Sunday, June 24, 2007

Cotton club

"Agricultural economists at the University of California, Davis, who conducted the study for Oxfam, found that a typical farm family of 10 in Chad, Benin, Burkina Faso or Mali — Africa's major cotton producers — that now earns $2,000 a year would have an extra $46 to $114 a year to spend if American subsidies were removed.

Oxfam, which has long campaigned for reductions in rich country agricultural subsides as a means to fight rural poverty in the developing world, said the added income would help families feed and educate millions of children. It maintained that Congress, now debating the farm bill that will set the rules for farm subsidies for the next five years, should cut cotton subsidies.

Dani Rodrik, an economist at Harvard who is skeptical of the importance of reduced agricultural subsidies, said he found Oxfam's new estimates credible, but said the gains forecast were relatively small. He said advocacy groups should be careful not to oversell them. Helping Africa's rural poor escape poverty will require a different set of economic strategies, he said. There is a need to foster a shift to the cultivation of higher-value crops and to develop industries, like garments and toys, that bring jobs."

Yasmine who sent me this article has asked me to remind you that you can post comments directly on the IHT site. Thanks Yasmine!

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