How to Feed the Hungry: Development Economics

Image: FMSC Feed My Starving Children (FMSC)

Image: FMSC Feed My Starving Children (FMSC)
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I’ve been watching some of the excellent short videos in development economics at Marginal Revolution University.  This topic of development economics really is important, since it’s about how to feed starving people across the world.

Some key points:

1. Agricultural revolutions historically precede industrial revolutions

2. Land reform preceded the agricultural breakthroughs in Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.  Land was taken from landlords and given to many smaller famers.

3. Norman Borlaug, an American scientist, was fundamental in the ‘Green Revolution’ which helped to feed millions in south Asia and Mexico.  He brought American ideas in farming first to Mexico, then to much of South Asia:  He brought higher yielding, stronger crops, together with better fertiliser, and application of large scale business practices to growing food.  In the 1960s and 1970s this brought very large gains in cereal production to Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan, Kenya, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey and Thailand.

4. Infusing food with Micronutrients are seen as one of the most promising ideas in development economics.  Iodine (especially iodised salt), iron, and vitamin A are seen as the most important micronutrients lacking in the developing world.  They can cheaply be added to food.

5. since early 1990s there has been a slowdown in productivity of global agriculture.  Perhaps we as a globe have already taken the low hanging fruit in agriculture.

Don’t forget to check out my own aid work efforts at Microjointventures.

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