On why Oxfam are drivelling fools

That Oxfam report into the food industry insisted that poor farmers need better transport links, better seeds, acess to better inputs. Plus better ways to get their outputs to market.

The same report also attacked the major commodity traders.

The way-markers today are grain silos, agricultural hangars for harvesting machines, and banner adverts across nearly every field for agrochemicals and genetically modified soya seed.

Occasionally, the green and orange logo of Monsanto\’s Roundup glyphosphate herbicide gives way to an election poster for the Perónist president, Cristina Kirchner, or to a rival chemical or seed company\’s billboard. But there\’s no question who dominates the landscape here.

Less visible at first, and strangely unfamiliar to consumers in the UK, are the big four transnational exporters that dominate the other half of the soya complex, the so-called ABCD group of companies: ADM, Bunge, Cargill and (Louis) Dreyfus.

Between them, these firms account for 75-90% of the global grain trade, according to some estimates. They provide the fertiliser for the soya, and here, as elsewhere, dominate the processing industry that divides the beans into oil for food manufacturing and protein meal for animal feed. When you reach the ports of Rosario and San Lorenzo-San Martín, they are unmissable, however, with their dozens of crushing plants, biodiesel refineries, grain terminals and elevators towering above the river.

This is where about 55m tonnes of soya a year, worth $24bn (£14.7bn), starts a journey through the docks to the importers – China, India and Europe.

They\’re complete cretins, aren\’t they?

It\’s the very commodity traders who are providing the access to inputs, the storage, the transport to export, that those farmers need and Oxfam desires.

How did the lunatics gain the keys to the asylum?

3 thoughts on “On why Oxfam are drivelling fools”

  1. I heard that nice Oxfam lady on the wireless the other day (with Nicola Horlick), saying that commodity derivatives were evil. Unfortunately, the discussion ended at that point, so there was no chance to ask her how farmers might be able to hedge against risk in the absence of said derivatives.

  2. I am a little concerned that so much of the commodities market is concentrated in the hands of four big players. Such concentration I would have thought would be likely to drive up prices. I would like to see more competition in the commodities marketplace. Wouldn’t you?

    Tim adds: Worth noting that Oxfam got even that wrong. They report claims three only, they left out Dreyfus.

    And globally, there’s Glencore, and, perhaps not the best list, but the first one I found. Traders in wheat:


    The market just ain’t that concentrated.

  3. Look Oxfam want everyone to live in little huts, with one cow, one pig, a few chickens and a donkey. Thats their ideal. Of course not for them personally, they need nice centrally heated houses, and cars, and electrical appliances, and regular foreign holidays. But everyone else, thats what THEY should have, and be greatful.

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