You can't feed the world.

Discussion in 'Business & Economics' started by wesmorris, May 5, 2004.

  1. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

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    With all the holes in the supply chain, it's simply unrealistic to assert "we could feed the whole world".

    Throw a gazillion dollars at it, and people still go hungry, whilst people along the supply chain get fat, the dollar devalues, blah blah.

    There are a whole bunch of reasons I think this is true, the most prominent being the subjectivity of demand, which translates partially into corruption.

    In other words, you can't force your opinion on to those who don't share your opinion and a lot of people don't give a shit if someone down the supply chain eats/has shelter, whatever.

    I respect the blind nobility in the desire to feed everyone, but I think the idea of doing so is simply unreastic. Ultimately, people have to feed themselves.

    On a side note I might ask: Is feeding everyone a good idea? Certainly I don't want to be on the starving people's list, nor do I wish it upon anyone, but with food comes more people, which becomes a bigger feeding everyone problem.

    I don't think this is pessimistic at all actually, as it's really just an analysis of the system I see, knowing what I know about logistics (I'm an IE you know) and noting human nature as it is, rather that some ideal.

    Please discuss.
     
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  3. GuessWho A Californian Registered Senior Member

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    wesmorris,

    Can you at least try to assume that some people like myself are ignorant to acronym? I had to go to acronym.com to find out what IE means. There is a long list but for now I am guessing that IE stands for Information Engineer.

    Anyway, I agree with you that we cannot feed the whole world but if possible, feeding as many as possible is the most noble thing that we can do.
     
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  5. water the sea Registered Senior Member

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    This is a line from Dr. Phil, but painfully true, IMO: "Financial problems are not solved with money."

    That kind of logic can be used also when it comes to feeding everyone: "Food problems are not solved with food."

    To solve a problem, you need to remove the cause of it.
    The causes however, may be very complex or irremovable, and this is where it all begins to be so complicated, that it seems more feasible to simply give people food.
    Solving one problem this way, at least one new one problem gets created: African countries receiving help in food have exploded in population, and now they depend on the world to feed them, they cannot live by themselves anymore.
     
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  7. whitewolf asleep under the juniper bush Registered Senior Member

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    That's the thing, we can't feed. There are a number of ways we can give aid. One is loans to gov'ts, another is for gov'ts to sell a cash crop to the richer nations, another is for the poor country to host export platforms where its people would work. Loans, as experience shows, inevitably disappear due to corruption. Why? Human nature kicks in at the top of society, that's all. It is easy for corrupt leader to capture public liking in the poor countries. Raising a cash crop requires capital (begotten from where?), and is not the surest way because neighboring countries may compete or not want to cooperate. Why? It just happens. Export platforms naturally produce brain drain, inspite of difficulties for immigrants. Which still results in poverty. That's all.

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    Well, yes, situation can improve, but it will be a slow process. It seems as if the world looks to US for supplying all kinds of aid all over the place, but US can't do everything.

    I personally think it is first of all the responsibility of the poor countries to establish competent gov'ts before we even try feeding them. That's a very hard thing to do, many still aren't up to that point.
     
  8. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

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    I figured you'd look at my profile.

    *smirk*

    Hehe.

    Industrial Engineer. Okay now you have to ask "what is that?" hehe, uhm.. how to put it, basically we study "how to jack with any system of resource distribution' and 'manufacturing methods'.

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  9. GuessWho A Californian Registered Senior Member

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    wesmorris,

    Thank you for the clear explanation. By the way, acronym.com should be ashamed of themselves for not having Industrial Engineer listed because I would have picked it instead of guessing that you are an Information Engineer. But seriously, I should have thought of looking at your profile.

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  10. TruthSeeker Fancy Virtual Reality Monkey Valued Senior Member

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    What about the very simple act of teaching African people how to sow and reap, provided that they have both the land and the seeds?
    And if they don't want to feed themselves and they want us to feed them, then there's a very simple solution for that: ignore them. They will eventually accept the fact that they need to feed themselves, otherwise they just die.

    Simple enough. Hopefully?

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  11. Undecided Banned Banned

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    What about the very simple act of teaching African people how to sow and reap

    Exactly, giving them food is not going to solve hunger. They have to learn how to make their own food.
     
  12. whitewolf asleep under the juniper bush Registered Senior Member

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    Great idea. But most of other countries' research in agriculture is aimed at their own environment, while Africa's environment is very different. There are people that are involved in this, but little has been done and it takes time.

    Off-topic, but sitll... Uh-oh, teach them how to live! That's what US wants to do in Iraq. That's what US wants to do everywhere and the responce is usually hostile.

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  13. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    If I might just borrow you for a springboard to a link or two:

    • Hickey, Ellen and Anuradha Mittal. Voices From the South: The Third World Debunks Corporate Myths on Genetically Engineered Crops. FoodFirst.org. May, 2003. See http://www.foodfirst.org/progs/global/ge/sactoministerial/voices.php
    • Rosset, Peter M. "Cuba: A Successful Case Study of Sustainable Agriculture." Hungry for Profit: The Agribusiness Threat to Farmers, Food and the Environment. Magdoff, et al, ed. New York: Monthly Review Press, 2000. (pp. 203 - 213) See http://www.foodfirst.org/cuba/success.html

    Sometimes I think it's not an issue of "give a fish or teach to fish," but one of, "train to fish within the preferred profit scheme." The Voices report offers either the entire PDF or chapters; I recommend the whole, but the chapter titles are compelling enough for folks with slower connections or no particular desire to read the whole thing. (I still haven't read every page of the thing, and I've had it for a while.) Some folks aren't happy with the way multinational agricultural conglomerates and international political and economic influences influence the teaching or empowerment of fishing.

    Now, in Cuba, I need to check the numbers on how much the population (e.g. demand) declined in order to meet the available supply, but the "farming revolution" seems to have grabbed some people's attention. (See also, this link.) Sure, embargoes may have put Cuba back to the 18th century in some respects, but right now they're seeing much success.

    In terms of trying to teach folks to fish ... there's a 7-page PDF download (396kb) on a UN development program launched in 1999 that dovetails nicely with the Cuban farming scheme. It includes things like urban recycling, potable water supply, jobs for women, enterprise development, disease control, basic manufacturing (e.g. construction materials), herbal medicine (seriously!) and even geographical and topographical modeling for municipal planners.

    This is a far cry from the kinds of disasters courted by WB/IMF policies (see ICIJ. Cuba is vaguely acquainted with the 20th century, and has at least been introduced to the 21st, and while we certainly can't say, "Mission Accomplished!" about any sense or aspect of a Cuban recovery ... they're doin' alright. Things are looking up. The WFP seems to be having an easy time in Cuba at present.
     
  14. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

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    So you guys don't think they know how to "reap and sow" in Africa?
     
  15. water the sea Registered Senior Member

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    Africans know damn well how to sow and reap! Maybe even better than anyone else. But that environment there can support only small bushmen-like tribes, that's the thing.
     
  16. thefountainhed Fully Realized Valued Senior Member

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    Wesmorris,
    Knowing as much as you claim to do about supply chains and logistics, I do not then underestand how you would think that this is a supply chain issue. Supply chains owuld only come into consideration if the suggestion were that this country feed the world by providing the food itself. And even in this, it is logistically possible for this nation to manufacture the grains and meat that could feed the famine struck areas of the world. The only reason why it is practically impossible is quite simply that Agriculture is as much a buisness as any other, and in business, profit is the ultimate goal-- not morality.

    That said, it is also the capitalization of agriculture that ensures that the lot dies from hunger. It would make no sense that those who can only grow crops for themselves have to sell the very same crops to get life's other necessities. The problem of feeding the world's poor is also very specific to the region. Cultural practises that foster the the maginifcation of the poverty striken are prevalent in many many areas. Illiteracy plagues the poor, and iwll continue to plague th poor. The untililies that allow for better yields of crops require capital which farmers simply do not have. It is a fact of the prresent world that most land in areas that suffer from famine and the like are very poor due to agricultural practises that erode the rich soil. Take into that the subsidies that rich countries, especially this country provide to their farmers, etc etc. Trade.

    The next time you are drinking an orange juice, realize that someone is planting that instead of wheat because he makes money from that orange, and not because he does not want to eat. The elimination of the hungry starts first with trade agreements that donot favour one group oevr the other. That must follow with governments that can provide the necessary environments where specialists grow and the poor get education and the chance to pursue other specialization other than farming. Small plots that attempt to feed the entire family has been the norm in many parts of Africa for instance. In the present when the provision of goods is completely different, these small plots simply cannot work.
     
  17. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

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    I'm not exactly sure what I necessarily know, my claim is more that I've had to think about this type of problem a lot. I suppose that doesn't mean shit really, so...

    I have no idea why you would say that. Supply chain is from the point of need to the point of aquisition (of the raw material(s) to be processed into whatever), regardless of what country or whatever. If a bushel of wheat has to come from America to Africa, then that's the length of the supply chain (assuming that the seeds for the wheat came from the US). If the money for the wheat has to come from wherever, then that wherever is part of the supply chain as far as I'm concerned) What's your angle? A TON of aid is allocated to africa, all the time but it's my impression that it rarlely makes it to the people who need it. Even if the aid is just funds, that's still part of the supply chain IMO, as it is the resource required to procure the resources.

    LOL. Enough food is available right now to feed all of them. If it weren't for the leaky supply chain as I mentioned before, they'd probably all be quite well fed.

    How is that even remotely true, given that for instance $400 Billion in Iraq from the UN was diverted to palace building. I realize that's not in africa, but I'm assuming the same type of problem prevails. People somewhere along the line of funding for the procurement of the required resources decides that the funding should supply them rather that the intended people. Why is profit a problem? The aid money is as real as any other money and I'd guess the Ag industry is chomping at the bit for their slice of the pie.

    How do you reach that conclusion?

    Unless of course, they can grow more than they need and perhaps, sell the remainder in exchange for other things that they need, like better equipment or land to be able to produce yet more crops? Crazy talk eh?

    True enough.

    But if the supply chain weren't leaky, they'd recieve the intended aid and actually have some of that action. Further, their governments should strategically insist in this matter, such that it maximizes the yeild of its resources as a country.

    That's probably a good point. They know how to grow it, they just don't know how to make sure it can grow again later eh? I'll buy that.

    I don't see the connection.

    I'm well aware that people do what they think profits them.

    Doesn't any agreement favor the sweeter deal?

    Well okay sure, but how is kind of the problem don't you think? Of course they need the necessary environments, otherwise they wouldn't be considered necessary. The problem seems to be that the governments lack the resources, ability or motivation to do it.

    Okay.

    Okay.
     
  18. TruthSeeker Fancy Virtual Reality Monkey Valued Senior Member

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    Yeah.... that's pretty well said....
    Unfortunately, the only way that it seems to be possible to help poor people is by making education free or extremely cheap. But that requires some investiments from richer countries, which are not so willing to invest in Africa because of the risks (whichever those are...

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    ).

    Another thing that could be done is simply forgiving their debts. That way, they will be able to have economic growth. In Brasil, that's what always happen. We have so many debts (less then US) that we have to pay to the IMF, or whatever, that our economic growth is almost none. On top of that, our population growth is quite high, but the supplies gowth is not enough to catch up with the demand. No, wait. Maybe the last statement is not quite right. The suppiles of cars definetely meets the demand...

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    Still... most of our money goes to taxes, and most of the taxes goes to pay our national debt. In summary, our monmey simply keeps getting out of the country and that results in no economic growth and, thus, no meeting of the supply or demand. We simply don't have enough money, and we are stuck with the same old opportunity cost.

    My Economics course is helping quite a lot in this discussion...

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  19. TruthSeeker Fancy Virtual Reality Monkey Valued Senior Member

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    Also, why do WE have to pay our debts while the US pays nothing at all!?!?!?
    Maybe it is because the US owns the IMF...?

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  20. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

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    There is no opportunity cost for "not having money", as "not having money" isn't an action. There is an opportunity cost for "not figuring out how to make some money" perhaps.

    BTW: Does anyone have a link to show what the US does or doesn't pay toward their national debt? I tried to google for it but couldn't find the right keywords.
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2004
  21. Dr Lou Natic Unnecessary Surgeon Registered Senior Member

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    Yes, and so thats all it should have. Its very very simple.
    We are hurting them by interfering at all. They would naturally sort themselves out.
    Don't need to teach them anything.
    I guarantee they won't go extinct.
     
  22. thefountainhed Fully Realized Valued Senior Member

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    Firstly in agriculture, at the least at the fundamental of merely feeding people, the raw materials are the goods. The grain is the goal. A supply chain is involved if we talk of processing the food. With respect to money, unless you are talking of beureaucracy, it matters not.


    Yes, enough food is available right now. The problem some don't get fed has nothing to do with supply chain, but rather a desire for leisure. A McDonalds for instance is impossible were all food to be simply used to feed all.


    Firstly, whatever money was given to Iraq was given as an exchnage for oil, and the donators knew what the uses of the money were going to be! Besides, not many in Iraq were starving. Profit is a problem because on the world stage, in trade agreements-- this is one of the main problems by the way, it is the desire for profits that allow that one government subsidies its peoples whilst the other cannot. Subsidies by western governments to their farmers sometimes are more than the bloody GDP of some countries. Besides, money feeds noone. The issue is not money, especially when precedent allows that in most cases going to be abused.

    Imagine if food were grown merely for the sake of feeding people, or f most arable land was used for food. Do you think people in afghanistan would be growing poppy?

    Very crazy talk. Especially when you have to earn money so you can buy shit to make your pathetic soil grow any shit at all. The small plot farmer, who can only grow what he eats has always been fucked.

    Forget about supply chain. This is not an issue of logistics. The point of contact, or the consumer if you will, in the provision of aid is the government.

    They don't know how to make the land reach its full potential with the aid of technology that is both expensive and hard to use. Their current practises also abuse the soil.


    How do you not see the connection? If say the south american farmer is competing with the america farmer in the market for peanuts, and the american farmer through subsidies is able to purchase better equipment and therefore get better yield as well as better profits and a wider market due to lower prices, how do you think the south america farmer competes?

    Yes of course. But isn't the entire premise of feeding the needing based on morality and the auspicious guarantee of future productive mmbers of the world?


    That and a world environment that fosters that. The nail in the coffin is of course that for you enjoy all the leisre that provides that 40% of the adult population is overweight, current environment does insist that to some extent, some starve. It is quite silly.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2004
  23. TruthSeeker Fancy Virtual Reality Monkey Valued Senior Member

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    I guess our lack of opportunity cost comes from "not having money because the stupid shitty US stole all our money so that they can be rich and act like pigs for the rest of their lives without having to do anything at all"... :bugeye:
     

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