Millenium Village Project. The New York Times has been carrying a series of blog reports from Kararo, a Millenium Village Project in Ethiopia.
The Project’s approach toward fertilizer subsidies is a good case in point. In 2005, all fertilizer was given away, leading to a significant increase in food production. Fertilizer subsidies were then progressively rolled back; by last year, only 50% of the cost was covered. For the 2009 growing season, the project tried something new: farmers were given loans for fertilizer, but they are expected to pay back the full cost plus interest when the harvest comes. For many Koraro farmers, this is a daunting challenge. ... Many farmers... have chosen to scale back their farms, thereby requiring less fertilizer, rather than face enormous debts.
posted February 25, 2010 at 2:50 p.m.
Green Revolution in India. Two recent articles discuss the Green Revolution in India.
The Wall Street Journal goes with "Green Revolution in India Wilts as subsidies Backfire." "India has been providing farmers with heavily subsidized fertilizer for more than three decades. The overuse of one type—urea—is so degrading the soil that yields on some crops are falling. ... The government has subsidized other fertilizers besides urea. In budget crunches, subsidies on those fertilizers have been reduced or cut, but urea's subsidy has survived. That's because urea manufacturers form a powerful lobby, and farmers are most heavily reliant on this fertilizer, making it a political hot potato to raise the price."
The New York Times Letter from India opines, "Agriculture Left to Die at India's Peril." "Agriculture in this area, and in much of India, is dying. The village economy is in crisis, assailed by migration to the cities, decades of ecological neglect, and the growing unsustainability of farming. ... President Pratibha Patil called for “a second green revolution” to stem spiraling food prices and declining supplies. ... It’s not clear, however, how Ms. Patil’s goal can be achieved. The forces arrayed against Indian farming are formidable; they are part of the country’s great leap toward modernity."
posted February 25, 2010, 2:15 p.m.