Tag Archives: development

How to start Sheep

6 Jun

From the Rural Living Handbook, Published by Mother Earth News. 115-116

It hardly pays to buy young lambs and feed them to adulthood for strong-flavored mutton. The trick, instead, is to raise your first lambs into adult breeders, then slaughter their offspring as fat, tender lambs. With an acre or two of pasture, a shade tree, a third of a ton of hay for winter and a handful of grain a day, a ewe lamb will mature in a year and, if bred, produce a lamb or two of her own, plus five to eight pounds of wool. After maturing on its mother’s milk and a little grain and graze, each of your new lambs will provide you with a wonderful fleece hide and around 50 pounds of delicious meat.
Continue reading

IFAD’s Cape Town meeting – presenting the Rural Poverty Report 2011

25 May

http://on.fb.me/m4TXXJ #rpr2011 #ifad #agchat
IFAD’s Cape Town meeting – presenting the Rural Poverty Report 2011

Biogas makes people not poor! For lights and cooking. These cost $260 to make, the Chinese government pays half.. See biodigestors in action in China.. a new socialist village: environmentally sustainable, socially harmonious. Anything done by small farmers in China makes a huge impact overall.. Over 8 million animals accounted for in that rural sector of the world. The scope of it blows my mind. There are fantastic testimonials and a good name behind it, IFAD (http://www.ifad.org/) OECD development pages. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCRps9Jnwbk #energy @OECDlive

…as long as fiscal tightening is recommended unemployment will hardly stop. The consumerism is sloppy if we don’t back our currency (US$) with real production. Instead of encouraging fiscal tightening, developed countries should thus encourage new routes to develop production markets. Vegetables, for one. Vegetables ship well at 1 and 1/8 bushel crates, can be made plentifully here in the United States, and are in global demand. Organic vegetables are another step that many farmers may want to take that ensures them a local market. Small industry, for another. Many of the parts that support small agriculture are freely available laying around the ruins of a former industrial tower.. Factories are now scrap-yards ready to make a new Economy. The industrial park, and JVS and small workshops, should not be left out of our #economic solution.

Small agriculture is doing much better this year in the United States than large monoculture farms. A wet Spring has most farmers behind already. The price of corn internationally is shown in a chart below:

Please consider what a dependence on cheap corn will mean if corn does badly this year, for the whole world we export grain to. The United States for it’s irresponsibility has left the world open to more food insecurity, even without the oil factor, from a bad season in Northern Ohio and the Central states. #Midwest, #Corn, #Sustainable. Meanwhile, at the organic farm we have 36 crops already and are busy every day. Most monoculture farms are big fields and nothing is planted yet. I find comfort knowing that my job every day provides food for Northern Ohio’s good and neediest families to eat a fresh variety of foods at a dependable price. #agchat

From the IAASTD, Scientific and Policy Vocabulary of What I Want to Do

18 May

Findings: IAASTD Summary for Decision Makers of the Global Report

16. Innovative institutional arrangements are essential to the successful design and adoption of ecologically and socially sustainable agricultural systems.
Sustainable agricultural production is more likely when legal frameworks and forms of association provide secure access to credit, markets, land and water for individuals and communities with modest resources. Creating market-based opportunities for processing and commercializing agricultural products that ensure a fair share of value addition for smallscale producers and rural laborers is critical to meeting development and sustainability goals.

17. Opening national agricultural markets to international competition can offer economic benefits, but can lead to long term negative effects on poverty alleviation, food security and the environment without
basic national institutions and infrastructure being in place.

20. Both public and private sectors can help advance development and sustainability goals.
Increased investments in AKST, particularly if complemented by supporting investments in rural development (for example, infrastructure, telecommunications and processing facilities) can have high economic rates of return and reduce poverty. AKST investments also generate environmental, social, health, and cultural impacts.

22. Achieving sustainability and development goals will involve creating space for diverse voices and perspectives and a multiplicity of scientifically well-founded options, through, for example, the inclusion of social scientists in policy and practice of AKST helps direct and focus public and private research, extension and education on such goals.
Some interpretations have been privileged over others and have helped push formal AKST along certain pathways, to the neglect of other scientifically sound options. Some of the by-passed options originate in traditional knowledge or civil society experience and may be better able to contribute to poverty reduction, social inclusion, equity and generate multifunctional outcomes.

A million little pieces: and building the art of perfection.

1 Dec


For those who can’t tell from the blog post history, I’m just about getting grounded here. Adjusting to Boston is hard, and adjusting to being [anonymous] again after a long sojourn in [Costa Rica] proved even harder. I came in lagging behind technology and friendships, which lost me the competitive edge at [Small Planet]. Most of my files for [Massachusetts Power Shift] are [lost in Panama], my [paid radio advertisements] there never returned results. But: despite technology, work, and communications failure, this has been one of my best semesters yet.

How? A hundred little failures means another year out of personal recession; another year avoided the mainstream dullness of small talk and classes, and a new resiliency that proceeds with the confidence of experience. Confidence, and decision making. Upon personal failure, one learns a perspective of infinite possibility and creativity. (as anyone who’s been [searching for a job] can attest.) Join me, for a post that is both revelatory and informing, revolutionary in a word and inspiring in its clarity.. What’s wrong and powerful reframes.
Continue reading

If I were an Anthropologist…

29 Jun

I would probably come study Cartago

Originally passing through for motorcycle repair, gas, and to see the church, I ended up staying the night when I met a mechanic who offered me passage for the night. What I found was a pleasant city almost devoid of alcohol or bad influence.

Continue reading

International assessment on Agriculture Knowledge, Science, Technology and Sustainability

12 Dec

This changes everything.

This April, an independent project involving over 400 full-time researchers and 58 countries published a report. The full scope of the report is enormous, but you can view the summary here:

Some excerpts, which may echo well with what I’ve been saying here. (In fact the same thing that I observed from the farm 3 years ago, and have since dedicated my life to preaching…)
Continue reading

International Trade doesn’t work for poor people

9 Dec

My mind was blown today with a critical fact of Economics.

Returns to scale are a market imperfection in competitive markets.

The entire theory of competition, markets, and trade is based on the assumption of constant or decreasing returns to scale. This concept defines all trade theory, and largely defines the policy that affects entire countries and allocation of the great bounty of the world’s resources.
But returns to scale are a fundamental aspect of international business. Returns to scale, the idea that cost is cheaper as a firm produces more, is what leads to giant consolidated multinationals, concentrated market power (and lobbying clout), and factory agriculture. These are the industries that dominate in foreign countries, the ones that can take advantage of returns to scale. In fact, when we tell developing countries to open themselves to foreign investment, it’s these types of industries that are built.

Governments acting for free trade is acting for industry.

Then we have returns to capital. The people who own more, are more likely to grow. What if allocation of resources is originally uneven? And information is uneven? That might lead to initial conditions being exaggerated in the form of country inequality: rather than poor countries being able to catch up they are already behind on the big scalable high-wage jobs.

What about comparative advantage? Poor people have no comparative advantage. There is no perfect awareness among non-Americans, as Winters et. al write “there is evidence that poorer households are less able to protect themselves or take advantage of positive opportunities by trade reform” (emphasis mine). Who produces these comparative-advantage goods? Savvy foreign entrepreneurs who CAN take advantage of opportunity. For them, they see cheap labor. And bring in technology that raises total country output/head. The poor not only lose what they were doing to import competition, but get unskilled, low wage jobs, the benefits of which go to capital owners and middle men who understand international systems, and their resources are used more intensively, not for them. Inequality is exaggerated (returns to scale, again) and most of the profit is siphoned into foreigners hands or reinvested in growth (capitalists are rarely satisfied to just make a profit). For what end does this growth aim? “Those that do benefit directly increase their input consumption, production, and consumption of goods and services.” The winners get to consume more. But CEOs and developed countries consistently score the saddest on international surveys! By making money, the poor remain a given (their wage will increase once everyone in the world’s does…) and externalize the things that do matter in the name of increased world consumption.

Jobs do not equal growth. Poor are not creators in capitalism. Those who earn more do not know happiness.

All free trade is based on fundamental assumptions. Decreasing returns to scale is one of them. In International Economics, everyone has perfect awareness of opportunities, and access to international demand if your idea is good enough. Unfortunately they’re stuck behind learning curves, and we tell them not to subsidize their domestic industry. This dynamic inequality impacts thousands of millions of people; the international flow of all goods and capital is based on a lie.

How can this fundamental feature be overlooked at phase 1 of Economic theory? How can the concepts of increasing returns to scale and market power be an oversight before any microeconomics graph is drawn? This changes everything.

I don’t know whether to cry or be angry at the institutions we’ve created. Thousands of people are starving, while their countries make exports for rich people. Poor people are told they can’t farm, because rich farmers and plantation owners are better at cutting costs. Poor people are not creators. And helping them isn’t profitable for business. Then we’d have to pay them more for our jobs.

-Eddie Miller
Boston University
A Global Organic Mindset: eddiemill.wordpress.com/