The greatest challenge of a generation remains as the world figures out in the decades ahead how to feed an additional two billion people. Unprecedented population growth, rising incomes in the developing world and a growing need for energy contribute to the increase in demand for agricultural products. Agricultural development is needed now more than ever to meet this demand, but if Brazil‘s success in recent decades is any indicator, development can be improved worldwide to address global poverty.

Agricultural Development or Perpetuated Hunger?

Depending on the actions of the international community, this increase in demand will lead the world down one of two paths. If agricultural production is not increased, millions of people will increasingly be left in a state of perpetual hunger. On the other hand, the increase in demand for agricultural products can be seen as an opportunity for economic development through new food markets in the developing world.

While there is a certain amount of truth to the argument that the global food security problem stems from distribution rather than production, there is also strong evidence that an increase in production is possible — and necessary. Economists predict that as incomes and population rise, the global demand for food will increase 60 percent by 2050. This means that the world will need to produce as much food in the next 40 years as they did in the last thousand.

If done properly, agricultural development can be a driving force for economic development and poverty reduction. Research conducted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs suggests that global food security is particularly advanced with increases of the agricultural potential of smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The benefits are two-fold: the increase in agricultural income for smallholder farmers can lift millions out of chronic hunger, and the increase in production can provide more food to the global market as a whole.

How can a country best facilitate agricultural development? The simple answer is through investment research and training in science-based agriculture. The success story of Brazil best illustrates this methodology.

Brazil’s Success Story

Through investments in agricultural research, Brazil has moved from a net importer of food to one of the world’s largest breadbaskets. Between 1996 and 2006, the total value of Brazil’s crops rose by 365%. The tropical country has now caught up with the “big five” grain exporters (America, Canada, Australia, Argentina and the European Union) – all of which are temperate producers.

This astounding progress has been made through the successes of the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation – Embrapa for short. Since its founding in 1973, Brazil has doubled its cultivated land and multiplied its agricultural output by six. Antonio Lopes, the president of Embrapa, says that the success lies in the delicate balance between agricultural expansion and land conservation.

Because no model for successful agricultural development in a tropical climate existed previously, Brazil was forced to create its own. First, they increased the amount of ploughable land by adding lime and nitrogen-fixing bacteria to soil that was previously unfit for farming. Second, they introduced a larger-leafed variety of grass and converted part of the new land into pastures so as to allow for the expansion of Brazil’s beef herd. Third, and perhaps most importantly, they converted temperate-climate soybeans into a tropical crop through genetic modification. Last, Embrapa encouraged and integrated new operation farm techniques such as “no-till” agriculture and forest, agriculture and livestock integration.

According to Lopes, Brazil will continue to invest in agriculture research and development for the foreseeable future. Brazil should serve as an example to the rest of the world for the ways in which private and public investment can transform a developing country in the tropics into an agricultural powerhouse.

– Kathryn Cassibry

Source: InterAction, The Economist
Photo: Guardian

Protests in Brazil Escalate over FIFA
In the last several years, Brazil has made major efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. The number of people living on less than $1.25 a day dropped from 16.4% in 1995 to 4.7% in 2009. Nonetheless, there are still 10 million Brazilians who live in extreme poverty. Protests have thus broken out over the heavy spending on new soccer stadiums in preparation for the FIFA World Cup.

Over a million people took to the streets to protest inequality within the country. The protesters’ main concern is the government is major expenditures, in the billions, directed for new and refurbished stadiums for upcoming World Cup and Olympics. The protestors are demanding that the money instead be spent on schools, hospitals, and better public transportation.

When more than 50,000 people came together on Thursday the 27th, 90 people were injured in a barrage of rubber bullets and teargas. Their goal was to reach the stadium in Fortaleza where Spain was playing Italy in the Confederation Cup, but their efforts were unsuccessful. Brazil has a history of violent oppression and the police attacks during the recent upheaval have certainly touched a nerve.

The President of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, responded to the protests saying, “I can understand that people are not happy, but they should not use football to make their demands heard. Brazil asked to host the World Cup. We didn’t force it on them.” FIFA is expecting to make record profits from advertising and broadcasting. Money that will not benefit the Brazilian people.

Marcos Nobre, a political philosophy professor at the University of Campinas and author of a new e-book on the revolt, was interviewed by Reuters about the recent protests. He said, “The streets are saying to the politicians: you have heard our voices, now let’s see what you will do with this.”

Nobre also claims that the demonstrations are far from over. The people will have to keep fighting if they want any real change to take place. Even with numerous economic successes, Brazil is still a country plagued by poverty. The residents only ask they receive the attention and assistance of the government before they start spending large quantities of money on mega-events.

– Chelsea Evans
Source: Inequality Watch, Reuters
Photo: Reuters

World_Bank_Loans_for_brazilWhile Brazil ranks as one of the world’s highest GDP rates, it still struggles with inequality and inefficiency. The World Bank has seen it fit to grant Brazil $500 million in loans to fund 3 projects that will help end inequality in Brazil. The loans fund three projects located in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte.

The first project is the Sao Paulo State Sustainable Transport Project. This project aims to improve environmental and disaster management as well as the safety of the transport system in Sao Paulo. Sao Paulo is home to over 40 million people and an efficient and safe transport system is essential to keep this region competitive with the world. More importantly, this project will extend the transport system to regions that have not had access to public transportation. This project will give citizens the opportunity to find jobs in the metropolitan area and hopefully lift them out of poverty.

The second project will help millions of citizens in the South East of Brazil. It is the Belo Horizonte Urban Inclusive Development Policy Loan. This $200 million loan will help with the development of this region, which has been plagued with inequality. This project will focus on development strategies to provide safe housing to all citizens. Belo Horizonte has had increasing economic growth but an increase in irregular housing. The hope is to increase the quality of life of the low-income population.

The third project involves the municipality of Rio de Janeiro which received a $16.2 million loan for the Rio de Janeiro Strengthening Public Sector Management Technical Assistance Project. In the past decade, the administration of Rio de Janeiro has implemented several different programs such as The Family Health Strategy and new education programs to combat the high levels of poverty and inequality in the region. However, the administration does not have the money or power to implement all of these reforms immediately. This loan will help the administration to achieve these reforms.

– Catherine Ulrich
Source: World Bank, Political Press
Photo: Professional Jeweller

Arco do Futuro
São Paulo’s visionary new mayor, Fernando Haddad, plans to elevate the city’s sprawling and overcrowded slums out of abject poverty by 2020. His goal is to improve the horrible living conditions of the favelas while also halting their insurgent growth.

The favela slums of São Paulo remain a brazen example of the poverty and income inequality that still lingers in Brazil despite its recent (and remarkable) economic growth. They serve as hotbeds for violence and crime as well as uncontained waste and rampant pollution.

In a campaign promise during last year’s election, Haddad created what will become the city’s main development plan named “Arco do Futuro.” This plan promises to provide more housing and jobs for the favela’s cramped and unemployed populations. He maintains that the improvements will occur as a result of economic growth, government funding, and demographic changes.

Previously, the government’s efforts to develop a 100-acre area around Luz, which is notorious for drug activity and known as Cracolândia, sparked intense protests within the community. According to Haddad, this was because the public did not trust the private companies in charge of the housing programs.

The mayor plans to allow members of the community to have a greater voice in order for the development plan to not be seen as a threat. He emphasized that giving individuals a greater sense of ownership would negate the negative feelings toward the project.

This mentality fits well with the message of the New Cities Summit, which was hosted by São Paulo this year. The message is this: “The Human City, placing the individual and the community at the heart of discussions on our urban future.”

The New Cities Summit, held in São Paulo this year echoed this idea as a way of developing solutions to the challenges of rapid urbanization. São Paulo was chosen to host last week’s New Cities summit because it faces many of the same problems as other metropolises across the developing world. If São Paulo can find ways to alleviate their problems of crime, pollution, overcrowding and waste, then the hope is that other cities can too.

By 2030, it is estimated that 60% of the world’s total population will be living in urban areas. Each year, a million people are added to this figure in China, India and the Middle East. Latin American countries have the highest percentage of urban populations with 87% of the population of Brazil living in cities.

“We need more just cities. Not just playgrounds for the wealthy, but cities where all people can thrive,” said John Rossant of the New Cities Foundation, “This is a global summit to look at problems facing cities in the 21st century, but also opportunities. There are lots of interesting solutions.”

– Kathryn Cassibry

Source: The Guardian,New Cities Foundation,Estado Sao Paulo
Photo: Mind Map-SA

United Nations officials met with key country leaders at the Nutrition for Growth summit held in London last week to discuss pledged funds and political agreements in the fight against global hunger.  Millions of infants and pregnant women are at risk for stunting and deaths from malnutrition; the Nutrition for Growth summit was a key step in securing hope and help in the fight against malnutrition. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sent a video message confirming the organization’s commitment to ending hunger and malnutrition in all forms worldwide.

One in four children will grow up stunted by chronic malnutrition. In today’s world, this number must be reversed. There is no reason for children to suffer from malnutrition. Commitments of funds and political support will help millions of children and boost the economies of some of the world’s most vulnerable countries. The UN is committed to do whatever it takes to see the goals reached and hunger ended.

The Nutrition for Growth summit brought together leaders from governments, the private, and non-profit sector. It was hosted by the governments from Brazil and the United Kingdom as well as the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF). The event resulted in renewed commitments to continue to fight stunting and malnutrition worldwide. Funds pledged at the event exceeded $4 billion.

Stunting in children robs them of their health and their ability to grow up to be productive, contributing citizens. The summit focused on eliminating that prognosis for children. UNICEF also strengthened its desire to invest in fighting malnutrition and to continue to support programs working in over 65 countries to combat malnutrition.

Also signed at the summit was the Global Nutrition for Growth Compact which formalizes commitments to make nutrition a top political and socio-economic priority for donors and countries. It will focus on scientific knowledge, innovation to nutrition, and transparency and monitoring of results. Strong nutrition is key for individuals, nations, and economies to grow and become successful and the Nutrition for Growth summit is another step towards the elimination of global hunger and malnutrition.

– Amanda Kloeppel

Source: UN News Centre


Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff recently announced that her country would offer several African nations almost a billion dollars in foreign aid. According to Ms. Rousseff’s spokesman, most of the aid offered will be in the form of debt forgiveness:  Brazil will cancel almost $900 million in African debt accumulated in the past 40 years.

Over the last ten years, Brazil‘s trade with Africa has increased fivefold, though the country’s increasing investment in Africa has not always been positively received. Mining operations in Mozambique by Brazilian MNC Vale and Australian Rio Tinto were blocked in April when community members displaced by the companies staged protests.

The debt forgiveness offer shows Brazil‘s increasing ties with Africa, in no small part due to the continent’s rich supply of natural resources. “To maintain a special relationship with Africa is strategic for Brazil‘s foreign policy,” Ms. Rousseff’s spokesman told reporters.

Countries benefiting from this cancellation include Congo-Brazzaville, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zambia. These countries have rich resources of oil, coal, and natural gas, each reason for further economic development in Africa.

– Naomi Doraisamy

Source: BBC
Photo: Photo

Defining an Emerging Market
The term “emerging markets” was coined in 1981 at the International Finance Corporation when promoting the first mutual funding investments in developing countries. While the term is sometimes considered unhelpful, it is important to identify and define these markets. Emerging markets are a hot topic as they are predicted to surpass the US, German, and UK economies in the future.

There are three factors that distinguish an emerging market from a developed market. Firstly, rapid economic growth defines emerging markets. Great examples of emerging markets are Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS). In recent decades, these developing countries have boosted their large economies based on global capital, technology, and talent. The GDP growth rates of these countries have outpaced those of more developed economies, lifting millions out of poverty and creating new middle classes and large new markets for consumer products and services. The large labor pools of these countries give their economies a huge advantage over more developed economies.

The second factor that defines the emergence of a developing economy is how much competition it offers in comparison to developed markets. Along with the rapid pace of development, these countries pose serious competition to current dominant economies in developed countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Italy.

Lastly, emerging markets are often defined in terms of their financial situation and infrastructure. While their rapid growth and competitiveness are positive growth indicators, the amount of red-tape and inconsistencies involved in dealing with these markets marks them as emerging. Unfortunately, some argue that the corruption in these markets will halt them all together despite other growth factors.

While the economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China are well on their way to surpassing “emergence”, the predicted emerging economies of the future are Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey, and South Africa (CIVETs). According to John Bowler, director of Country Risk Service at the Economist Intelligence Unit, the sizeable populations of some of these countries and the wealth of natural resources in others, just might make them the economic boomers of the next decade.

– Kira Maixner

Source CNN , Forbes
Photo ACF

Oxfam Fair Trade
Coffee is the second most-traded commodity and one of the most consumed drinks around the world. The consumption of coffee is a universal business within its own, for its demand is incredibly high worldwide. Drinking coffee has become almost second nature to many who can afford it. American author and journalist, Sarah Vowell, says that she realized that drinking a mocha, although seemingly trivial, was in fact “to gulp down the entire history of the New World.” She continues on to say that the modern mocha is nothing less than a “bittersweet concoction of imperialism, genocide, invention, and consumerism served with whipped cream on top.”

Taken into consideration how big of a role coffee plays in people’s lives today, one would think that people would know where their coffee was coming from and what kind of conditions it was produced in. However, the truth is to the contrary because many people have no idea what conditions coffee producers undergo. Approximately 25 million farmers depend on coffee production/sales to make their living, and many of them live in poverty. The coffee market is prone to severe fluctuations due to changes in climate which in turn affect the growth patterns of coffee plants. Due to the longevity of the growth of coffee plants, producers cannot react quickly to changes in coffee demand. Thus, this is where smart consumers can help poor people, and in particular, coffee producers.

As smart informed consumers, people can buy certified fair trade coffee which basically means that farmers and coffee producers are paid a fair and stable price regardless of changing conditions. A recent Oxfam Australia survey reports that more than 85% of consumers want more fair trade products in their supermarkets, and 60% believe that their consumer decisions can make a difference in the lives of producers and farmers in less-developed countries. Marcial Valladolid, from CACVRA, which is a small producer organization in Peru, expressed how coffee cultivation used to disappoint him because the money he made was not remotely close to cover the cost of his coffee production. CACVRA uses its fair trade premium to “support and improve organic cultivation and certification.” By joining this cooperative, Marcel is content that he was able to receive some profit, and he is hopeful for a future with more fair trade.

It is no wonder that coffee was once described by Neil Gaiman as “sweet as sin,” taking into account all the producers and farmers horribly affected by our enjoyment of their produce. Majority of coffee producers live in developing countries including Brazil, Colombia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Ethiopia, and Mexico. Luckily, our enjoyment can come as a better price as the conditions can change because certified fair trade products are becoming increasingly available and accessible through independent grocers, major supermarkets, and retail stores. Thus, making the switch to becoming a smart consumer could not be any easier today. Make the switch today and change people’s lives.

– Leen Abdallah

Sources: AU News, Good Reads
Photo: Google, Google

USAID and Qualcomm announced a formal agreement to work to expand global technology and increase collaborative efforts in development.  Qualcomm, a San-Diego based telecommunications company, has been working with USAID in recent years to improve access to technology in developing countries. The formal agreement will give Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach Division the ability to carry out projects.

Those that have already benefited from USAID and Qualcomm’s projects are fishermen in Brazil, police officers in El Salvador, and health workers in the Philippines.  In Brazil, the joint project provided small-scale fisherman with mobile devices and applications to connect with buyers, track sales, and get weather updates. Qualcomm was able to equip police in high-crime neighborhoods in El Salvador with smart phones that allowed them to connect to a database to work to reduce crime. Collaboration in the Philippines helped rural health clinics establish electronic records.

USAID commended Qualcomm for being an innovative, nimble, and strategic global technology leader.  USAID and Qualcomm share a vision of how to address the challenges in the developing world. Among the current goals of the formal agreement are to close the mobile phone gender gap, expand access to broadband, reduce the negative effects of climate change, and connect small farmers to market data.  Projects in Africa and Asia are the top priority and future consideration will be given to other areas including Latin America.

The future of technology in developing nations is changing quickly and this is just more step in the right direction.

– Amanda Kloeppel

Source: UT San Diego
Photo: CIAT News

The New Stars of Emerging Markets
As the economy continues to expand, the stories of economic growth and development are shifting.  The new stars of emerging markets are beginning to rise and take the spotlight in the story of development.  Over the past decade, the most well-known stories of rising nations within emerging markets have been that of BRIC nations-Brazil, Russia, India, and China. Reporting double-digit growth numbers over the past several years has catapulted them to the top of the emerging markets.  However, their growth is starting to level off and has fallen back into single digits.  They are more stable and sustainable in their growth and have paved the way for new stars to take the spotlight.

Head of emerging markets at Morgan Stanley Investments Ruchir Sharma believes the BRIC nations are beginning a period of slow-down and their slower growth will leave room for other nations to take center stage.  The stories of the BRIC nations are remarkable. China’s double-digit growth has turned the nation into a sustainable nation with a growing middle class.  This is a huge step in overall country development. The creation of a middle class provides additional opportunities for advancement and brings in outside investors to the nation who are interested in the increasing consumer spending capacity.

Who are the new stars?  Sharma says the nations to watch for are the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia, as well as parts of Latin America such as Peru, Chile, and Colombia. Political leaders in these countries are stable and have a strong understanding of economic reform. These nations have great potential to be the new emerging markets and double-digit growth-producing countries.

The Philippines is one of the most cost-competitive destinations of technology and business service centers. While India used to dominate the call-center world, the Philippines is fast becoming a strong competitor.  Indonesia has a strong commodity business to build economic strength and Thailand’s manufacturing sector continues to expand.

Beyond the potential new stars of emerging markets are several economies that have the ability to follow behind in the coming years. Nations like  Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka are beginning steps towards economic reform. According to Sharma, the winners of one decade are rarely winners in the next, but the emerging markets continue to be a strong factor in the global economy and a strong place for foreign investment. It will be a fascinating story to watch as the decade unfolds.

– Amanda Kloeppel
Source: Wall Street Journal
Photo: Avid Investor Group