Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Indian Infrastructural Bottleneck: Frustration for the Green Revolution

Paul Fischer
3/21/2017
Teaching Assistant Jeremy Romanul
Professor Katlyn Morris

The Indian Infrastructural Bottleneck: Frustration for the Green Revolution


The success of the Green Revolution was a moment of relief for humanitarian efforts across the globe as advances in agricultural technology allowed for the end to world hunger to momentarily be in sight. Even though global food production possibilities could still feed almost twice as many people as forecasts from previous decades expected, infrastructural bottlenecks in economic market systems continue to contribute to regional and domestic shortages. The globalized agrofood system will be examined locally as narrow interpretations of the right to life are disregarded to embrace the actuality of international treaties, covenants and commitments responsible parties including corporate entities and national governments and the implications for a larger view of effective solutions.
Use of Eastern India as a regional example of effective solutions in need of committed commodity control and redistribution will be an example of food systems in food sovereignty and food security (Morris, 101). One fundamental part of food security is the structural investment and the sources it comes from. The efficacy of public investment to open up new farmland and to allow development of private endeavors has been hotly contested. While it may appear at a first glance that private investment is growing at an adequate pace to address hunger issues in the region, microeconomic analysis has shown that in fact globalization and trade factors confound the apparent trend, and these stimuli offset the failure in certain regions of private investment to cover all of the costs associated with an optimal economic outcome (Rao, 1944).
In Latin America a movement known as La Via Campesina, characterized by “local autonomy, local markets, local production-consumption cycles, energy and technological sovereignty and farmer-to-farmer networks” (Morris, 145), has accomplished many of the goals that would sustain the goals of food sovereignty efforts in Eastern India. The difference between these and larger-scale efforts to provide adequate funding lies in the intensity of land use; increases in food supplied to local populations are estimated in the regions where the peasant and small-farmer organization is active by between two hundred and one thousand percent. Macro-steps to accomplish the same goals have been stunted in India after decades of positive change. That is not to argue the primacy of the status quo over the precedent, but instead the inferiority of the status quo to the optimal scenario of secure food resources in the region under discussion.
Recapturing the data which determines the co-ordination between public and private sector and reallocates the business which was eaten up during the rapid expansion of global trade during the 90s reveals a very close relationship between the two forms of investment. It can be taken in turn, then, that continued erosion of the sources of public funding could lead to a critical minimum that sees all forms of investment collapse into failure in the region. In order to avoid this outcome multiple steps have been taken, best classified as autonomous adaptation (Morris, 115). The transient nature of the steps which have been taken to establish such food sovereignty predicate a distinction from planned operations. The natural conclusion of whether the gains which have been made in other regions are applicable to Eastern India requires attention towards energy policy to be evaluated for practical application.
The two primary factors can be used to gauge the efficacy of measures are comprised of productivity and poverty alleviation. In these measures energy security can be seen as having a similar tradeoff identified in terms of agricultural functions (Rao, 1947). A distinct discrepancy between sustainable technological progress can be found between regions affected by excessive ratios of private investment to public investment. While some technologies, notably buses and clean water pumps, are beneficial to the environment in the region, many others are not and may not develop adequately in regions without adequate public investment.
Less intensive agricultural development also means greater overall land use, a premise that leads to Protected Area evictions and other negative outcomes or external costs for the public sector. One way to optimize outcomes would be to improve the praxis between engineers and the general public (Morris, 183). This is a way to address the examples identified by microanalysis of regions while also expanding the technical skills and profit margins of private interests into regions buoyed by the benefits of trade more fully. It can also address potential degradation of the land from overly intensive agriculture: a prime example of agricultural degradation can be found in the declining fish stocks of the Tonle Sap region in Cambodia (Morris, 185). That also demonstrates the inter-connectivity between energy and agricultural security.
The implications for agriculture do not finish with agricultural security as a result of greater facilitation between engineers and energy interests, but also extend into direct benefits for energy security as a result of intensive agriculture as well. While biofuel is not recognized as an effective solution to energy problems, in some areas development of effective mixtures can make the difference between costly shipments of fuel and near or complete energy independence. Investments in agricultural technology in India have lead to anticipated blends of 20% biodiesel and bioethanol fuels though that technology is expected to increase food imports by 5%, and food prices by .2% in accordance with the elasticity of the market. This will give a new meaning to burning the crops. More importantly the expected price of fuel is expected to change by a significant nearly 5%, making the overall equation a massive winner in the regions which benefit from the new technology, priced at around 20 billion dollars a year of private sector research investment currently (Gunatilake).
The tradeoffs and rewards which are offered by economic cases need to be handled by experts on an individual basis. Corporations and nations no longer have a choice to make mistakes in this field. In order to see the region transform for social justice and for agricultural and energy security, the effects must be taken as a sum of economic and environmental goals that neither macro approaches embodied in Eastern India nor micro approaches seen in Latin America properly address alone. Together they produce a veritably optimal outcome.


References:
Gunatilake, H., Roland-Holst, D., & Sugiyarto, G. (2014). Energy security for India: Biofuels, energy efficiency and food productivity. Energy Policy, 65, 761-767.
Morris, Katlyn S. (2015). International Environmental Studies. Cognella, University of Vermont.
Rao, C. H. (1998). Agricultural growth, sustainability and poverty alleviation: recent trends and major issues of reform. Economic and Political Weekly, 1943-1948.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Urban Farmer

Paul Fischer
3/21/2017
Teaching Assistant Jeremy Romanul
Professor Katlyn Morris

Karen Washington and Co-ops in Urban Areas

Urban areas such as the lower Bronx are facing a crisis in food system technology. The problem is not supply, the home of Karen Washington is located next to one of the largest suppliers of fresh fruits, vegetables, and other food products in the country, but instead of access. A number of policies, infrastructural and systemic, have seen the obesity crisis in urban areas reach a critical point in urban communities across the country outlined by the entrepreneur in a recent speech hosted by the University of Vermont at the Silver Maple Ballroom in the Davis Center. This was a presentation that spoke to me personally, as I had seen a similar effort in Montreal thrive in the once depressed Lionel-Groulx area. It is now a hotspot not just for community organic food systems and social justice programs, but also hipsters, musicians, and students.
By laying out what was at stake, diseases from heart disease to diabetes that develope at least partially as a consequence to sedentary lifestyles and obesity and then showing a successful action plan which had helped introduce a healthier manner of living in the Lower Bronx, students at the University of Vermont were able to take home a strong lesson in community planning and action. The latter of those ailments currently kill 200,000 people a year, nearly half of which are preventable, a statistic which was pointed out in the presentation. Also referenced was the estimated cost of the dramatic rise in diabetes which could see that number rise 5 to 10 fold in the coming generation. While the trends are geographical, the increase has not been and the crisis affects nearly the entire country. Digging a little deeper revealed, that because the disease involves many other disorders and affects patients for most of their life, that the estimated costs are currently nearly half a trillion dollars (almost the same size as all organized crime in the country for reference), and if action is not immediately taken, could swell to a quarter of the overall American economy (Hex, 858).
La Familia Verde Community Garden Coalition helped kickstart City Farms Market, which became the first inner city farm of its nature. Following this early success, Karen Washington was able to buy almost a couple dozen square miles upon which a full scale farm entered into operation. One notable challenged posed by local law enforcement which was overcome was a prohibition of the cultivation of bumblebees for honey due to their reputation as ferocious animals, illegal according to city ordinances intended for such creatures as lions and tigers.
That wide and, one might ironically say, vicious interpretation of the law of the land reminded me of a similar investigation into the cultivation of pigs near a subway station in Montreal. Unfortunately, that is a battle which still has to be fought, though I remember from a couple of years back, having checked out the relevant legislation when it came up in an unrelated legislative investigation into urban city ordinances, that it should be one which has a fair chance of success as well. At the time that legislation was passed, in the 1800s, cattle and other livestock were prohibited from inside city boundaries due to the actuality of collision with carriages and cutting edge research into microbiology that suggested the city’s sewage systems were woefully inadequate to deal with even the necessary horse traffic and human waste. Obviously, the prohibition was intended to be a mitigating factor with no relevance in the modern world.
Questions and answers brought up some more of the social justice issues and the geographical distribution problems of the obesity crisis. Other agricultural concerns such as the recent legalization of marijuana which has seen farmers become wealthy while .7% of the prisoners in jail who were incarcerated during prohibition were predominantly minorities also came up. This brought the question of affirmative action to the business world in a unique fashion. Finally, free Ben and Jerry’s was offered as an example of how investments in recreation can sometimes offset an indulgence, such as the flavor Maple Blondie that honored Vermont Olympian Hannah Teter. Such promotions both promote interest in athletics and in that case also provided clean water to her hometown in Kenya.

References:
Hex, N., et al. "Estimating the current and future costs of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes in the UK, including direct health costs and indirect societal and productivity costs." Diabetic Medicine 29.7 (2012): 855-862.

Washington, Karen. “Presentation at the University of Vermont Silver Maple Ballroom” The University of Vermont (2017).