At a recent AERC research workshop in Nairobi, I made a comment about African governments’ not spending enough money on public goods, and spending too much on private goods such as fertilizers. The comment seemed to have struck a nerve. Several people in the audience pointed out that, in Malawi, fertilizer subsidies have increased cereal production, so government spending on fertilizers was not such a bad thing. Going beyond the general arguments that these fertilizer subsidies often don’t reach farmers (they’re
Agriculture and Rural Development
I gave the Jerome A.Chazen lecture at Columbia Business School the other day. The gist of my talk was that:
There is widespread consensus that financial development is critical to economic growth, globally, and in Africa. Yet Mozambique, a country with very low levels of financial development (in a recent survey, only 13 percent of firms had obtained credit from the banking sector, rural credit is almost nonexistent), registered a GDP growth rate of over 8 percent a year over the last decade.
|A rice seller in one of Cambodia's markets. The price of rice, a staple food for Cambodians, has doubled between July 2007 and July 2008.|
The simple reaction is that higher price of food is bad for the poor. CDRI is able to confirm some of this by tracking prices (the price of rice doubled between July 2007 and July 2008) and reminding us that food accounts for two thirds of consumption for a poor family. And there will be little substitution effect to other goods (even within food, most of the caloric intake comes from rice, also very difficult to replace–although CDRI shows that Cambodians in part shifted to lower quality rice to make up for the higher price).
Among the visitors to 2008 Global Development Marketplace: Sustainable Agriculture for Development today was World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick.
Twenty-two project winners collected their crystal awards and grant checks in the 2008 Global Development Marketplace: Sustainable Agriculture for Development competition this morning.
Among the 22 winning projects in the DM2008 competition was Agricultural Cooperatives for Biodiversity Conservation in Cambodia, and collecting the award were Enterprise Planner Adviser Karen Nielsen and Technical Adviser Tom Clements (in photo).
"W'e're quite excited about having our project recognized as one of the more innovative ones," said Nielsen, clutching her team's award.
Under the project, "Wildlife-friendly" products grown in conservation-protected areas in Cambodia will be marketed nationally, including at tourism centers, by cooperatives in 10 villages.
Subhas Managuli made it to the finalists' circle, buthis Best Practices Foundation proposal to improve livestock health for 2,000 small farmers in 20 villages in India didn't make the final cut that produced the 22 winners who were announced Friday morning.
While their booths were temporarily closed during the exhibition, finalists, along with development community representatives, participated in Knowledge Exchange technical assistance workshops -- like this one on capacity building.
Three DM2008 jurors who are past grant winners are sharing their well-learned lessons with the hundred finalists.
Take 2006 winner Florence Cassassuce (in photo at right), who brought her water-purifying UV-light bucket to 900 villagers on the rural outskirts of La Paz in Baja California, Mexcio. Cassassuce, implementing her project with the advice of World Bank Senior Environmental Specialist Ricardo Hernandez Murillo, installed 3,500 buckets toward the goal of 6,00, ahead of schedule. But the original buckets didn't always work well, especially in the field, and improvements had to be made with better, and faster, plastic-injection manufacturing.