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Socio economic consequences of food price spikes

Will Martin's picture

High food prices, especially when they have increased suddenly and unexpectedly, have been found to hurt many poor people around the world. The Global Monitoring Report 2012: Food Prices, Nutrition, and the Millennium Development Goals (GMR) finds that the food price shock that peaked in early 2011 pushed nearly 50 million people into poverty. On one level, this is not surprising—the poorest people, after all, spend nearly all of their income on food. But on further reflection, this result is not so obvious— three quarters of the world’s poor are rural and the majority of them depend on farming for their livelihoods. The problem is that—unlike farmers in rich countries—many poor farmers in developing countries don’t produce enough food to meet their families’ needs. These net buyers of food are hurt by higher food prices even though they are farmers.

Kenya’s undisputed wheat basket

The sight of farmers around Narok drying wheat on the ground with agents haggling over price and quality is a reminder of how Kenya’s farmers take advantage of the plentiful sunshine to cut post-harvest costs. Makeshift canvas driers line both sides of the Maai Mahiu-Narok-Bomet highway, a section of the Northern Corridor transport system that creates a shorter link to western Kenya.

Narok is Kenya’s undisputed wheat basket, producing half of the national wheat output in any given year. Its lush wheat and maize (corn) farms, as well as livestock ranches dotted with thousands of cattle, sheep and goats, tell you why the over 2,000 farmers in this fertile region of the Rift Valley are so powerful. Moreover, it is gateway to the world famous Masai Mara game reserve, where wildlife riches and revenue, especially bountiful during this period of the famous wildebeest migration, are shared by the Narok and Trans-Mara county councils.

Indonesia: Bio-gas project keeps pig farm waste from going to waste

Nia Sarinastiti's picture

Pig farmers in Nias pull a 'waste disappearing act' by converting manure into useable energy.
At one of my trips to Nias, Indonesia, I discovered that a pig pen can actually be so clean without any spot of dirt or waste. It was something I have never imagined after seeing pig farms that have mud (of all kinds all) all over the place. You can imagine what it would look like, right?

The clean pig pen I saw was in the village of Tetehosi, Idanagawo sub-district owned by a farm group with the name Ternak Harapan Maju which means, “Farm Hopes to Progress.” The pen is managed by priest Sabar Markus Lase, not only because he knows about pig farming, but also because the pig pen is in the backyard of the church.

Leaving an imprint: Rebuilding the shrimp sector in Aceh, Indonesia

David Lawrence's picture

 

In my 12 years at the International Finance Corporation (IFC), I've been involved with a lot of different projects. Many of them were successful, some were not. But none of them were as satisfying as the Aceh Shrimp Project, which closed last month. If you've ever hit a bull's eye when playing darts, imagine that feeling multiplied by 100. That's what this project felt like.

Aceh is an autonomous province on the northern tip of Sumatra, in Indonesia, with a population of 4.2 million. It has a colorful history of resistance: they gave the Dutch colonists major headaches, and fought against the Indonesian government for three decades. In December 2004 the Tsunami struck, leaving 165,000 people dead or missing in the space of 30 minutes. This led to the biggest reconstruction effort in history, including IFC's work to build up the private sector, funded by AusAID (pdf) through its Australia-Indonesia Partnership for Reconstruction and Development (AIPRD).

Shrimp is a key sector in Aceh, a livelihood for 100,000 people. In the 1990s, Aceh's shrimp sector was slammed by white spot disease, which devastated shrimp harvests.{C}

Pacific Islands could benefit from cooperative approach to farming

Evelyn Ng's picture

One thing villages in Pacific Island countries can do is to organize the farmers to cultivate the land of participating farmers collectively, increasing manpower and thus improving productivity.
In some Pacific Island countries, such as Fiji, Solomon Islands, Samoa, and Vanuatu, land is fertile and suitable for growing a variety of tropical fruit, vegetable, and root crops. The majority of these populations rely on subsistence agriculture and fishing as their economic mainstay. In some islands, the women and children work the farm while the men fish for the day’s catch. In other islands, the men tend the farm while the women sell the surplus crops in nearby markets.

Land development for commercial agriculture is limited in most of these islands due to issues surrounding communal ownership of land. Take an example of a small farming village in the rural areas near the capital city of Fiji. This village consists of seventy households, of which sixty live below the national poverty line. The head of each household has the right to cultivate a portion of the communal land to feed his family.

Rice prices - Viewed from Vietnamese fields

Flore de Préneuf's picture

I just returned from the Mekong Delta – Vietnam’s “rice basket” – to look at the results of development projects partly financed by the World Bank. With rice prices going through the roof, I expected to see farmers enjoying a financial boom. But, reality was more nuanced and underscored how difficult it is to grow more rice at the drop of a bamboo hat.