IMF, World Bank, China: No free lunch — Part Two…Africa’s agronomy being stifled by US


THE general impression given by the media that Africans are starving because of location, poor climatic conditions and war, among other infamies, is completely false in the sense that, Africa is perhaps the most fertile continent.
In fact, our lands are the most productive and we are not as lazy as some people think.
Africa produces more than enough food to feed the entire continent.
Our only problem and the main reason people continue to starve in Africa today is that much of the food we produce in Africa ends up on some dinner plates in the West.
He who controls the land and seeds controls food production and also, security.
Despite the fact that Africa produces so much food, most countries in Africa import much of their food from abroad at high prices every year.
We get loans from the World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as well as developmental aid in the form of money from the G8 nations but have to use all that money to import food from abroad at high prices every year. In the US, Agricultural Secretary John Block indicates that: “The idea that developing countries should feed themselves is an anachronism from a bygone era.
They could better ensure their food security by relying on US agricultural products, which are available, in most cases at lower cost.”
American agricultural subsidies have ensured that the US agro sector remains afloat while sinking the agricultural sectors of smaller countries.
In fact, when these agricultural sectors sink, guess who is there to pick up the pieces — the good old US, with its food aid.
The northern parts of Ghana were famous for the prosperous rice farming communities and the government of Ghana used to give those rice-producing farmers some farming subsidies to enable them produce rice on a large scale to help feed the nation.
However, the WB and the IMF stepped in and, as part of conditions to receive loans, the Ghanaian Government had to cut the farming subsidies and the only alternative was to import rice from Western countries such as the US (a major partner of the WB and the IMF).
Now Ghana has a high import bill.
The money it received as loans did not really remain in the country.
Part of it was used to import the rice, a recurring expense.
At the end of the day, Ghana owes the WB and the IMF huge amounts of money.
Meanwhile, the rice-producing communities in Ghana could have helped produce enough rice to feed the nation (and even export some abroad to make more profit).
Now, the northern communities in Ghana remain the poorest in the country, with no better jobs and no opportunities at all in most parts.
Boys and girls, some as young as nine, were forced to migrate to the southern parts of the country’s major cities and towns such as Kumasi and Accra in search of jobs so they can take care of their poor families back home.
In 2002, the then Malawian President, Bakili Muluzi, accused the IMF of forcing Malawi to sell its grain reserves just before a devastating drought, resulting in untold suffering in the country.
The IMF is said to have instructed Malawi to sell maize from strategic reserves to enable repayment of commercial debts. The National Food Reserve Agency of Malawi ended up selling almost all of its grain and when the drought hit the country, there were no reserves to cushion the country, leaving around three million people exposed.
Another case study is Argentina.
Argentina was considered by the IMF to be a model country in its compliance to policy proposals by the Bretton Woods institutions.
However, it experienced a catastrophic economic crisis in 2001, which was caused by IMF-induced budget restrictions. These austerity measures undercut the Government’s ability to sustain national infrastructure in crucial areas such as health, education and security.
The IMF intervened to ensure its loans would be repaid and enforced a set of reforms to achieve this.
Argentina was ordered to structurally change their economy to concentrate on exports in order to raise enough money to pay off their debts.
Argentina was forced to remove all barriers to foreign trade and enter the global market this resulting in the collapse of many local Argentine companies, as economically, Argentina was not ready.
Argentina was forced to request further loans to feed its population, which actually led to nationwide looting in 2001. In December 2001 on the verge of economic meltdown Argentina defaulted on its US$93 billion debt.
Interestingly, the IMF, in June this year, said it would be lending Argentina US$50 billion, part of which conditions include reducing the fiscal deficit – the gap between Government spending and revenue.
For those of us who do not speak financial and economics lingo, it simply means Argentina will be forced to cut Government jobs, maybe salaries, cut social spending and sell off some assets (privatisation), as well as open up any reserved sectors to foreigners, among other austerity measures.
The long quotation below is accredited to Lawrence H. Summers, chief economist of the World Bank, in an internal memo dated December 12 1991.
Summers went on to become the US Treasury Secretary in the Bill Clinton administration, as well as president of Harvard University:
“Just between you and me, shouldn’t the World Bank be encouraging more migration of the dirty industries to the less-developed countries (LEDs)?… I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that… I’ve always thought that underpopulated countries in Africa are vastly under-polluted, their air quality is probably vastly inefficiently low compared to Los Angeles or Mexico City…The concern over an agent that causes a one in a million change in the odds of prostrate cancer is obviously going to be much higher in a country where people survive to get prostrate cancer than in a country where under 5 mortality is 200 per thousand… The problem with the arguments against all of these proposals for more pollution in LDCs (intrinsic rights to certain goods, moral reasons, social concerns, lack of adequate markets, etc.) could be turned around and used more or less effectively against every Bank proposal for liberalisation.”
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