Collier for agricultural development

In: Uncategorized

26 Oct 2008

Paul Collier¸ professor of economics and director of the Centre for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University, has expanded on his arguments on the need to develop agriculture (see posts of 15 April 2008 and 22 August 2008) in an article in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs (November / December). I have previously criticised Collier in my review of his book, The Bottom Billion (see link on the left hand side of the homepage), but on this topic he talks much sense. His latest arguments summarises his argument as follows:

“The real challenge is not the technical difficulty of returning the world to cheap food but the political difficulty of confronting the lobbying interests and illusions on which current policies rest. Feeding the world will involve three politically challenging steps. First, contrary to the romantics, the world needs more commercial agriculture, not less. The Brazilian model of high-productivity large farms could readily be extended to areas where land is underused. Second, and again contrary to the romantics, the world needs more science: the European ban and the consequential African ban on genetically modified (GM) crops are slowing the pace of agricultural productivity growth in the face of accelerating growth in demand. Ending such restrictions could be part of a deal, a mutual de-escalation of folly, that would achieve the third step: in return for Europe’s lifting its self-damaging ban on GM products, the United States should lift its self-damaging subsidies supporting domestic biofuel.”