Nice very concise article in the economist about food prices in Sub-Saharan Africa. In particular the following passage I found pretty interesting:
“Moreover, shortages in Africa are partly caused by inefficient farming, an estimated loss of 40% of produce on the way to market, and the high cost of fuel. And while Africa has more virgin farmland than anywhere else, in some areas good land is scarce. Many families, for instance in western Kenya or northern Ethiopia, have less than the 0.3 hectares (0.74 acres) deemed the minimum for supporting a family. Land title is still often held communally, making it nigh-impossible for farmers to get credits. Women especially find it hard to get property rights, though they often do most of the farm work.”
All of these are interesting and apparent where I’m at. To think 40% of produce is lost in transit, its crazy. And then if we could calculate the opportunity cost of farming done inefficiently, it would be staggering. For example, the group I work with had a very bad time with the maize crops it grew last season for a variety of reasons. They ended up harvesting only two standard bags of maize from two acres. One well run acre in this part of Kenya can produce over 50 if done correctly. So 98 bags of hypothetical maize not produced, plus the loss from the renting of the land, the labor, the seeds, the fertilizer, etc.
Abdolkarim Soroush, an Iranian scholar, once said, “the greatest dictatorship is that of poverty and ignorance.” I couldn’t agree more.