In light of growing concerns over the implications of many conventional agricultural practices, and especially the deep tilling of soils, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), among others, has begun to promote a package of soil conserving practices under the banner of ‘conservation agriculture’. While the title might be novel, its associated practices have long been employed by farmers, and studied by social scientists seeking to understand the reasons for their adoption and non-adoption. This paper reviews and synthesizes this past research in order to identify those independent variables that regularly explain adoption, and thereby facilitate policy prescriptions to augment adoption around the world. While a disaggregated analysis of a subset of commonly used variables reveals some underlying patterns of influence, once various contextual factors (e.g. study locale or method) are controlled, the primary finding of the synthesis is that there are few if any universal variables that regularly explain the adoption of conservation agriculture across past analyses. Given the limited prospect of identifying such variables through further research, we conclude that efforts to promote conservation agriculture will have to be tailored to reflect the particular conditions of individual locales.
The paper examines the main economic and institutional incentives which have driven major OECD food retailers in their use of private voluntary standards and discusses their growing role in shaping the agri-food system. It is based on interviews with quality and safety directors of major OECD retailers and a brief survey of retailers’ actual buyer practices. Though not all retailers are included, these firms account for over 70% of retail food sales in OECD countries. We find that the growing voice of civil society, changing legal and institutional frameworks, increased market concentration and buying power as well as their integration with financial markets has provided the setting for development of private standards. While food safety and quality standards are seen as key to maintaining and improving reputation as well as against legal liabilities, additional standards such as labour, environmental and animal welfare are also gaining ground as strategies for customer loyalty and market shares. The grass-roots retailer move in the harmonization of food safety standards is seen as an initial step towards a global approach to managing the food system, with harmonization of other standards likely in the future. Given their buyer power, these developments can be viewed as a way of governing the food system and will be important for both OECD and non-OECD food and agricultural sector evolution in the coming years.
Diet and activity have been affected by the rapid worldwide shifts in technological innovations reducing energy expenditures during leisure, transportation, and work; globalized modern food processing, marketing and distribution techniques; global mass media. The increases occur increasingly in rural areas on all continents. The resultant global increase in obesity increasingly is shifting the burden of obesity to the poor. While few direct linkages between globalization of trade in goods, services, and technology can be directly linked to diet and activity, a strong case exists for globalization’s role as a key underlying force behind this stage of the nutrition transition.
A major challenge for agricultural policy in Africa is how to address the market instability-related causes of low farm productivity and food insecurity. This paper highlights structural changes affecting the behavior of food markets in eastern and southern Africa and discusses their implications for the design of strategies to stabilize food prices. These changes include (1) an increasing trend in maize prices toward import parity levels, reflecting an emerging structural maize deficit in much of the region; (2) increasingly diversified food consumption patterns in both rural and urban areas; (3) highly concentrated marketed maize surplus, which have largely unrecognized implications for the magnitude of price risk faced by most farm households; and (4) the strategic interactions between private and public marketing actors leading in some cases to heightened market instability and food crises. In the prevailing dual market environment now characterizing most of the region, greater coordination, transparency, and consultation between private and public market actors is needed to achieve reasonable levels of food price stability and predictability.
The overall goal of our paper is to understand the impact that irrigation in China has had on grain production and incomes, in general, and income and poverty alleviation in poor areas, in particular. The paper seeks to meet three objectives. First, we describe the relationship among irrigation status, yields and household crop revenue. Second, we seek to understand the magnitude and nature of the effect that irrigation has on yields and crop revenue. Finally, we seek to understand the impact that irrigation has on incomes in poor areas. Our analysis shows that irrigation contributes to increases in yields for almost all crops and in income for farmers in all areas. The importance of crop income in poor areas and the strong relationship between crop revenue and irrigation provides evidence of the importance of irrigation in past and future poverty alleviation in China. We also show that in the majority of the villages that invested in new irrigation, returns are positive even after accounting for increases in capital and production costs.
Managing food price risks and instability is a major challenge in the midst of ongoing food market reforms. Key findings from the papers in this special volume revolve around five broad areas: (i) the sources and magnitudes of food price instability in different country contexts; (ii) the economic and social costs stemming from price instability; (iii) the lessons from food market reforms to date; (iv) the design of policy reforms in ways that promote efficient and stable market development and protect the interests of the poor; and (v) potential policy responses to food price instability in a liberalizing market environment.
Recent reports, workshops and meetings on GM (Genetically Modified) crops tend to characterize GM food production as a solution to Africa’s food crisis. However, GM crops are currently grown commercially in only one country in Africa – South Africa. Biotechnology tools range from tissue culture to molecular breeding and genetic engineering. This paper focuses on GM crop improvement and analyzes the development of seven GM crops (six food staples and cotton) over the past 15 years in Africa. The case studies reveal a number of unexpected scientific, legal, economic and political barriers to the development of GM crops and long delays in developing and implementing national biosafety regulations and guidelines. We conclude that most GM crops are at least 10–15 years or longer from reaching smallholder farmers in Africa. During this time special attention should be given to strengthening conventional plant breeding programs in NARS (National Agricultural Research Systems), African universities and the CGIAR. Biotechnology approaches must be nested and integrated into plant breeding programs. Special attention should also be given to raising public awareness of biotechnology, mobilizing political support and commitment to strengthening African capacity in biotechnology, biosafety, food safety and IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) and mounting long-term training programs to train the next generation of African plant breeders and GM crop specialists.
The Innu of northern Labrador, Canada have undergone profound transitions in recent decades with important implications for conservation, food and health policy. The change from permanent nomadic hunting, gathering and trapping in ‘the country’ ( ) to sedentary village life (known as ‘sedentarisation’) has been associated with a marked decline in physical and mental health. The overarching response of the national government has been to emphasize village-based and institutional solutions. We show that changing the balance back to country-based activities would address both the primary causes of the crisis and improve the health and well-being of the Innu. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, interviews with Innu older people ( ), empirical data on nutrition and activity, and comparative data from the experiences of other indigenous peoples, we identify pertinent biological and environmental transitions of significance to the current plight of the Innu. We show that nutrition and physical activity transitions have had major negative impacts on individual and community health. However, hunting and its associated social and cultural forms is still a viable option as part of a mixed livelihood and economy in the environmentally significant boreal forests and tundra of northern Labrador. Cultural continuity through Innu hunting activities is a means to decelerate, and possibly reverse, their decline. We suggest four new policy areas to help restore country-based activities: (i) a food policy for country food; (ii) an outpost programme; (iii) ecotourism; and (iv) an amended school calendar. Finally, we indicate the implications of our analysis for people in other countries.
This paper identifies factors that influence the decision behavior of farmers in Southern Ethiopia in adopting improved maize varieties by estimating a logistic regression. Data for this study came from 222 farmers interviewed as part of a national adoption survey conducted in three selected maize growing administrative zones of Southern Ethiopia in 1998. The paper also assesses the impact of pure and mixed strategy options on the probability of adoption of improved maize varieties through simulation under different scenarios. As far as pure strategies are concerned, the credit strategy is more powerful than the others in terms of raising the probability of adoption. However, results from the analysis of pure versus mixed strategies imply that mixed strategies are no necessarily much better than pure strategies.
Successor states of the Soviet Union have witnessed substantial falls in agri-food production since the break-up of the USSR. Supply chain disruption has been a major factor in this decline. This paper identifies how asymmetric information between farmers and processors led to market failure in Moldova and how one dairy company has attempted to overcome such a crisis. The case study company has invested in better monitoring of milk quality to effectively supervise transactions. Milk production is a major source of income for rural households who sell to dairies via village collecting stations. The costs of monitoring milk quality to avoid market failure from adverse selection are significant. Preventing small-scale producers being marginalised from dairy supply chains is an important factor in safeguarding and improving rural livelihoods.
Although its arguments may have more general applicability, this paper discusses the desirability and options for the stabilisation of staple food prices principally in Eastern and Southern Africa. It addresses three broad questions: (i) why is stabilisation of food (grain) prices desirable? (ii) what is technically feasible? and (iii) can the governance and trade issues thrown up by suggested mechanisms be solved? It considers a number of options for price stabilisation, assessing the strengths and weaknesses of each and suggesting situations in which each may be appropriate.
The member countries of the World Health Organization (WHO) have recently endorsed its global strategy on diet, physical activity and health. The strategy emphasises the need to limit the consumption of saturated fats and -fatty acids, salt and sugars, and to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables in order to combat the growing burden of non-communicable diseases. This paper attempts a broad quantitative assessment of the consumption impacts of these norms in OECD countries using a mathematical programming approach. We find that adherence to the WHO norms would involve a significant decrease in the consumption of vegetable oils (30%), dairy products (28%), sugar (24%), animal fats (30%) and meat (pig meat, 13.5%, mutton and goat 14.5%) and a significant increase in the human consumption of cereals (31%), fruits (25%) and vegetables (21%).
The Innu of northern Labrador, Canada have undergone profound transitions in recent decades with important implications for conservation, food and health policy. The change from permanent nomadic hunting, gathering and trapping in 'the country' (nutshimit) to sedentary village life (known as 'sedentarisation') has been associated with a marked decline in physical and mental health. The overarching response of the national government has been to emphasize village-based and institutional solutions. We show that changing the balance back to country-based activities would address both the primary causes of the crisis and improve the health and well-being of the Innu. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, interviews with Innu older people (Tshenut), empirical data on nutrition and activity, and comparative data from the experiences of other indigenous peoples, we identify pertinent biological and environmental transitions of significance to the current plight of the Innu. We show that nutrition and physical activity transitions have had major negative impacts on individual and community health. However, hunting and its associated social and cultural forms is still a viable option as part of a mixed livelihood and economy in the environmentally significant boreal forests and tundra of northern Labrador. Cultural continuity through Innu hunting activities is a means to decelerate, and possibly reverse, their decline. We suggest four new policy areas to help restore country-based activities: (i) a food policy for country food; (ii) an outpost programme; (iii) ecotourism; and (iv) an amended school calendar. Finally, we indicate the implications of our analysis for people in other countries. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Smaller dairy farms in the US are observed to have higher costs than larger farms, and whether those higher costs are due to technology or inefficiency has implications for policy to address the small farm. If high cost of production on smaller farms is due to a higher cost frontier, then to make small farms competitive would require research to devise and design technology that is suitable for small farms. If instead high cost is due to inefficiency, then educational approaches are needed to ensure small dairy farms use technology efficiently. To determine the cause of higher costs on small farms, the cost of milk production by farm size was decomposed into frontier and efficiency components with a stochastic cost curve using data on USA dairy farms. Although the frontier cost of production decreases with farm size, that cost reduction is not as pronounced as a cost curve that includes inefficiency. The higher cost of production on many smaller farms is caused by inefficiency rather than technology.
The paper first presents a 10-year outlook for major Asian dairy markets (China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam) based on a world dairy model. Then, using Heien and Wessells’s (1988) [Heien, D.M., Wessells, C., 1988. The demand for dairy products: structure, prediction, and decomposition. American Journal of Agricultural Economics 70, 219-28] technique, dairy product consumption growth is decomposed into contributions generated by income growth, population growth, price change, and urbanization and these contributions are quantified. Using the world dairy model, the paper also analyzes the impacts of alternative assumptions of higher income levels and technology development in Asia on Asian dairy consumptions and world dairy prices. The outlook projects that Asian dairy consumption will continue to grow strongly in the next decade. The consumption decomposition suggests that the growth would be mostly driven by income and population growth and, as a result, would raise world dairy prices. The simulation results show that technology improvement in Asian countries would dampen world dairy prices and meanwhile boost domestic dairy consumption.
This paper seeks to critically examine the conceptual linkages between the issue of land rights for women, with household food security on the one hand and gender equality on the other. After a brief analysis of shifts in both international and national policy discourse and practice in terms of control over land as vital for food security, it seeks to analyse the implications of this for gender relations. The paper argues that in a context of diversified rural livelihoods, the contribution of agricultural production to household subsistence has been declining. This trend has been reinforced by a decline in public investment, stagnant growth and fluctuating prices for agricultural products. Men have been able to access the better paid, non-farm jobs, while leaving women behind to manage agricultural production. The renewed link between production and food security in agricultural policy has however meant allowing men not to have responsibility for household food security. While a right to land for women is a positive development, it appears also to be leading to an enhancement of work burdens, without much change in terms of status or decision-making authority.
Most developed countries have adopted labelling policies for genetically modified (GM) food. In April 2004, Canada implemented a voluntary labelling policy for GM and non-GM food, while France adopted the European Union’s new extended mandatory labelling of GM food. I present the result of a qualitative survey of GM and non-GM food labels in supermarkets in Canada and France, five months after the introduction of the new policies. I find that there are almost no GM labelled products in France and non-GM labelled products in Canada. Each policy tends to crowd out the targeted label attribute. However, Canadian consumers can choose between GM and non-GM organic products, whereas there are only non-GM products in French supermarkets. Recent political developments in Quebec suggest that the labelling landscape may change in Canada, either with an increase in the number of non-GM products at the retail level or a transition towards a mandatory labelling policy like in France.
Governments in most Asian countries used grain price stabilization as a major policy instrument when they embarked on promoting the Green Revolution. The art of public policy-making is to know when to introduce government interventions and when to withdraw. The common mistake is to forget the withdrawal part, leading to unsustainably high costs – a dilemma that most Asian countries are confronted with today. Analyzing case studies of six Asian countries, which have tried to tackle the task in different ways with varying degrees of success, eight key lessons can be learned from the more than three decades of food price stabilization in Asia. Times have changed: policies and public agencies that may have been appropriate 30 years ago are not optimal today. Private institutions have strengthened significantly – or could be strengthened significantly – and should be entrusted for many of the functions that parastatals, or other government agencies, have traditionally performed. Holding on to old practices delays reaping the benefits that changing current policies have to offer.
Conventional welfare measures of the costs of food price fluctuations in low-income countries are extended to allow for both economic growth and food security effects. The analysis reveals that growth and food security effects may dominate more conventional welfare costs of food price fluctuations, although estimating the empirical magnitude of the effects is hampered by the lack of consensus on the extent to which food price fluctuations actually reduce economic growth and food security. Even if the welfare costs of food price fluctuations are high there are many challenges to the design and successful implementation of price stabilization schemes.