Importing agricultural institutions

So we\’ve this development problem, see?

We need to get African agriculture up to speed. Current yields are pitiful and by and large it\’s horribly inefficient peasant farming.

That needs to change, just as our own agriculture changed over the past two centuries. Quite apart from anything else, the introduction of efficient agriculture will mean less pressure on the forests and wild lands.

And we\’ve, in theory, at least two ways to do this. We can send all sorts of lovely, no, really, they mean well which is the important point, arts and sociology graduates through Oxfam, War on Want, WaterAid and the like, kit them out with lovely expat salaries, expense accounts and Toyota Land Cruisers, and despite the fact that they know fuck all about farming or the land, they can tell everyone what to do.

Or, we can, well:

White South African farmers are now being courted by the north, by countries who believe their agricultural expertise can kickstart an agrarian revolution across the continent. They are being offered millions of hectares of allegedly virgin rainforest and bush, as well as land already farmed by smallholders or used as pastures by herders.

In the biggest deal to date, Congo-Brazzaville has offered South Africa farmers long leases on up to 10m hectares of land, an area that includes abandoned state farms and bush in the remote south-west of the country. The first contracts, which put 88,000 hectares in the hands of 70 farmers, were signed at a ceremony in the country last month.

Meanwhile, in Mozambique, some 800 South African farmers have acquired a million hectares in the southern province of Gaza, thanks to an arrangement set up by sugar farmer Charl Senekal, an associate of the South African president, Jacob Zuma. This deal will be celebrated at a ceremony in Pretoria next month.

There have been sporadic moves north by white South African farmers since the end of apartheid. But the current migration is more organised, says Ruth Hall of the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa. \”South Africa is exporting [not just] its farmers, but also its value chains, to the rest of the continent,\” she told a meeting on international land grabs in Brighton last week.

We could send people who actually do know about farming in Africa, people who have been there and done it, and get them to do actual farming instead of lolling about in expensive restaurants.

It\’s a tough choice really, isn\’t it?

Which is likely to be more effective? Which will increase yields? Which option will actually solve the problem we wish to solve?

Yup, you guessed it, the one that everyone\’s going to start screaming mustn\’t happen, you got it right.

For of course our South African farmers, the ones who actually know what they\’re doing and who could and would solve the problem, they\’re motivated by profit. The middle class ignorants we export from Europe are motivated by cuddly, kittens with balls of wool, style thoughts.

And as we all know, it\’s the thought that counts, not the outcome, isn\’t it darlings?

Plus, of course, what would happen if we actually solved this problem? Brought African farming up to speed, fed the continent, made some exports so there\’s money rolling in, protected the rain forests as we don\’t need to raze the trees so that peasants can scrape in the dirt with sticks?

There\’d be no more Land Cruisers, no more reason to run campaigns tugging on our heart strings and, horror of horrors, those arts and sociology graduates would stay home, fucking up our own lives.

Nah, the Africans can starve. After all, we don\’t want them all learning Afrikaans, do we?

Ahahahahaha

What a wonderful finding!

Two rival theories have been put forward as to why: one suggests that we\’re fair to strangers because we mistakenly treat them like kin, the other that social conditioning makes us this way. In a recent edition of the journal Science, new evidence is presented that comes down solidly on the side of social conditioning. The researchers found that people who live in small groups and who grow or catch most of their own food don\’t really care that much whether they\’re fair or unfair to strangers, or whether a stranger is punished for being unfair. But people who trade for a larger percentage of their daily food and therefore live in more integrated, larger social groups, are much more likely to be fair to strangers.

So, imagine you were the sort of airey fairey lefty who thinks that the world would be a much better place if we all just trusted each other a little more. If we were nice to strangers, picked up a little more of that heavy burden of caring for all humanity rather than just the selfish regard for just ourselves and our kith and kin.

You know, a bit more agape in the social mix?

So what should be your recommendation for the economic base of the society? Should you be arguing, as such airey fairey lefties do, that we should be more self-sufficient? That we should grow our own food, produce our own energy, knit lentils by tofu light?

Actually, no, you shouldn\’t. You should be arguing that as much as possible, just about anything and everything, should be done via market production rather than household production. For it is the interaction with other people that makes us more fair, that makes us trust others more, leads us to consider the interests of strangers.

Thus there is an entirely moral case (rather than the more usually entirely mechanistic one) for globalisation as providing the finest society possible.

Ain\’t that fun?

It\’s the Joooooos!

I do hope all those who have been screaming about the coup in Honduras will at least have the good grace to be embarrassed by this:

TEGUCIGALPA — It\’s been 89 days since Manuel Zelaya was booted from power. He\’s sleeping on chairs, and he claims his throat is sore from toxic gases and \”Israeli mercenaries\’\’ are torturing him with high-frequency radiation.

\”We are being threatened with death,\’\’ he said in an interview with The Miami Herald, adding that mercenaries were likely to storm the embassy where he has been holed up since Monday and assassinate him.

\”I prefer to march on my feet than to live on my knees before a military dictatorship,\’\’ Zelaya said in a series of back-to-back interviews.

Zelaya was deposed at gunpoint on June 28 and slipped back into his country on Monday, just two days before he was scheduled to speak before the United Nations. He sought refuge at the Brazilian Embassy, where Zelaya said he is being subjected to toxic gases and radiation that alter his physical and mental state.

Witnesses said that for a short time Tuesday morning, soldiers used a device that looked like a large satellite dish to emit a loud shrill noise.

Honduran police spokesman Orlin Cerrato said he knew nothing of any radiation devices being used against the former president.

\”He says there are mercenaries against him? Using some kind of apparatus?\’\’ Cerrato said. “No, no, no, no. Sincerely: no. The only elements surrounding that embassy are police and military, and they have no such apparatus.\’\’

Police responded to reports of looting throughout the city Tuesday night. Civil disturbances subsided Wednesday afternoon, when a crush of people rushed grocery stores and gas stations in the capital.

Israeli government sources in Miami said they could not confirm the presence of any \”Israelis mercenaries\’\’ in Honduras.

Zelaya, 56, is at the embassy with his family and other supporters, without a change of clothes or toothpaste. The power and water were turned back on, and the U.N. brought in some food. Photos showed Zelaya, his trademark cowboy hat across his face, napping on a few chairs he had pushed together.

\”Look at the shape he\’s in — sleeping on chairs,\’\’ de facto President Roberto Micheletti told a local TV news station.

Micheletti took Zelaya\’s place after the military, executing a Supreme Court arrest warrant, burst into Zelaya\’s house and forced him into exile. The country\’s military, congress, Supreme Court and economic leaders have backed the ouster, arguing that Zelaya was bent on conducting an illegal plebiscite that they feared would ultimately lead to his reelection.

Does the Honduran Constitution include a clause getting rid of the President for being a Fruit Loop?

Weird, Weird.

I\’m not sure I understand this.

OK, the Asian Development Bank:

an institution whose mission is to reduce poverty

Right, OK, good thing too.

Instead, these officials have decided to refocus ADB operations on three areas: inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration, with a heavy emphasis on private-sector development. The ADB is abandoning crucial public support for social development.

Right, so to beat poverty we need to create wealth and to do that we need to generate economic growth, which of course needs to be sustainable, and integration of economies is simply a code for further division of labour and the accompanying specialisation: the very things that create wealth.

Sounds like a pretty good plan to me.

So why are these people complaining?

UN Ban on Cloning

Errm, excuse me?

A global ban on cloning humans must be introduced "urgently" to prevent rogue scientists creating cloned babies, a United Nations report warns.

The report, published by law experts at the UN University\’s Institute of Advanced Studies, which advises the organisation, warns that it is just a matter of time before a human is cloned.

The authors say that although 50 countries have legislation that outlaws human reproductive cloning, another 140 members of the UN have no such laws, providing loopholes for unscrupulous scientists.

So damn what? I don\’t particularly support human cloning but then again, neither don\’t I.

None of which is to the point. What damn business is it of the UN, or of anyone else, whether someone does clone a human or not?