How can we feed the world and still save the planet?
Keeps the state subsidy but shift into organic, Indonesia has began
A news report below is re-posting due to column size available to narrow to load all texts of my respond, as seen :
www.guardian.co.uk 21 January 2011
How can we feed the world and still save the planet?
Underinvestment and market failures have trapped many countries in a vicious cycle of low productivity and exposure to price hikes, says Olivier de Schutter, the UN special rapporteur on the right to food
Food has become subject to one of the sharpest global debates, with rising anxiety about how the world's growing population is going to feed itself. Increasingly, Olivier de Schutter, the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, is establishing himself as one of its key protagonists with an unapologetically radical agenda.
In London this week to give evidence to a UK parliamentary working group on food and agriculture, he explained the challenge he is putting to the donors and the international community.
Chronic underinvestment in agriculture over the last 20 years combined with trade liberalisation has trapped many developing countries in a vicious cycle of low agricultural productivity and dependence on cheap food imports, he argues. The one exacerbates the other as local farmers struggle, and fail, to get a decent price for their produce in competition with imports, which have often benefited from government subsidies.
Local farming goes into steep decline leading to migration to the cities. This is a serious market failure.
Faced with large hungry (and often jobless) urban populations, government policy is driven by the need to keep food cheap at all costs or risk political instability, such as the rioting seen recently in countries such as Algeria.
"In the short term, lower import tariffs to let in food ensure urban populations are fed, but in the long term it is a disaster because local farmers can't compete," says de Schutter, adding that cheap food imports make the country extremely vulnerable to price hikes in the global markets – such as those we are now seeing.
"Since the early 1990s, the food bills of developing countries have increased by five- or six-fold," says de Schutter. "This addiction to cheap food leads to balance-of-payments problems and then political instability. It deprives countries of their abilities to feed themselves."
This situation has skewed the politics of countless countries where the priority has been to maintain calm in urban areas while squeezing any value they can from farmers. Farmers are marginalised politically and become increasingly poor, further accelerating the migration to cities.
Donors are finally recognising the need to invest in agriculture, but the danger is that they put money into monoculture cash crops for export, a strategy that that has no impact on improving food security for the poorest, argues de Schutter.
Another major mistake being made by donors, he adds, is to offer inputs to farmers such as subsidised fertiliser. This works in the short term but is not sustainable in the longer term because the price of fertilisers are linked to the rising price of oil, and the urgent task is to decouple agriculture from oil.
The environmental challenge is huge. "A third of all greenhouse emissions come from agriculture, so we need to focus our efforts on an agriculture which does not degrade the soil and which increases carbon capture," he explains, adding that he will be presenting a paper on agroecology to the UN Human Rights Council in March.
He wants donors to move away from the model of subsisidised fertilisers and seeds – which he calls "private goods", to supporting "public goods" such as better infrastructure, strengthening local markets, ensuring access to credit and building storage capabilities. Much of this needs farmers to organise themselves to really bring benefits to rural areas.
"Farmers' co-operatives emerged from the bottom-up in the 90s, and they now need to move up the value chain into processing and packaging. Farmers can get a better price if they organise together. And if they are organised, then governments have to engage with them. Farmers need a greater voice in the political process otherwise they don't get consulted and are cheated," he says.
But he acknowledges that this is not always a popular message. In many countries governments are wary of a strong, well-organised farmers' co-operative movement that could threaten their strategy to feed urban populations.
The challenge is huge because in the last 25 years state agricultural extension services have been dismantled, largely at the behest of structural adjustment programmes, and farmers have been left to fend for themselves. To increase productivity and introduce agroecology techniques in places such as sub Saharan Africa requires institutions that can disseminate knowledge into remote rural areas. This is no easy task.
Finally, de Schutter has one other urgent recommendation. The G20 in May will be considering measures to manage food-price volatility and he believes that food reserves are an essential tool.
"My view is that food reserves could be used to support the income of farmers, buying at a good price and then make food affordable during times of rising prices. If a food reserve is well managed and transparent, it could limit volatility and secure incomes," he says.
He points out that China now has huge food reserves in wheat, maize and rice that can shield the population from price spikes. There are ongoing negotiations to arrange regional collaboration across south-east Asia and to mutualise national food reserves. Similar discussions took place last December in West Africa. The G20 must put greater impetus behind such regional co-operation.
my respond, Mon, Jan 24, 2011
Keeps the state subsidy but shift into organic, Indonesia has began
He wants donors to move away from the model of subsidised fertilisers and seeds – which he calls "private goods", to supporting "public goods" such as better infrastructure, strengthening local markets, ensuring access to credit and building storage capabilities. Much of this needs farmers to organise themselves to really bring benefits to rural areas. Thus the passage of the UN special rapporteur statement on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter.
I want to give some comments based on my experience to review the fertilizer subsidy in Indonesia State budget. I hope the information below can be input for Olivier De Schutter is currently preparing a paper on agroecology to the UN Human Rights Council in next March.
First, I quote a statement of Professor Bustanul Arifin (2010): agricultural subsidies would not concern the mechanistic system of state administration in the context of "input-process-output", but is much broader than that. Because of agricultural subsidies (plus other budget allocations) in agriculture is a systematic attempt to build the conditions or enabling environment for farmers and other economic actors to grow and develop. Indeed, in neoclassical economic theory was, subsidies and agriculture is a form of budget and pro-state intervention to improve market structure, distortions and inefficiency occurs on the allocation of agricultural resources.
In the Indonesian context (of the G-33 in negotiations in the WTO Agreement on Agriculture), since 2008 the state budget share of fertiliser subsidy as part of the Public Service Obligation (PSO) into two categories, namely chemical fertiliser and organic fertiliser. The state subsidy of organic fertiliser was around 345 000 tons in the fiscal year 2008, and 450,000 tons in 2009 the which, if converted 0.5 tons per hectare as calculated by the minister of agriculture (2008), it would be 690 000 hectares in 2008 and 900 000 hectares in 2009. Source of subsidies is on the subsidy budget expenses and other expenditures in the Ministry of Finance. PSO year 2011 budget amounts based on the Joint Circular of the Minister of Finance and Head of Bappenas (the national planning board) is Rp 19.42 trillion, consisting of: (1) fertiliser subsidies amounted to Rp 16.56 trillion, (2) seed subsidy by Rp 1.86 trillion, (3) Credit subsidies Food Security and Energy Program (CTF-E) of Rp 429.7 billion, (4) Risk Sharing CTF-E amounting to Rp 147.7 billion, (5) Credit Subsidy Bio Energy Development and Plantation Revitalization (KPEN-RP) of Rp 138.5 billion, and (6) Business Credit Subsidy on cattle breeding (KUPS) of Rp 288 billion. Subsidies chemical fertilisers and organic fertiliser and seed subsidy is a subsidy is also given to five state-owned company chemical fertiliser producers in 2010, nonetheless has begun to target fertiliser subsidies channeled directly to farmers - which in 2009 were totally 17.83 million (14.99 million in rice farming, grow corn 6.71 million, 1.16 million grow soybean, and sugarcane planters 196.000). At least, 3 state-owned chemical fertiliser manufacturers began to produce organic fertiliser in 2008. Some example: allocation subsidised organic fertilisers in 2010 with demand for decomposer reached 10,672,104 Kgs, and biofertilisers 533.605 Kg - all directed to 1,778,683 hectares rice fields in 8 provinces; meanwhile the total harvested rice area in 33 provinces in 2009 were the totally 12,668,989.00 hectares. But Riza V. Tjahjadi (2010) cautioned that in the seed industry in the scope of the state-owned company has been working with seed transnational corporations, which in turn is providing subsidies to the 2 state-owned enterprises will also flow into the pockets of TNCs.
Although the subsidy is reduced to Rp184, 8 trillion (from Rp 201.3 trillion in the Budget Amendment 2010), which consists of energy subsidies Rp133, 8 trillion and non-energy subsidy of Rp51 trillion, but organic fertiliser subsidy increased from 2008 to 2011. Food subsidy was increased to Rp15, 3 trillion (from Rp 13.9 trillion in APBN-P 2010), mainly to implement the Program Rice for the Poor (Raskin). Fertiliser subsidy was reduced to Rp16, 4 trillion (from Rp18, 4 trillion in APBN-P 2010 but the portion organic fertilisers increased), namely reduced seed subsidy of Rp100 billion (from Rp2, 3 trillion in APBN-P 2010). Reduction of agricultural input subsidies which are very vital, as the question man in the street, because the government has declared will try to reach self sufficiency in food for the five strategic commodities: rice, corn, soy, sugar, and beef.
The government's commitment to agriculture posture reflected in the state budget. Ministry of Agriculture received Rp 16.8 trillion in the fiscal year 2011, up about 88.8% of fiscal year 2010. In order to optimise the benefit principle of the budget, the Ministry of Agriculture including 1 of 6 Ministries / Institutions of State designated as pilot projects in the fields of budgeting reforms since 2010.
More specific for the developing organic agriculture there is also the addition of the budget in the state budget, which budget the Special Allocation Fund (DAK), Division of Agriculture that entered into the Budget County / City. As an illustration, in 2010, DAK in Agriculture was Rp 1.54 trillion for 354 regencies/districts. DAK in the 2011 Agricultural Fund is to finance activities: (1) the provision of land and water management infrastructure (food crops, horticulture, and plantation, animal husbandry), (2) construction/ rehabilitation Center of Agricultural Extension (BPP) at the sub-district level, (3) the construction of barns and storage of food reserves, (4) infrastructure hatchery / nursery crops, horticulture, plantation and livestock breeding, and (5) Infrastructure for Animal Health Post (poskeswan) and cattle artificial insemination (AI), and (6) organic fertiliser processing unit (UPPO).
But for me (RVT), which promotes organic farming since 1989 believes the drastic change from the green revolution model that relies on chemical inputs and improved seed is transformed into a small scale Cuban model through State Budget since 2008 has the right track. One of my obsessions in the near future is to seek the return of State for political commitment of national fertiliser should be placed on the grand design is to optimise the use of organic fertiliser. Organic fertilisers can be made by modern fertiliser industries (state-owned and private companies), but can also be developed through independent cottage industry that can be done by the farmers/ farmer groups themselves with technical guidance and granting capital. Thus, organic fertiliser to improve soil structure is critical due to excessive use of chemical fertilisers, and can reduce the burden of subsidies and scarcity of chemical fertilisers. Please note that a commitment has been agreed by parliament and the government at a hearing (RDP) Commission VI of the House of Representatives together with Deputy Minister for State Enterprises on Agro Business, Industry, Agriculture, Forestry, Paper, Printing and Publishing, and the Director General of Domestic Trade Department of Commerce, included the state-owned fertilisers on February 19, 2009, but unfortunately failed to realise by State in the 2010 budget also the on-going Budget 2011.
Riza V. Tjahjadi
Biotani & Bahari Indonesia
PS: More information: http://biotaniindonesia.blogspot.com/
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It should be noted, Mon, Jan 24, 2011 currency rate 1US$ = Rp 8,900.
Jakarta, 25 January 2011