Accelerating Growth to End Poverty without Damaging the Environment

img17001There is consensus that extreme poverty and hunger must be eradicated by 2030 through accelerated, inclusive and equitable economic growth without damaging the environment. This calls for sustainable and integrated, balanced and simultaneous implementation of economic, social and environmental dimensions without one dimension gaining at the expense of others, as agreed at the Rio+20 Conference and confirmed at the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly, when world leaders met in New York City in September 2013.

This paradigm shift from economic growth and per capita income as a measure of development, and relying on a single-sector approach and trickle down mechanism, to an integrated, inclusive, equitable and labor-intensive multi-sector development agenda post-2015 will require a major shift in political will and in ways of doing business.

In agrarian societies where the majority of people live in extreme poverty and unemployment or under-employment, the acceleration of traditional methods of economic growth to create jobs and end hunger and poverty will mean enhancing agricultural methods of de-vegetating land and damaging the environment through biodiversity loss, soil erosion, dropping water tables, shrinking water bodies and adverse impact on thermal and hydrological regimes, resulting in intense and frequent droughts and floods.

On the other hand, introducing or speeding up intensive and mechanized agricultural methods using green revolution technologies of high-yielding seeds that require the application of high doses of fertilizers, pesticides and irrigation, including using underground salty water, will end up damaging the environment and reducing water supplies. This has already happened in some Asian countries.

In developed countries, continued or an acceleration of current patterns of consumption of meat and dairy products that rely on huge amounts of agricultural feed, and result in massive food waste, as well as increasing demand for non-food agricultural products like cut flowers, will mean that more land will be brought under cultivation by clearing vegetation or replacing food production in areas already under cultivation, as has happened in Uganda. Alternatively, more fertilizers, pesticides and irrigation will be used to increase land productivity, resulting in environmental pollution.

To overcome these trade-offs and successfully address unemployment, hunger and poverty, a new approach to production and consumption patterns is needed. The new approach should end food losses and waste, and apply labor-intensive methods rather than labor-saving machines. It should use a combination of organic and inorganic fertilizers and pesticides to boost productivity without damaging the environment.

In developing countries, much food, especially perishable produce like fruits and vegetables, is lost through pre-and post-harvest leakage. Controlling food-destroying birds, insects and wild animals before crop harvest and improving storage, including cold facilities and agro-processing after harvest, would go a long way in reducing food losses, thereby making more food available without applying environmentally destructive extensive or intensive agricultural methods. Degraded lands would be restored through labor-intensive re-forestation programs that would create jobs and raise incomes to pull people out of intergenerational extreme hunger and poverty.

Experiments by smallholder farmers in some African countries have shown that labor-intensive, environmentally and socially-friendly technologies such as crop rotation, terracing and contour farming, as in the Machakos district of Kenya, mixed cropping and mixed farming of crops and animals, zero grazing, small-scale irrigation and water harvesting schemes and fertilizer trees have boosted agricultural productivity and food availability and affordability, reducing hunger and poverty without damaging the environment.

Thus changing production methods, including mechanized agriculture, that are environmentally and socially-unfriendly and eliminating pre-and post-harvest food losses in developing countries and consumption patterns in developed countries, including massive food waste, would go a long way in creating needed jobs and making more food available and affordable, ending hunger and extreme poverty by 2030 without damaging the environment. However, this success will require changing political mind sets and ending business as usual in production and consumption patterns in the post-2015 development agenda.

Article originally published here
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Brazil Sets Record Trade Surplus of $48 Billion

brazil-coverBrazil’s trade surplus soared to a record U.S. 47.69 billion, the country’s trade ministry’s statistics revealed on Monday.

Amid political turmoil, a recession and a weaker real, exports boomed as imports were slashed in 2016. The previous record of $46.45 billion was in 2006, Reuters reported.

Brazil’s new record was more than double 2015’s trade surplus of $19.68 billion. Brazil’s 2016 exports totaled $185.24 billion, compared with imports worth $137.55 billion, according to the trade ministry.

The trade surplus occurred even though exports of many agricultural commodities fell, with the exceptions of pork and sugar, after a crippling drought devastated crops last year.

Corn grain exports fell the most, down 26 percent. Exports of soybeans dropped 8.2 percent, along with corn on the cob, which fell 13.2 percent compared to the previous year, the trade ministry said.

Soybean bran exports fell 11 percent, along with beef, down 7 percent and chicken, which decreased 5 percent.

However, pork exports increased 15 percent and exports of raw sugar increased 40 percent.

Brazil  posted hefty increases in semi-manufactured and manufactured goods, according to the trade ministry’s statistics.

Exports of gold ore increased 31 percent, while lumber jumped 17 percent.  Increases in exports of manufactured goods included: oil rigs, (87 percent), cars,  (38 percent), and cargo vehicles, 27 percent).

Brazil’s exports to China, its biggest buyer, slid 1.2 percent to U.S.  $37.4 billion due to the decrease in soybean exports, according to the trade ministry.  The U.S. was the second-largest customer, buying  $23.2 billion in exports from Brazil.  Argentina was third, at $13.4 billion.

The drop in ag exports contributed to a decline in exports to some regions, according to the trade ministry.  Although exports to Argentina were up 4 percent, exports fell to MercoSur, the Latin American trading bloc.  Countries in MercoSur include Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, and Paraguay. Venezuela was suspended as a member on Dec. 1 of 2016.

Article originally published here

IDB Backs Paraguay Agriculture, Economic Program

2015-06-10-1433961822-3928805-550pxpry_orthographic-svgParaguay will improve the competitiveness of its farm and livestock sector and its economic integration, particularly in the east of the country, with a road upgrade and conservation project backed by a $90 million loan approved by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

The beneficiaries will be users of the highway grid, especially small- and medium-size producers, and a population estimated at 522,000 people, of whom 76 percent live in the countryside.

The goal of upgrading and conserving roads is to improve travel conditions, the level of service and safety on motorways that are part of the program in a bid to cut transport costs, travel time and the number of accidents.

The stretches of road included in the project are part of a major logistical corridor that connects areas of production in the east of Paraguay with places that process, transform and market the country’s main export products, and with ports.

“The stretches of road that will be improved have been designed to be resilient to the effects of climate change, particularly heavy rain. Moreover, by improving the corridor with climate change considerations in mind, we will be strengthening the road network of the Oriental Region of Paraguay and consolidating a route that will be more resistant to flooding”, said Ernesto Monter, Project Team Leader of the IDB.

The works that are scheduled include the paving of a stretch of approximately 90 kilometers between San Juan Nepomuceno and Route 6, which is key to national and international integration as it connects the south-central part of eastern Paraguay, where 54% of farm production is concentrated, with the so-called Hidrovía Paraguay-Paraná, where the country’s main grain export ports are grain processing plants are located.

Furthermore, the extension of this corridor from Route 6 to the east will provide access to one of the main agricultural production and processing centers and the ports of the Paraná River.

The program will finance all work necessary to improve and conserve major roads in the east, including upgrading the technical features of existing ones and widening roads and building shoulders to bring them up to standard with other stretches along the corridor.

The project will also finance the construction of ring roads around three populated areas which will reduce heavy vehicle traffic in these communities, reducing noise, pollution and the risk of accidents. The project also includes the implementation of safety features such as pedestrian crosswalks and mechanisms to get cars to slow down.

The $90 million loan is over 23 years with a grace period of seven-and-a-half and an interest rate pegged to the Libor.

About the IDB

The Inter-American Development Bank is devoted to improving lives. Established in 1959, the IDB is a leading source of long-term financing for economic, social and institutional development in Latin America and the Caribbean. The IDB also conducts cutting-edge research and provides policy advice, technical assistance and training to public and private sector clients throughout the region.

Article originally published here