Editorial on: Food Production and World Hunger... and Providing Solutions
By Charisse Servañez January 25, 2011
Cultivators and governments in developed nations face the combined problems of overproduction and depressed commodity prices. Prices are so low that farmers face financial ruin and must rely on huge subsidies from their governments to survive. At the same time, many millions in the least developed countries face death from hunger-related causes. This shows that the world does not have a food shortage, but rather a dysfunctional economic system – one that does not allow a vital commodity to move from producers to those who desperately need it. The inequality over decision-making, negative impacts on agriculture by the development programs, and trade barriers all contribute to the problem of world hunger. For these reasons, the role of women and owners of smaller lands must be acknowledged, alternative farming methods must be implemented, and trade barriers must be eliminated.
The neglect towards farmers with smaller lands and women has a negative impact on food production. Development programs such as the Green Revolution intensify the concentration of land in elite hands as it chooses only the more marginal lands by the export-crop plantation of the oligarchies. The produce of these oligarchies relies on farming inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides, and hybrid seeds. Since smaller farmers cannot afford these inputs, they receive little if any help from the Green Revolution. The Green Revolution focuses on the wealth and financial capabilities of who is in control of the land. In addition, this development program often assigns land and gives credit and extension services only to men. This negatively affects the productivity of women, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia where food shortages are worst. Women produce more than 50 percent of the world’s food; in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, this proportion increases to as much as 80 percent. However, women often have little if any control over food productivity, since men make the decisions even if they do not do much of the work. In the least developing nations, women provide most of the labour in agriculture yet have little control over decision-making, whereas small land owners keep struggling to survive.
The solution is simple: to redistribute the amounts of land among the wealth and the poor, and to acknowledge the role of women in food production. Redistributive land reforms will obviously relieve poverty and promote an equitable and sustainable development, thus the increased food production and consumption. Acknowledging the role of women means ensuring knowledge and power for them to be successful. Women particularly in the least developed nations must be given access to more education and better health care, so that they will gain more control over decision-making such as borrowing money in order to purchase lands and provide farming inputs. Nevertheless, these farming inputs must be sustainable as to not further damage the environment.
Not only do development programs such as the Green Revolution and its development projects, neglect rights of property and function, but they also destroy fragile African soils with their heavy machinery and chemical fertilizers. There is also a treadmill of dependency caused by the Green Revolution, a dependency in which increased spraying of pesticide is required because more and more pests are developing resistance. This increase results into the decline of the soil. This then results into an increase in the fertilizer that is necessary to produce the same amount of output for the following season. The way out to this treadmill of dependency would be alternative farming methods that come in a great variety.
Examples of alternative farming methods are called “hydroponic farming”, “aquaculture”, and of course, multiple cropping. Hydroponic farming is an unconventional farming method where in a hydroponic environment, virtually every growth condition can be controlled. Specifically, water and fertilizer are provided in precise amounts, and additionally, soil is not used. The act that soil is not used in this environment means that the possibility of soil-borne diseases and pests will be eliminated. Alternatively, aquaculture is an agricultural model for fish production in which fish are raised on farms. In the least developed countries, aquaculture offers a promise of a much healthier diet. Moreover, aquaculture can solve the problem of over-fishing, and the cheaper prices of the fish will lead to an increased supply. Then again, there’s also multiple cropping, or diversification. That is, getting more than one crop from the same plot of land. Multiple cropping widens the range of commodity, whish will be better for the overall economy.
The world’s dysfunctional economic system is the major contributor to world famine. The least developed nations in the world today face problems in agricultural trade, food aid, and the debt trap. A history of colonial legacy in the least developing nations continue up until this day but instead of trading slaves, trade comes in the form of dollars. Concession companies concentrate on the extraction of agricultural raw materials. On the other hand, in Nicaragua American foreign policy has affected and continues to affect agricultural production: economic embargo resulted in Nicaragua’s dependence in importing of hybrid seeds from the United States, while exports of goods were prohibited. Food aid, particularly into Africa, is also used by Northern countries to promote long-term dependence on their food exports. This leads into a two-fold dependency. The first fold is that farms have no choice but to purchase hybrid seeds from the multinationals, because native/indigenous plants start to become extinct and entire agricultures disappear. The second fold is that since hybrids do not remain genetically pure season after season, farmers and growers are forced to return and purchase new hybrid seeds. This has developed because the Green Revolution, which claims to solve the problem of hunger, imposed the “high-yield variety” or HYV. In contrast to the dependency inflicted on the least developed nations, there is a heavy emphasis on exports that results in less emphasis on production of goods for internal needs. This emphasis is implemented by Structural Adjustment Programs or SAPs by the organization called International Monetary Fund, IMF. Due to subsidizing in developed countries, the increased demand for exports from the less developed countries increases. This then leads to a shortage of goods, for the most part domestic.
The development of internal markets is crucial, as it represents a country’s real economic development. Subsidizing in developed countries must end, so that demands from the less developed countries will decrease. Trade barriers such as economic embargoes must be removed. The role of government must be increased: when governments in lesser developed nations impose subsidies in the agricultural production, there will be an increase in food production and more importantly domestic consumption.
The solution to world hunger is that the way in which food is produced and sold in the world market, must be reformed. Every area of this problem must be addressed separately, as they are found at different levels: socially, ecologically, and economically, so on. The role of women and owners of smaller lands must be acknowledged, alternative farming methods must be implemented, and trade barriers must be eliminated. The problems of food production and consumption did not develop overnight, and they are likely to take many years to eradicate.
Most social policies today cannot adapt factors such as population growth, past economic problems and regional differences, because of ongoing changes in economies. This inability to adapt, results to income inequality. Gini coefficients keep increasing because the reported income statuses tend to be biased, as the lower-income/poorer groups underestimate their income. In order to develop the standard of living for everyone in the world, both consumption inequality and income inequality must be measured and addressed. Command economy, free education and progressive taxing are ways to promote equality.
1. Command economy: Decentralization and a socialist income distribution would result into greater income equality. A command economy is fit for equality and security. Ideally, it is also efficient because the central planning figures out the best way for resources to be used for the good of all. Although a command economy can have a negative impact on freedom since the central planning decides who works where, produces what, and gets to buy what, the overall growth depends on the country’s leaders and circumstances as does stability. It is the only choice we have over a free-enterprise economy, which does not deliver equality.
2. Free education leads to better paying jobs, and greater employment rates. Free education would also increase marginal utility. Obviously, educated people can achieve better-paying jobs, which will definitely improve people’s income. If the government provides for free education, people will be ensured of their functioning and capabilities.
3. Progressive Tax: Taxing the rich would result into a “second degree stochastic dominance”1 in which the higher-income groups will be more equal with the lower-income groups, in terms of consumption. Those groups that receive more should give more. Progressive tax maximizes the amount of tax that can be collected with a lower number of objections, as it presents an easy political solution for governments with economic problems. Also, people with higher income tend to have a higher percentage of nonobligatory income, and can thus afford a greater tax burden. A person earning exactly enough money to pay for food and housing cannot afford to pay any taxes without it causing material loss, while someone earning twice as much can afford to pay up to half their income in taxes. If the government implemented progressive tax, tax would be more equitable because consumption requires a balance between known and complex social costs.
Humans undertake a cyclic – sometimes life-long – journey of dismantling heir own external personas in order to experience their true essential selves. This is evident in I ♥ Huckabees by David O. Rusell. Whereas Albert Morkovski willingly asks the big life questions, his shadow self, Brad Stand, fearfully maintains and guards his superficial point of view. Albert, “his other” Tom Corn, and Brad’s girlfriend Dawn Campbell consciously attempt to reach their inner selves by making contact with the persona, ego and shadow. Each character’s unconscious psyche is unique. However, as it contains raucous things that cause societal rejection, once reached and overcome, it can be rewarding. While everything is connected, humans are free agents who are individually responsible for personal experience. Only those such as Albert, Tom, and Dawn, who courageously aim for the core of being and go through the manure, can find magic and reach true fulfillment.
While his shadow self Brad fearfully keeps his superficial perspective, Albert faithfully remains existential. Albert, in hope of finding answers to what would seem to be illogical coincidences in his life, ends up being alienated by society due to his existential behaviour: “I keep seeing hating faces that I have to chop up with a machete” (Rusell). He is willing enough to resign from conformity unlike his shadow Brad, the materialist, cowardice, superficial self. Since the shadow self, according to psychoanalyst Carl Jung, is the tough part – in which one must overcome the fear of negative impact and embarrassment – of the discrete function in every individuality, both Albert and Brad have a difficult time in the individuation process. However, only Albert is successful enough to pass the shadow work or what Jung refers to as “the First Act of Courage”. While the negativity of society projects shadow content, the transcendental evolution combined with will, versus fear and conformity, occurs. The cruelty in society is the predator while Brad and Albert are the preys, but Albert escapes and leaves his shadow self behind.
Like Albert, Tom and Dawn are also preys of the predator society. Albert is successful in dismantling his external persona – that which is presented to the outside world – as he liberates himself from the Brad. However, as he goes beyond his ego, he sees Brad as a vulnerable being he can connect with: “… or did you bond me to the Brad”. He also accepts the reasons for the coincidences in his life. Albert’s “other” Tom, rejects the external label of himself as a firefighter. He says: “I’m not a hero … I’m an Albert”. Like Albert, he steps through the persona and ego and extends his infinite nature as he takes his bike to work and discusses environmental issues: “I thought we were talking about petroleum”. Like Albert and Tom, Dawn also receives pressures within society where she must hold a pleasant outward appearance. As she lets go of this hold, the fragmenting of her conscious and getting down to her true self leads her to asking: “You can’t accept my infinite nature can you?” Her shadow is finally projected and she is rejected by society. Albert, Tom and Dawn reject their outside labels and become less opaque. Although this letting go causes them to be marginalized, this only means that each of them is closer to his/her core of being.
While everything is connected, humans are free agents who are individually responsible for personal experience, only those such as Albert, Tom and Dawn, who courageously aim for the core of being and go through the manure, can find magic and true fulfillment. Albert finds connection in everything: between creation and destruction, between Brad and himself. Tom and Dawn discover their own infinite and share with each other. Each character’s unconscious psyche is unique. However, as it contains raucous things that cause societal rejection, once reached and overcome, it can be rewarding.
“Abstract art” is a visual representation of emotions, which are aroused by external events. These external events cannot be specified as they vary from one’s point of view to another’s. On the other hand, they are also connected to each other: “reality is not figure and void; it is all relationships, a twinkling field of interdependent events” (Hughes). These interdependent events form raw emotion, especially in artists who are born to express. Strong emotions do not appear out of thin air, as Pablo Picasso says: “There is no abstract art. You have to start with something.” Likewise, strong emotions do not vanish in thin air. Genuine emotion and careful thought and planning, are both the fundamental aspects of abstract art.
When a visual artist perceives a certain event to be influential, he or she may find that the most effective way to express this influential moment is through “abstract art”. For example, in Abstract –Expressionism, the artist’s work is complete only when the idea and experience of painting are complete. The purpose in this is to successfully convey the artist’s feelings and to create an event, rather than a picture on a canvas. The artist must therefore avoid pretensions in order to reveal his or her emotions. Another example is seen in Cubism, where in Picasso’s work, “everything is staked on sensation and desire” (Hughes). “His aim was not to argue coherence but to go or the strongest level of feeling” (Hughes). The artist must allow energy to flow freely through the medium. For instance, Picasso has stated once: “… painting is stronger than me; it makes me do what it wants” (Hughes). The process of creating art that defines emotion should focus around line and texture that create new kinds of ideas, rather than realistic, pre-existing organic forms.
Like poetry in literature, abstract art is an aesthetic expression that transcends the materialistic perception of things by means of metaphor and ambiguity. With the use of metaphor, Picasso “…crammed layers of meaning together to produce flashes of revelation” (Hughes). Due to Picasso’s close relationships that tended to be with poets and writers (Hughes), he has become influenced to creating art which transcends in time. Picasso’s transcendental art is based on external emotions ultimately caused by external events. Thus, into different interpretations are supplied by different spectators.
Little Johnny goes to his dad and asks, “What is politics?” Dad says, “Well son, let me try to explain it this way. I’m the breadwinner of the family, so let’s call me Capitalism. Mommy is the administrator of the money, so we’ll call her the Government. We’re here to take care of your needs, so we’ll call you The People. The nanny, well, consider her The Working Class. Your baby brother, we’ll call him The Future. Now go think about this and see if it makes sense.”
So the little boy goes off to bed thinking about what Dad has said. Later that night, he hears his baby brother crying and runs to his room only to find that his diapers are very soiled. So the little boy goes to his parents’ room. Mom is sound asleep. Not wanting to wake her, he goes to the nanny’s room. Finding the door locked, he looks through the peephole and sees his father in bed with the nanny. He gives up and goes back to bed.
The next morning, the little boy says to his father, “Dad, I think I understand what politics is now.”
"Good son, tell me in your own words then what politics are."
The little boy replies, “Well, while Capitalism is screwing the Working Class, the Government is sound asleep, the People are being ignored and the Future is in deep shit.”