TaN: Food security is even more timely now, more than ever – especially considering that global population is ballooning, that more and more forests are cleared (apparently) for food production, that conventional agriculture is becoming more and more expensive while becoming less and less nutritious unless it is enjoying subsidy, that preventable hunger is rampant (concentrating in the poverty-stricken southern hemispherical regions), and that access to food is unjustifiably disproportionately skewed to the affluent countries. And, if anybody should forget, no matter how advance civilization and technology have gone, we will always have to eat and the only guarantee of a steady and inexpensive food supply is to grow and cultivate food yourself.
What makes this situation dangerous are two principal attitudes adopted by less affluent nations: (1) relying on importing “cheaper” food from industrialized nations (where the cost is artificially kept low chiefly through subsidies) instead of growing their own and, (2) for the sake of easy money, permit and grant foreign investors and financial groups (in exchange for rent or even for outright purchase) to convert and transform land – often, prime forest – into plantation type agricultural fields to feed their own populations. And, it is not uncommon for the “awarded” land to have been occupied by poor indigenous or marginalized people who were either forcibly evicted or defrauded off their traditional/ancestral land.
To entrust food production to others, especially to people who is only doing it for profit is to invite disaster and food insecurity. It is even worse if the large investors are foreigners, who would not think twice to transfer their operations to other countries when the conditions are no longer conducive to maximizing their profit or the host countries has outlived their usefulness. Often, they just pack up and leave the resource-depleted, environmentally-ravaged land behind – all their pollutants, their wastes, their discards, their contaminants. It is unwise and delusional to believe that large for-profit-only investors will ever take responsible care of other people’s land once the land is no longer useful or profitable. To consistently and continuously cling to the notion that the key to economic prosperity is to invite foreign investors and even entice them with unfair advantages and incentives over our own people. Once the conditions are no longer conducive or advantages or when better opportunities emerge in other areas, foreign investors would not hesitate to pull up roots and leave for greener pastures.
When it comes to food security, we have no one else we can depend on except ourselves. We should never entrust something as importance as food security to foreigners, even if they promise or especially if they make promises that are “too good to be true”. Foreign investors cannot be expected to possess any sense of compassion for others’ needs and plights whatsoever.
TaN: A recent news report has shown that the expression “You can’t fight city hall” is not true. If there are enough of us who are determined and stand united, there is nothing we cannot do. In a classic exhibition of such inherent power, in an article downloaded from commondreams.org, it discussed how depositors became so disappointed with how the Obama administration continues to “prop up” big banks because the banks are “too big to fail” and decided to take it into their own hands and transfer their accounts to small rural (state or partnership) banks. [I’m sorry but I am having difficulty retrieving this article. Perhaps, someone else can have better luck – it is in commondreams.org and the article was dated circa June 2011, to the best of my recollection.]
In a related article (http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/06/12-3?print), it discussed the concept of public banks – aka state banks or partnership banks. This concept is worth looking into.
TaN: The Spirit of Cooperativism and Unionism must work together and, together, the two are unbeatable. With the seemingly unbridled skyrocketing of prices – currently for some, prospective for the rest, and the muiltple layers of middlemen are primarily the culprit – and the ever-widening wealth gap between the wealthy and the poor, it is inevitable that the end-players (i.e., primary producers and the end-consumers) will eventually wise up and cut out – if not, at least, trim down the layers of – the middlemen. The end result is both the primary producers and the end consumers (who have always been at the opposite short end of the same stick) will get a better price – a higher selling price and a lower purchasing price, respectively. I am eagerly looking forward to the day both primary producers and end consumers will wake up to the realization that all they need are each other and that middlemen should be restricted to a maximum of three layers – one as the agent of the primary producer, one as the agent of the end consumer, and an agent’s agent who makes it his/her business to know other agents and who they represent. Or, better yet, the government can set the maximum mark up (i.e., the difference between the farm gate price or production cost and the purchase cost) of essential commodities but no limit to the number of middlemen; in this manner, the more middlemen are involved, the less they will earn. It is high time that both producers and consumers take their economic fate into their own hands and not let middlemen dictate the terms and make all the profit at the expense of everybody else.