Neoliberalism and Hunger in the World

The Future and Economic Situations

The future has always been associated with better life and progress. Unfortunately, the twenty-first century seems to be a repeat of economic situations of the nineteenth century. The nineteenth century was marked by a concentration of wealth to particular few while many lived on low wages. The gaps that existed between the poor and the rich still define the contemporary society. Hunger and poverty, as well as food prices, are closely related ("Hunger - The Hunger Project," 2014). Neoliberalism is a form of capitalism that is meant to foster food security by enhancing agricultural distribution of goods through the global market. Neoliberalism entails trade liberalizations, reduction of social expenditure, privatization of industries and public services and the unregulated movement of capital (Heinberg, 2011). After World War II trade liberalization has been enhanced through the institution of World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) which are responsible for neoliberal policy formulation and implementation. The institutions are to oversee the strategies of global hunger alleviation and the sustainability of natural resources (Gonzalez, 2004). Various methods including modern approaches for hunger alleviation have been exploited to this course. For example, industrialized agriculture for the West and the Green Revolution for the developing countries include some of the neoliberal strategies to curb hunger. Surprisingly, there are 815 million persons in the world suffering from chronic hunger most of them (98%) are from the developing countries ("Hunger- The Hunger Project, 2014). In the world there are 852 million people suffering undernourishment, this is according to the reports of UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) as quoted by Barrett (2010). This article will look at the neoliberal strategies that have been employed to check hunger in the world thus far and the effectiveness of such mechanisms.

The Neoliberal Approaches and their Effectiveness

Industrialization of agriculture

Agriculture has evolved from the basic raring of animals and small-scale cultivation of crops to mass production of agricultural products through mechanization. The industrial revolution in Europe led to the transformation of agriculture through technological advances. The neoliberalism era advocates for the seizing of the available technologies to improve food production which will boost food security. During the industrial revolution of the 1700s in UK and 1800s in the USA, many small-scale farmers turned to agricultural production due to farm mechanization and available factory production (Mokyr, 2018). Food production became mostly dependent on machinery and off-farm inputs. The expansion of agriculture was accompanied by rapid population growth (Danbom, 2017). Also, many farmers shifted to mono-cropping that was carried out on large tracts of land. The result was improved production and availability of food in the market. However, this mechanization promoted inequality. The rich people were able to outcompete the poor who could not afford to own large pieces of land and machinery. Also, there was rural to urban migration which meant that a large population could no longer be able to produce food but depend on the market for food. There was reduced food production at the insurgence of population growth. Due to the rural-urban migration, there was reduced labor for farming which reduced the amount of food produced for the market. This resulted to food availability for the urban market as the rural people faced food insecurity. The most important threat to food security is not food scarcity but rather the distribution of the food (Sen, 2005).

Furthermore, the increase in agricultural factories reduced the availability and distribution of food items. The industries demanded large volumes of agricultural produce for processing. The poor were tempted to sell the little food they could produce to get finances for other uses. To some extent, this incapacitated their financial abilities that further hindered their ability to carry out farming since they could not match their wealthy compatriots. Also, the processed food became available at high prices. The rise in food prices can be attributed to the high taxation imposed on the processing industries by the government. Also, increased fuel prices led to the high cost of food items as the processors aimed at profit maximization to cater for the high oil prices. Therefore, industrialization did not entirely alleviate the problem of food insecurity or hunger since it led to food unavailability for the low-class people as it was unaffordable for them.

Agricultural mechanization increased the efficiency of agricultural production. However, it widened the gap between the poor and the rich (Carolan, 2012). The economic disparities impacted on the social life as well as the food security. The poor cannot access enough food due to their financial inadequacy. Neoliberalism targets equality among the world population as one of the mechanisms to reduce global hunger. However, the economic disparities that are evident in many countries in the world expose the ineffectiveness of neoliberalism in combating hunger. Other negative implications of agricultural mechanization include; reduction of biodiversity of the ecosystem due to mono-cropping, deterioration of soil quality, desertification and soil erosion (Carolan, 2012).

Green Revolution

The green revolution movement came is as a humanitarian effort that was formed in the 1940s with the aim of encouraging the exportation of food from Western countries to developing countries. In the USA there was enough food due to industrial revolution as the other nations faced hunger and malnutrition, therefore, necessitating the exportation of agricultural produce to curb the problem (Otsuka and Kijima, 2010). Also, foundations such as the Rockefeller Foundation joined the movement as they engaged in the production of high-yielding crop varieties which could tolerate the adverse climatic conditions of Africa. The Green Revolution also adopted the use of chemicals such as herbicides for the production of the genetically modified crops. Furthermore, it promoted mechanization of farming (Stock, 2009). There were significant achievements attained in extending the Westernized agriculture to other developing countries.

However, the success had negative implications on food security. The Green Revolution led to the use of large amounts of chemical inputs in the form of fertilizers and pesticides (Stock, 2009). The ultimate effect of the use of the chemicals led to environmental degradation and reduction of soil quality which reduced crop yields. Moreover, the cost of agricultural production increased making food production expensive. Many crop pests have evolved to resist pesticides. Therefore, farmers have to apply many types of chemicals and in most cases in significant amount (Amir, 2013). The high cost of agricultural production has discouraged many small farmers from practicing agriculture hence reduced food production (Swaminathan, 2009). Furthermore, it encouraged the rural-urban migration which meant that there would be many consumers but few food producers which can result in hunger. The primary objective of the Green Revolution was to empower and motivate the small farmers by offering better crop varieties to improve production. On the contrary, many farmers have quit the practice due to high costs of the production process. Further, this has encouraged the financial disparities between the rich and the poor since the rich can manage the high costs of production as opposed to the poor who end up borrowing money and being indebted. Regarding curbing global hunger, neoliberalism has not achieved its goals hence ineffective.

Neoliberal policies favor free trade. The plan typically lowers or eliminates trade barriers with the aim of integrating the local market into the global arena. The strategy brings together farmers from both the developed and developing economies on the same platform, bringing about competition. Countries that grow certain crops that do well in the global market will outcompete those that grow crops with less demand in the worldwide market. The developed nations will achieve food security while the less advanced economy will be disadvantaged and still face food hunger issues. There is an established interdependency of the local market with the international market for hunger alleviation (Weiss, 2007). The danger for the interdependence of the markets is that many countries will face hunger in the event of an economic crisis. The outcome contradicts the objective of the Green Revolution hence its infectivity.

Countries with better economies easily outcompete the less advanced countries economy-wise. For example, the USA exports its corn to Mexico and floods its markets since it can produce at cheaper costs. This affects the sale of locally produced corn, resulting in high losses to the local farmers. The overall implication is the discouragement of local farming, which increases food insecurity. Neo-liberalization of the Green Revolution aims to create more markets for agricultural produce. However, its effect brings about economic regimes which impact negatively on the efforts to curb global hunger. The financial benefits favor only the global elites who outcompete the less advanced economies, discouraging agricultural activities. Reduced agrarian production can lead to global hunger. Therefore, neo-liberalization through Green Revolution has experienced a shift in the intended objective.

Neo-liberalization approaches have also realized some achievements through the Green Revolution. Many farmers have been empowered through the supply of free seeds from their governments out of the aids from developed countries. The farmers are then able to provide food for both the local and international market. The efforts boost the fight against hunger globally. Also, there are credit facilities that have been financed by financial institutions such as the IMF and World Bank which empowers the low-class farmers. Offering financial help to farmers enables them which in turn boost the fight against global hunger. Also, the credit facilities reduce the economic gaps that exist among different socio-economic classes. Therefore, facilitating equality among the world population hence decreasing hunger cases.

Technological advances have also been well exploited to curb global hunger. Technology has improved and made agricultural production easy through connectedness and the employment of such techniques in production. For example, modern irrigation methods facilitated by advanced technology has enabled crop production in dry areas throughout the year. The technological approach employed during the neo-liberalized era has by far boosted the efforts to curb global hunger.

In conclusion, the effectiveness of the neo-liberalization approaches in combating global hunger has, to some extent, been ineffective. The reason for the inefficiency of the methods can be attributed to the shift in focus of the strategies. There needs to be a reformation of the neo-liberalization approaches to achieve its intended purpose. The achievements realized so far have made a significant impact fighting global hunger, and every stakeholder should be ready to support such efforts at all capacities.


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