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... is the agricultural system shifting to a new equilibrium ?

I don't know.  Ask me again in about 5 years.  The last few years could be a blip with the system returning to the basic trendlines of the last 50 years.  More likely, given the shift in fundamental factors (Climate Change, decreasing productivity of marginal lands, shifting grains from food to biofuel, & etc,) a new equilibrium is in the offing.  Further, population increase is a steady input leading to a positive feedback loop lowering the food per capita statistic.  

But I don't know one is in the offing, I merely think one is.

Re: Washington Consensus

This thing is dead.  For the reasons you give and without the financial resources to force countries to comply US hegemony over the world's economic system will slowly decline.  

Economic regulations would not, in the proposed system, eliminate shipments between regional areas ; they'd be replaced by food aid (with stamps and all that). Restarting liberalization now would spell disaster once prices go back down.

Correction noted.  OK, I'll go with that.

I do note, tho', the underlying assumption - from both of us - of the existence of a surplus to distribute.  I'm not going anywhere with this, just calling it to the foreground.

Re: Food Riots

That's the floating brown stuff in the punch bowl.

TSP wrote a diary outlining the situation in Egypt.  So let me use that as the example.  With the majority of the urban population living on marginal purchasing power any perturbation carries the danger of demonstrations turning into riots turning into social unrest turning into armed civil combat.  There is already low-level urban conflict (terrorism, sic) sporadic in Egypt.  The seeds of armed combat exist.  What hasn't - yet - happened is a change in attitude among enough of the populace from resigned acquiescence or despair to active hostility to the Murbarck (sp?) government.  

Ok, how to prevent that?

Four ways:

(1) raise food production -- I doubt it
(2) lower demand by lower the population -- I doubt it
(3) increase the average pay to match rising food prices -- I doubt it
(4) do all of these and more (such as empower women) -- I doubt it

I doubt each of these because they go completely counter to the established cultural, technological, political and economic basis, structures, and trends.  

The Egyptian government may be able to stave-off a serious, widespread, challenge to its power by shifting lands from export products (flowers-to-Florence) to food production for internal use.  But at some point, at some level of population, even that won't be enough.  

This

is why.

The constant increase in population is sucking-up the world's resources and the world's ability to support that increase in population.  It. Can't. Continue.

Insane, short-sighted, policies such as liberalization, food-to-biofuel, are exacerbating the situation by removing the 'capital' we need to get from here to there and bringing the tipping point closer, faster.

Sorry. I seem to have mounted my soap box and am ranting away.  (Again.)

To cut to a conclusion: Agricultural Reform is intimately intertwined with other factors.  With de-population being, IMO, the most important.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Apr 21st, 2008 at 11:54:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Stay on the soapbox - you're doing good ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Apr 21st, 2008 at 12:41:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks.  Sometimes it seems all I post is snark with a side-order of Doom-&-Gloom.  

Just found a report of a speech given by the US Ag Secretary yesterday talking about the spread of African stem rust - a dwarf wheat disease - in the developing world.  This at a time when the US wheat stocks are at a 60 year low, the global stocks at a 30 year low.  Throughly depressing.

Excuse me while I go to bed and pull the covers over my head.  ;-)

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Apr 21st, 2008 at 05:07:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But then Mazoyer keeps warning that development  of third world agriculture is necessary because at one point it'll be actually needed to feed the growing population - perhaps we are reaching this stage earlier than expected (and perhaps not : is it Peak Food already ?).

Maybe in many places the socio-economico-political system won't be able to adapt to these new conditions - and then some sort of revolution might become likely. In semi-developed countries, famine won't be accepted by the population.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Apr 21st, 2008 at 04:42:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And if, indeed, we are reaching "Peak Food", then indeed food production in the third world needs to be ramped up faster than slower ; in which case higher grain prices will still help capital build up...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Apr 21st, 2008 at 04:44:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When even the ag-economists at the World Bank (a scruffy lot) start talking about needing a agricultural revolution on the order of the introduction of dwarf wheat ... things are grim.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Mon Apr 21st, 2008 at 05:37:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What about applying the Antiquity agricultural revolution in the third world ?

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Apr 21st, 2008 at 06:00:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I need to find out what that means before I can say.

Is that from the Mazoyer and Roudart book?

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Apr 21st, 2008 at 06:22:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, it's from the book. Mazoyer identifies various major agricultural systems, with increasing productivity :

Slash-and-Burn, which came first ; then Hydraulic system (think the Nile) ; the  diverse Inca system which uses the variety of ecosystems around the Andes mountains with local specialisation and redistribution ; both of those systems are more or less a side track, not applicable everywhere.

Then comes "light tooled animal pulled agriculture", which corresponds to the Ard : it was created after the Mediterranean forest disappeared, uses fallow land. IIRC, the lack of capital access in the Third World means that many farms still have not accessed this technical level.

Later systems are "heavy tooled animal pulled agriculture", corresponding to the introduction of the plough to till the heavy soils of Northern Europe. It requires access to iron, stronger animals, and corresponds to the triennial crop rotation.

Afterwards would come the disappearance of fallow land with nitrogen enriching plants introduced into the rotation, and then various waves of mechanisation.  

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Apr 21st, 2008 at 08:02:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And when are you writing that peak food diary ?

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Apr 21st, 2008 at 06:02:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You know, I'd forgotten about that.  (he wrote sheepishly)

I'll get to work on it.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Apr 21st, 2008 at 06:13:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
seconded.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Mon Apr 21st, 2008 at 06:37:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can you make this, and the top-level comment, into (a) diar(y/ies)?

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 6th, 2008 at 07:46:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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