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GSR Special Series #1 - A Tale of Two Cedis (Part Six)

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An Allegorical series of blogs that covers a range of topics from international currencies to rural development in an engaging free flowing manner.

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GSR Special Series #1 - A Tale of Two Cedis (Part Six)

  1. 1. GSR Blog Special Series #1: A Tale of Two CedisPart Six – Everyone Loves an Underdog[As you may remember from previous episodes, the twoheroic cedis (a cedi is the currency of Ghana (pronounced“cee-dee”) were looking to go out into the world to seektheir fortune. They first thought of going to China, where so manycedis before them ended up, but none of these cedis had everreturned (since China sold manufactured goods with higher valuethan the raw materials it purchased from Ghana) They also decidedthat jumping into a development project funded by an IGO would be a waste of time, sincethey had seen so many projects, but none of them brought any improvement to the localeconomy. Finally, a wise 10 pesewa coin explained to them the benefits of local self reliantdevelopment. This “African solution for African problems” appealed to the cedis and theylistened carefully to the 10 pesewa coin.]An ugly old one pesewa coin had been sitting quietly with them in Lili’s pocket. He was ascarred veteran. He had seen a lot of bad harvests and inadequate meals. Suddenly, hespoke out, “You are crazy, Cedi boy! Do you think that you can beat the system? You arefacing the boys with the big money running the big plantations. They have the odds stackedin their favor to win. You are like the village soccer team challenging the Ghana nationalteam – the Black Stars. You can never win. Just tell Lili to stay in her village and be happywith a half bowl of cassava:One of the cedis stood up and protested strongly, “Whenever there is a sports match-upwhere one team is considered superior to the other, almost everyone is rooting for theunderdog. Even staunch supporters of the superior team are excited to see the little guyswin.”
  2. 2. The one pesewa coin frowned a big round frown. “More than enthusiasm is needed to winthis game, you know? There are some real stumbling blocks here. The problems facingvillages today are enormous. At present, smallholder farmers in rural Africa have not beenable to compete with large scale plantations, as they are generally undercapitalized andcannot afford pricy inputs such as fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides.Moreover, they have been unable to take advantage of economies of scale in warehousing,mechanization, marketing, and transport. As a result, they have not benefited from thecurrent strong global commerce and instead have been consigned to subsistence farming.Smallholder farmers often have to use substandard land, usually without the benefit ofirrigation and low agricultural inputs. In fact, while their income has remained stagnant,their cost of living has steadily risen. Smallholder farmers are facing ever increasing levelsof impoverishment—even as demand for their produce grows locally and globally. “You know what, cedis, maybe the best thing for you to do would be to forget thesmallholder farmers and work on one of the big plantations.”“In the long run that would actually make things worse, “ the 10 pesewa statedemphatically. “This would result in the greatest increases in agro production but woulddestabilize rural communities, stunt rural economic growth, exacerbate incomediscrepancies between the wealthy and the poor, and ultimately would be unsustainableand damage the soil irreparably. The challenge to increase Africa’s agricultural productioncan be met most sustainably, and with greatest widespread economic boost, by theeffective transformation of the small farm sector.”The 10 pesewa coin said quietly, yet firmly, ‘Its more than that my friend. The smallfarmers can win. They may look like underdog, but GSR gives the small farmers somepowerful advantages.”

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