I recently came across a paper by Kelsey Jack which is a white paper for the J-PAL and CEGA Agricultural Technology Adoption Initiative (ATAI). This paper systematically explores the barriers to technology adoption that come from market inefficiencies, what we know about these, and what research is going on (under ATAI) to fill these gaps.
Agriculture and Rural Development
Most of the proposed solutions to climate change such as substitution of fossil fuels require large investments, policies that are politically contentious or difficult to enforce, and years to fully implement. However, some of the most effective and lowest cost opportunities for greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions are lifestyle choices that can be made today that cost little, and that are actually good for us. Chief among them is the decision to adopt a healthier, less meat intensive diet.
The significance of this opportunity was emphasized in a recent presentation at the World Bank by Jonathan Foley, director of the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment. According to analysis by the Institute, every pound of meat is equivalent to about 30 pounds of grain production in its contribution to climate change when allowance is made for the full life cycle of livestock production. This is primarily because methane emissions from ruminants have a GHG impact roughly 25 times that of carbon dioxide.
Another expression of the resource intensity of meat production, Foley explained, is that even highly efficient agricultural systems like that in the US only deliver about the same calories per hectare in human consumption terms as poor African countries with more grain based diets. The surprisingly large role of livestock in global warming was explored in a 2009 article by Robert Goodland, formerly a World Bank economist, and Jeff Anhang, an IFC environmental specialist. They estimate that when land use and respiration are taken into account and methane effects are properly calculated, livestock could account for half of current warming when using a 20 year time-frame. According to Goodland and Anhang, replacing 25% of livestock products with alternatives would liberate as much as 40% of current world grain production with comparable benefits in reduced burdens on land, water, and other resources.
If you were to throw out the question of what, if any, is the connection between climate change and the current food crisis, I suspect that many people would answer instinctively that global warming is at least partially responsible for the spiraling food prices. Why? Because –they would argue- it caused the various extreme weather events that disrupted production in major producing regions from Eastern Europe and Central Asia to Australia to Latin America’s Southern Cone.
Is the hypothesis of that connection valid? Well, no and yes. ‘No’, in the sense that we really can’t attribute specific climatic events to global warming. After all, even without climate change, extreme events happen: a once-in-a-hundred-year event happens once in a hundred years (duh!).
Higher prices have been making headlines in Thailand. Although wages and farm incomes are up, so are the prices of eggs, milk and fried rice. I am definitely feeling the pinch: the price of my favorite beverage—coconut water—has surged following a beetle infestation.
As prices go up, so does the pressure on the government to reign in the spiraling cost of living. But as we discussed in the recently released Thailand Economic Monitor - April 2011, the current inflation challenge is especially tough to tackle.
“My village is beautiful and I have lived here all my life. Even though life can be hard, I don’t want to go away.” Eight-year-old Zannati lives on the front lines of climate change in her cyclone-ravaged coastal village of Nishanbaria on the Bay of Bengal. When she speaks, you feel her determination and see the fire in her eyes.
The embankment holding back the sea, part of 480 kms of embankment repaired and reconstructed by the World Bank, is the only protection her village has from cyclones.
Shabash Bangladesh (Bravo Bangladesh) – a photo exhibition showcasing development results in Bangladesh – tells the story of Zannati and many other Bangladeshis, serving as a visual backdrop to the first Country Performance and Results Review (CPRR) in Dhaka on April 13, 2011.
The CPRR was the first high-level review to take stock of the results being achieved under the Bank’s FY11-14 Country Assistance Strategy (CAS). This event was part of wider efforts to instill a results culture across the Bangladesh program, from the project level during implementation support, to the portfolio and strategy levels. It was also an important step in enhancing the Bank’s accountability for results.
Three interlinked global crises—food, economic, climate—were high on the agenda of this year’s Bank-IMF Spring Meetings. At a conference organized by the Independent Evaluation Group and World Bank Institute, a panel of experts—Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner; Hans Herren, President, Millennium Institute; Trevor Manuel, Minister, National Planning Commission, South Africa; Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Managing Director, World Bank; Robert Watson, Chief Scientific Advisor, Government of UK— discussed not only the impact of each crisis, but crucially the links among them in seeking joint solutions.
I recently returned from Ethiopia where I visited a project that is being covered by MIGA’s political risk insurance. The project involves the privatization and expansion of an existing farm to cultivate and process passion fruit, mango, and papaya for juice exports. The newly formed company, africaJUICE Tibila Share Company, has taken what was essentially an abandoned farm and transformed it into a thriving enterprise.
The project introduced passion fruit to the community which is harvested and processed into juice in a new state-of-the art factory. The juice is then exported to markets in Europe and the Middle East. In addition to creating significant direct employment for a poor rural area (2400 employees), the project is developing a cadre of contract farmers who can earn a significantly higher income for this “in demand” product.
There is a jobs cow waiting to be milked in Africa. It is agriculture and agri-business.
In its initial condition, Africa’s agriculture bears a striking resemblance to its telecom sector in the late 1990s. A decade on, a combination of right policies and strengthened regulatory framework has seen the sector open up to free enterprise, attracting about $60 billion in private investments and leading to today’s ICT boom: 450 million mobile phones in Africa, which is more mobile phones than Canada, Mexico and the USA combined.
As the Bank reported earlier this week, global food prices are rising to dangerous levels and threaten tens of millions of poor people around the world. Rising prices have pushed an estimated 44 million people into poverty since last June.
In the current food price debate, there's plenty that Latin America can bring to the table.
A newly released World Bank report highlights the region's potential to help solve the food crisis given its huge natural resources -land, water- and agricultural expertise.