There’s an article in today’s NYTimes that makes me very happy.
Instead of sitting quietly and accepting the trade liberalization and “free market is your savior, trust us” policies that make up the backbone of the IMF/World Bank’s financial assistance policies, the small African country Malawi, “decided to follow what the West practiced, not what it preached.” The government began to provide generous subsidies for the country’s rural farmers, just like the US and other western countries have done for centuries.
Fertilizer is the most heavily-subsidized, as farmers had been forced by necessity to plant crops year-round, and thus neglect the fallow time that allows the soil to replenish itself. Malawi has seen massive increases in corn yields, and now provides “more corn to the United Nation’s World Food Program than any other country in southern Africa and is exporting hundreds of thousands of tons of corn to Zimbabwe.”
Just as the superpowers in the West gained economic superiority by selective protection of domestic industries, it seems obvious that the only way Africa can pull itself out of the third-world is by policies such as these, not the harmful free-trade rhetoric espoused by the international financial community.
And what does the US have to say about this? “The plain fact is that Malawi got lucky last year,” [the US Ambassador to Malawi] said. “They got fertilizer out while it was needed. The lucky part was that they got the rains.” Oh, come ON.