALLY SELLING MASSIVE SWATHESOF LAND TO MULTNATIONAL CORPORATIONS, AT THE DETRIMENT OF
In the Gambela province of Ethiopia, the localgovernment has sold off massive swathes of land (someindividual ‘farms’ as big as Wales) to massive companiesbased in countries as far away as India and Argentina.The land was given away without any thought to thelocals, whose ancestors have lived there for hundreds andin some cases even thousands of years.The land was burnt as a quick method of deforestation,and is being intensively farmed using old and cheapmachinery.This quick mechanisation has not provided employmentfor the misplaced locals, and where it has it pays them atless than $1 a day, well below the World Bank’s idea of‘severely poor’.
This kind of ‘development’ by African governments is notsustainable and is not the solution to national poverty.Furthermore, the rapid mechanisation and use of oldmachinery is not the right way for the third world todevelop. If they do, they will end up with the sameproblems as we have now.The governments of more developed countries mustinvest in sustainable development for these countries, inorder to reap the benefits of a stronger African economyand more food security for the world’s burgeoningpopulation.Any solution must be fair to the local/indigenouspopulation and benefit the environment as much aspeople.
Our solution to this problem is not a massive governmentinitiative which will nationalise the farms or gift them tomultinational corporations, but a modern and sustainableimage to improve the environment and the lives of the peoplethat live there.It is essentially a union of local farms, and a framework inwhich they can communicate and share knowledge, co-educate and improve the sustainability and efficiency of theirland.The idea is to give them access to the internet through aspecially designed product, which will work in the remote,rural areas in which they live and will be understandable tothe farmers, who will not be accustomed to moderntechnology.The product shown on the right will connect to the internetvia satellite, and charge using a solar-powered battery pack.It will connect the farmers to each other, allowing them tonegotiate and share ideas, teaching each other efficienttechniques such as crop rotation. However, it will also providea connection to the wider world, allowing farmers to barterand trade their produce with traders from around the world.
The products will be given to the farmers free of charge, and thefarmers will be educated on how to use them. They will functionin the farmers’ native language and incorporate connections tointerpreters and translators, so as to encourage inter-regionaland international trade.The basis of the idea is that it will provide a forum for famers tocommunicate with each other and band together in the face ofthreats, such as climatic problems or the threat of unfairgovernments or global companies. It is essentially the idea ofstrength in numbers‘ ’.
But who will pay for such an expensive initiative?Many African countries are in debt to the developed world.These loans were taken out in the 1970s in the face ofextreme poverty and unstable governments in the wake ofdecolonisation.If Western countries agreed to wipe off these loans in returnfor investment in the agricultural sector, everybody wouldreap the rewards in the future.If there were stronger economies in Africa which couldparticipate in the international market, there would be moretrade partners for countries such as the UK.Furthermore, with all predictions pointing towardsworld food shortages in the future, the world needs toput the massive landmass of Africa to good andefficient use.There needs to be sustainable development.