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Posted on on May 24th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

The UN Is Incapable Of Helping Solve The World’s Food Problems Like It Was Incapable To Solve Many Other Problems – This Simply Because Of Vested Interests That Will Not Allow It To Do So. The Case in Point is that When The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon was instrumental in Getting The ECOSOC President, Mr. Leo Merores from Haiti to hold May 20, 21, and 22, 2008 a three days meeting “On The Global Food Crisis,” Lots Of Presentations Were Made, But The Most Positive Ray of Hope That Could Have Been Gleaned From The Case Of Malawi, Was Relegated To A Foot-Note.

We will deal with the other stuff later, but our approach is to put up in front the positive example of Malawi, to us the poster-case of success that puts to complete shame all the other spokespeople.



So what happened to Malawi? Seemingly they decided that to succeed they must undertake self help. They stopped spending on arms, instead designed a program where they will subsidize the supply of seeds, fertilizers, pesticides to their small farmer. They knew not to give out things for free. Farmers had to pay something, but it was calculated so, that what they got for their money will be showing profit if they put in the work. And by God, work they did, and the enterprise turned into great success. Now the President of Malawi can teach the UN how to go about making Africans independent of the hand-out industry. In effect – free food that comes in as foreign aid – had the side effect of destroying the local agriculture in the first place. US and EU subsidized exports also have the same effect of making impossible the marketing of local produce.

Some countries prefer to fight the dragons, talk about Doha, and unfairness. Malawi stopped talking and went instead to work, telling the world – keep your handouts.

Having presented the Malawi case, let me now mention the May 15, 2008 panels at the UN Commission on Sustainable Development “Food Commodity Crises Caught World Napping, Say Speakers.” The meeting was chaired by Minister Francis Nhema of Zimbabwe – a neighbor of Malawi that used to be Africa’s Bread Basket and is now Africa’s Basket-Case. There the Head Of State, President Magus preferred to destroy the agriculture, being motivated in games he was playing against the land holders. He did not invent hunger, this was produced earlier by Stalin who starved the Ukrainians for exactly the same reasons. But South Africa led the other Africans to make Zimbabwe Chair of the CSD for exactly the session for which they showed least talent – the session on Land Use and Agriculture. What we got out of this was Ms. Kathleen Abdallah showing up at the UN Briefings to The Press and saying that the production of biofuels causes hunger. Neigh, hunger was there for completely independent reasons – look into the cases of Malawi and Zimbabwe for understanding.

But this is not the issue, the issue is that biofuels cut into the use of oil – and oil-sales-people do not like the concept.

If what I said in the last line looks strange to you – here what the Representative from Colombia said May 21, 2008 at the second day of the ECOSOC meeting: “Fuel prices were a big factor in pushing up food prices and generalizations about biofuel production could be misleading. Colombia produced biofuel from crops like sugar cane and palm oil which did not entail replacing food crops grown on fertile land or reducing the national food supply. On the contrary, biofuel production had dynamized the agricultural sector, generating thousands of new rural jobs, stimulating investment, research and technological development, and promoting higher productivity in under-utilized lands – he said.” These are all arguments we dealt many times on this website. what we want to note now is that this story about the biofuel-production being the culprit for the food riots, is being told now at every UN event by eager NGOs that could represent any interest you can think of. One such intervention I just described at… happened on May 21st, and another one, that I will be describing also (not done yet) happened on May 22nd.

The bottom line is that short term emergency aid is important – but this is not the solution to the problems of the survivors. For that, it seems the UN is lacking the capacity, because it is lacking in staff that is ready to do the right thing that is guaranteed to put them out of business.

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