Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Fragile food

"This “marketization” of agriculture has not, to be sure, been fully carried through. Subsidies are still endemic in rich countries and poor, while developing countries often place tariffs on imported food, which benefit their farmers but drive up prices for consumers. And in extreme circumstances countries restrict exports, hoarding food for their own citizens. Nonetheless, we clearly have a leaner, more market-friendly agricultural system than before. It looks, in fact, a bit like global manufacturing, with low inventories (wheat stocks are at their lowest since 1977), concentrated production (three countries provide ninety per cent of corn exports, and five countries provide eighty per cent of rice exports), and fewer redundancies. Governments have a much smaller role, and public spending on agriculture has been cut sharply.

The problem is that, while this system is undeniably more efficient, it’s also much more fragile. "

Nice article in the New Yorker (Thanks Leila)

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