The south-north food flow has created willing foreign markets for African farmers, while home-grown goods aren’t getting to other Africans who are surviving on international relief aid flown in during food shortages.Spence's report was published in December 2012, but while the statistics he provides probably need updating; e.g., in 2012 "The EU absorbs about 40% of Sub-Saharan Africa’s agricultural exports," the story he tells is right on time. An academic he quoted made an observation that's as true today as it was in 2012:
“It is difficult to imagine the sense in the system because when we import, say, green beans from Kenya, we’re taking embedded water [aka 'virtual' water] from a drought-prone country, and then we’re putting into our supermarkets, into our fridges and then we’re throwing it way uneaten.”Given that this system is now in effect across all heavily populated human societies it's worse than nonsensical. Europe and other regions of the world have been staving off the inevitable consequences of over-urbanization and wasteful farming practices in their own lands by using water and arable land from other regions to feed themselves. And they're doing this without facing the fact that the regions they're using as food suppliers are just as wasteful in their farming practices and fast becoming just as urbanized.
Before Malthusians say, 'He told you so' -- did he? He could imagine mass starvation, but not what amounts to auto-genocide. The human race is hurtling toward that very fate because the vast majority of us have accepted a way of thinking that is now out of date. Here is the thinking:
Small-scale farmers, who comprise most of the world's farmers, have to produce enough on their farms to be able to afford to buy enough food to feed themselves and their families.
If you tell me I'm describing a crazy situation -- it sounds crazy only because I've clearly articulated it. But that's not how it's described by economists, governments, politicians, professors, or the news media. Instead, they speak of income from farming, they speak of the need to increase food exports and the need for more jobs in countries that need to be able to afford to import more food.
So let people eat jobs.
Doesn't sound nutritious? Then let us update our thinking by first recognizing that the nations that can't feed their own people are always at the mercy of events they can't hope to control.
From that viewpoint, much of what we've called 'development' during the past century is actually a regression. We've been pedaling backward at a furious pace and calling this modernization.