Consumers vs. the Consumed: The Grocery Store

'If you want produce grown on the farm down the road you'll have to go to Kuala Lumpur.'

In my past few blogs I have discussed different environmental based development practices, which negatively impact small farmers and local peoples across the globe.  While I have touched upon the role consumers play in the exploitative agricultural system, I have avoided diving more deeply into the matter.

The politics of blame vs. responsibility is crucial to understanding the role consumers play.  It is easy for consumers to shift the blame to larger and more powerful actors.  I mean it appears as if consumers have relatively little sway over the system, but in reality consumers are fueling the system.  Even though big agribusinesses, multinational corporations, and state governments are making most of the development decisions consumers still walk into the grocery store every day and buy into the system.  In order to break down the exploitative system consumers need to take responsibility for their actions, step up, and speak out.

When consumers walk into the grocery store they are presented with thousands of different options.  I live in Massachusetts, yet when I walk into the grocery store I can buy pineapples, mangos, and bananas year round.  I’m no botanist, but I am pretty sure pineapples don’t fare well in the snow.  As consumers we demand this variety in our diet, but we often disregard where this food comes from.

The rise of grocery stores in the United States and other developed countries encouraged the demand for foreign foods.  To meet the demand for foreign foods development practices have shifted to favor produce desired by consumers.  It is no coincidence that I discussed monoculture, GMO seeds, and land grabs in my past blogs; they all tie directly into the food system driven by consumers.

Each of the practices mentioned above promoted an easier way to streamline foreign produce to consumers in different regions of the globe.  In India traditional farming is no longer economically viable and farmers would profit more by transitioning to high-value crops; however, for many farmers the transition is hindered by high initial investment costs and environmental degradation (Gandhi 1).

On top of that, even if small farmers are making more money growing high-value crops the transition still predisposes them to food insecurity.  A Kiel Institute policy report found that in Ghana the standard pineapple market is dominated by multinational corporations; however, small farmers can enter the market by growing organic pineapples (Kleeman 6).  So small famers have a chance to become profitable, that’s good news right?

Yes and No

  • Organic agriculture looks like a path to success for small farmers, but in the long run small farmers will be unable to compete in the competitive global organic produce market (Raynolds 181). Jumping to conclusions and avoiding future predictions are dangerous in the development world, historically causing avoidable problems.
  • When looking at this situation it is important to understand that small famers in Ghana only have to change their agricultural practices because of the system forced upon them in the first place. Large corporations and state governments created situations in which small farmers were marginalized and then left to find their own way back to success.  These corporations are essentially sponsored by consumers demanding foreign produce.

Grocery stores are stocking their shelves with high-value crops because that is what consumers are asking for.

If consumers ask, grocery stores will give.

If grocery stores give, small farmers are consumed.

The global food system is an incredibly complicated, but the base structure of the system is crystal clear.  So this presents the question as to why consumers are not concerned with the current system?  I mean organic is the new fad right?

The answer to this question may lie in what parts of the food system are particularly concerning to consumers.  While climate concerns, environmental degradation, animal treatment, and farmer rights are important in the minds of many, health concerns usually hold more sway in the minds of consumers (Haspel 1).  This highlights the nature of privileged consumers to think only of themselves.

Is there a way to change the mindset of Americans and other prominent consumers?  If there is one, I don’t know it.  The most I can do is educate those who are willing to listen and participate in movements working to combat the corrupt food system.

Citations

Gandhi, Varun. “The Real Shoots of Economic Revival Lie in Agriculture.” Hindustantimes. Hindustan Times, 10 Aug. 2014. Web. 15 Apr. 2016.

Haspel, Tamar. “The Surprising Truth about the ‘food Movement’.” The Washington Post. The Washington Post Food, 26 Jan. 2016. Web. 15 Apr. 2016.

Kleemann, Linda. Organic pineapple farming in Ghana: A good choice for smallholders?. No. 1671. Kiel Working Papers, 2011.

Raynolds, Laura T. “The Organic Agro-Export Boom in the Dominican Republic: Maintaining Tradition or Fostering Transformation?.” Latin American research review 43.1 (2008): 161-184.

Blog 5: The Freshwater Crisis, More Solutions

For my last post involving the Global Freshwater Crisis I will be discussing, not unlike my first post, solutions that can be implemented to help solve the problem. Droughts have become a massive problem across the globe and although places like California are suffering it is the Third World countries like Pakistan or Ethiopia that are going to be hurt the most.

If we can find a way, or even several ways, to not only stop using so much water for things like agriculture, but to also create more sources for fresh, clean water then we could be saving thousands of lives. One thing that we as a planet do have on hand is the largest source of water ever; the ocean. People around the world have been working on ways to get water from the ocean, desalinate it using reverse osmosis, and then give it back to the people as fresh drinking water. http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/26/tech/city-tomorrow-desalination/

A couple of things that we need to be careful of when it comes to large desalination plants like the one in the video above is that removing the brine from the water and then putting it back into the ocean can upset ecosystems and ruin the living processes of marine life. Another thing that people tend to forget about is that like the rest of the planet we are polluting the ocean. Not only do we need to find ways to remove the salt from the water but if we want it to be drinkable and healthy then we need to find ways to remove any sort of bacteria that could be hiding inside. Waterborne diseases kill thousands of children every year so keeping the ocean clean not only helps them when we create fresh water with it but it also helps the animals that live there. https://www.facebook.com/CollectiveEvolutionPage/videos/10153840711338908/

Above is a video about a bucket that two surfers created that constantly pulls trash from the ocean. Giving people access to clean and fresh water is one step but keeping the ocean clean is another one. The ocean is so severely polluted with our trash that, as seen on Netflix, there is a land mass in the middle of the ocean that is purely waste;the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The plastic that we use and dispose of everyday doesn’t just disappear nor does it biodegrade, it just sits. There are millions of landfills all around the world that seep and leak trash sewage into our ecosystems, and there are incinerators that produce harmful dioxins and release them into into the air. “In 2010 alone, more than 300 tons of plastic was produced worldwide” (Wolff), out of that 14 billion pounds is put into the ocean. 3% of that trash and plastic floats to the top, the rest sinks to bottom where we still have not developed the technology to get to.

If we want to help the people who cannot get fresh and clean water then we have to help the ecosystems that provide us the resources.

Last is a water bottle called the Fontus, although it’s a prototype and has flaws of its own it’s a start.

This invention is small scale, it’s a water bottle, but it works the same way the Warka Towers from my original blog post does but on a quicker and more efficient scale. If we could use this technology, and the other technologies above, the Fresh Water Crisis might diminish faster then you’d think.

Resources:

http://www.wolffkevin.com/resources/global_environment_issue.pdf

CNN.

‘We teach girls to shrink themselves…’

 

For the last couple of decades, our attitudes on gender roles have been strictly isolated. Women and men have been assigned to do certain roles, a societal belief about how men and women are expected to behave and must be followed. Women are housewives which means they do everything inside the house, from cleaning to cooking and to taking care of the children. Meanwhile, men belong outside, working to provide for the family or getting an education. Believe it or not gender discrimination is still an ongoing issue, as you can tell by the way Beyonce points out how girls and boys are being taught to do certain things and have certain attributes. In one of her lines, she states, “You can have ambition But not too much You should aim to be successful But not too successful”.  Why are girls not allowed to receive an education and be successful as boys?

In the book, Social Psychology mentioned how women are required to show kindness and nurturance while men show strength and smarts. Beyonce speaks on how girls are taught how to be small and how they must follow the gender roles of being a mother, give support and love, and behave normally. Then, she claims how boys should be taught the same way such as give love, support, and behave normally as well. However, her way of trying to break the gender roles is by reminding her fans, specifically women, to not let society dehumanize their identity by being told how women should act. Being ourselves, as a human being and not following any gender roles is what makes us a human. Unfortunately, it is the schemas, the way we organize the world, that makes it difficult for us to break the gender discrimination since we are culturally embedded on how both genders are suppose to behave or act. Although, psychologically speaking, it is hard to break that discrimination, do you think it is possible to do that without erasing or interrupting the countries’ cultural norms?

In the Guardian article, Girl speak out: I want to be a lawyer to take action for pregnant children, couple of girls have stated that in their countries, males are the one who dominant the households and communities. Yuma, 15, who is from Nicaragua, says “It’s hard to be a girl where I live…Men have all the power…” Another girl, Awazi, 15, from Uganda, says “I would live it if Uganda worked on girl-child education introduced programmes to help to make sure girls stay in school. What that means is that we need strict laws to punish those marrying off young girls.” This is only a couple of stories from different countries who has all these wishes and dreams that are difficult to overcome in their home country. Girls in developing countries has the capabilities and skills, but they are being pushed back from furthering their education due to economic and culture constraints. In the article, Making room for girls, C.R. stated that “Some are kept away by the religious qualms of their families…. Other are needed as child labour to prop up household incomes when times are tough, due to the lack of developed insurance or saving systems in these countries.” No matter what are the obstacles within the families, girls are always the one who are pushed back from their dreams or wishes.

Education is one of the most important factor and essential tool. The last blogpost I wrote on HIV/AIDS and education, and the impact it may have if we do not educate our children on it. Mostly the people who do not have any access to education are the girls or females. The girls are at a disadvantage partially because most countries are very traditional, which means they follow the gender norms. Women are the ones who cook, clean, and provide love and care to the family, meanwhile, men are the ones who get the education and get a job to provide the family with food and a home. However, these gender norms do not discuss how significant HIV/AIDS can destroy the family and the individual health. Lesly Wood claims that “More African women than ever before are living with HIV: 59% of the adult population in sub-Saharan Africa and in some countries up to 68%,” (51). These statistics are pretty high especially in sub-Saharan Africa and if we allow this cycle to continue, eventually the spread of disease will become difficult to prevent and slowly this can affect the population will of the country. It is important to incorporate how gender inequalities can play a significant role and how that may negatively impact them. In order to structure the curriculum around gender inequalities, educators must consider that females tend to feel uncomfortable to speak in front of males, so this throughout the practice educators should divide the gender, then later into the activity bring the discussion as whole. Wood claims that “Gender Equality needs to become a reality, in order to beat HIV,” (51). And this is where educators need to make sure that men fully understand what it means to be HIV-Positive and how that can damage their life, partner, and family.  Educators need to break the gender discrimination and emphasis women on their rights to say ‘no’ towards men sexual behaviors. However, the big question is how can we break gender discrimination without interfering in their culture? And is it possible to have break the gender discrimination?

 

Cited:

Aronson, E (et. al) “Social Psychology.” 9TH Edition

Wood, L. “Dealing with HIV and AIDS- Sociocultural Factors.” Chapter 3. 48-65.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2013/11/gender-inequality

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/oct/11/international-day-of-the-girl-speak-out-i-want-to-be-a-lawyer-to-take-action-for-pregnant-children

Zapatismo and Autonomous Development

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Zapatista members in an autonomous Zapatista community – Source: Dorset Chiapas Solidarity

Once a guerrilla army, and today a long standing social movement in Chiapas, Mexico, the Zapatistas may be the last place one may look for examples of development. A predominantly indigenous movement, the Zapatistas choose community autonomy over state support. This means Zapatistas refuse any funds from the Mexican state, an odd concept for some when trying to envision groups of people seeking to improve their material conditions. So what is it about this curious case that makes the Zapatistas relevant to development? The concept of autonomy, and thus self determination, are unique to Zapatista communities and provide an example of development which diverges, and in some was exists externally, from contemporary practices informed by neoliberal ideology.

But first a little background. The Zapatistas flew onto the world scene when seizing the city San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas on January 1, 1994 – the same day NAFTA passed. Twelve days of fighting ensued between the Mexican military and the Zapatistas, until the guerrillas chose to enter into dialogue with the government. Arms haven’t been taken up since. January first was chosen as a symbolic day to say “ya basta” (enough!) to the economic policies passed by “bad governments” on behalf of corporations and the ruling elite. For years, 500 to be exact, the indigenous people who make up the Zapatista movement have been struggling against colonial governments and policies which degrade indigenous life. Zapatismo, and the struggle against globalization, is just a new form of this long struggle. (El Kilombo Intergalático 2007).

The concept of Zapatista autonomy is founded upon two basic principles: resistance and self determination. First, resistance to global capitalism is central to Zapatista organizing, as is the creation of a world which exists externally from neoliberal globalization. As stated in the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, resistance is necessary to stop a system which “destroys what exists in [countries conquered by neoliberalism], it destroys their culture, their language, thier economic system, their political system, and it also destroys the ways in which those who live in that country relate to each other. So everything that makes a country a country is left destroyed” (EZLN 2005). Secondly, the concept of self determination emphasizes democracy and the right to determines one’s future. The latter is a right often stripped from indigenous groups in a colonized world. Both concepts of self determination and autonomy reject any aid or participation from the Mexican state. This is the view that, “the politics of the politicians is a sphere that functions through the simulation of public opinion… to administer the interests of transnational capital,” and thus, the state itself cannot divorce itself from the interests of business (El Kilombo Intergalático 2007, 7). Therefore, the Zapatistas can in no way align themselves with the “bad government”. It must also be noted that historically, the Mexican state has used aid projects in the Chiapas to buy off segments of poor and indigenous populations for political motivates, while leaving other sections destitute and without access to services (Harvey 2005).

But what does autonomy mean in a material sense, beyond the ideology? And how is it related to development?

Autonomous villages exist throughout the state of Chiapas, all of which have their own form of governance, laws, and right to the land. Each autonomous community organizes itself through a form of direct direct democracy, where all of the Zapatista villagers participate and serve on the governing council, Junta de Buen Gobierno (Good Governance Council). Decision making power then extends to a council of all autonomous villages which also has rotating representation. Decision are often made through discussion which flow from autonomous communities to the regional council and back down until consensus is reached. It is through the democratic structures that communities can set development goals which exclude business interests and are instead on behalf of the whole community.

The projects enacted by autonomous communities include the creation of hospitals, health promoter training programs, cooperative agricultural and goods production, potable water systems, autonomous elementary and middle schools, community-run transportation, and non-extractive banking practices (Forbis 2014). Autonomy allows community members to choose how each of these programs is implemented and decision making power is exercised over the composition of each program. For example, hospitals practice both Western medicine, as well as “traditional healing and herbal medicine.” The curriculum in Zapatista schools is designed by the community to promote collective living, women’s rights, and indigenous history.  And the judicial policies enacted by Zapatista communities emphasize restorative justice and the health of the community, in lieu of punitive “justice”.  All of these programs are meant to proportionately benefit each autonomous community, a goal which can only be achieved through direct democratic control by all community members (Forbis 2014).

Although the Zapatista case is unique, autonomous community practices point towards alternatives to development implemented by foreign, undemocratic NGOs, or top down economic policies forced upon state by the International Finance Institutions. It seems difficult to imagine Zapatista style autonomy popping up around the world, but that is not to say it does not currently exist, or cannot exist in the future. International solidarity plays a central part in Zapatista success. The countless numbers of organizations internationally donating funds and time to support the Zapatistas helps enable the continuation of the autonomous project. If solidarity is extended to other communities globally which fight for autonomy and democracy, we may be able to see other projects similar to the Zapatistas. Additionally, development agencies can also learn from the Zapatista’s democratic practices. Reforming NGO and development agency structure to emphasize direct democracy and community autonomy enables greater project success via wider community participation, while also emphasizing the right of developing countries and communities to choose their own development path. Democratic, self-determined development enables a world of many worlds to exist, not just the world of global neoliberal capitalism.

References

El Kilombo Intergalático. 2007. “Zapatismo: A Brief Manual on How to Change the World.” In Beyond Resistance: Everything. Durham: PaperBoat, 1-16.

Forbis, Melissa interviewed by Johanna Brenner. 2014. “The Zapatistas at 20: Building Autonomous Community.” Against the Current, March 23. https://www.solidarity-us.org/site/node/4135.

Harvey, Neil. 2005. The Chiapas Rebellion: The Struggle for Land and Democracy. Durham: Duke University Press.

Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN). 2005. “Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle.” In Beyond Resistance: Everything. 2007. Durham: PaperBoat, 62-86.

“Grow What We Eat, Eat What We Grow”

 

Across the Caribbean, food imports have become an expensive problem, prompting Jamaica, one of the world’s most fertile regions, to reclaim its agricultural past. Imports roughly doubled in price over the past decade. To combat the rising cost, rather than turning to big agribusinesses, officials recruited everyone they could to support their bold new strategy: make farming patriotic and abundant, behind homes, hospitals, schools, even prisons. In Jamaica, Haiti, the Bahamas and elsewhere, local farm-to-table production isn’t simply a sales pitch, it is a government motto.

Still, farming is often seen as a reminder of plantations and slavery in these regions, it’s a deep challenge. Yet at regional meetings for years, it has be emphasized by Caribbean officials that “food security,” primarily its availability and access, is at top priority. A number of countries are responding by branding foreign food like meats and high-calorie snacks a threat, and locally grown food responsible and smart. Jamaica started earlier than most. About a decade ago, the government unveiled a national food security campaign whose slogan is “Grow What We Eat, Eat What We Grow.” Grocery stores now market local produce with large stickers and noticeable displays.

As a result they even have an “Eat Jamaican Day” This past year in November of 2015 they were happy to note that their food import bill which declined by some 4.5% in 2014, is continuing along that trend in 2015. Even in the wake of droughts and bush fires, the agricultural sector grew by some 3.3%, thus contributing to the overall 1.5% growth in the economy. The agricultural sector continues to be a critical source of employment and income generation and foreign exchange earnings, as well as rural and national development. Eat Jamaican fittingly and concisely captures the Ministry of Agricultures’ desire to continuously enhance and expand agricultural production to ensure food security and food safety for all Jamaicans, as well as utilizing the sector to grow the Jamaican economy and so increase the welfare and prosperity of Jamaican people.

The spread of local knowledge plays a huge part in this. Local knowledge compiles complex bodies of know-how. It is practices and skills that are developed and sustained by peoples/communities with shared histories and experiences. This knowledge provides a framework for decision-making in a number of social, economic and environmental activities and livelihoods among rural peoples. In Jamaica, as elsewhere, such knowledge has been shaped and modified by continuous farm level experimentation over many generations. Local knowledge, and its associated skills, has been developed outside the formal educational system and is embedded in culture and steeped in tradition. The Jamaica 4-H has been active in the spread of local knowledge and youth are a vital aspect of in it. Young people are contributing significantly to the transformation of agriculture in Jamaica and have begun to make a significant impact on the way business is conducted in the sector.

In 2015 Jamaica faced one of the most devastating droughts in their recent history. Despite that, the agricultural sector, though slow, continued to record growth. Andre Anderson, Jamaica 4-H Clubs National Centre Coordinator, attributes this to the fact that, “we have a younger and more brilliant set of farmers, people who are proud to tell you that they are farmers, because no longer is agriculture something to scoff at or turn up their nose at,”

Many of Jamaica’s current young farmers participated in their 4-H club, and due to the training members undergo, they enter the field knowledgeable on how to manage their operations, in particular soil conservation and parasite management. The impact of the Jamaica 4-H has already had impressive reach into the agriculture sector because, contrary to our belief, the average age of  Jamaican farmers is 37 years, which is 23 years lower than the previous 60 year average.

Anderson further challenged the nation’s young people “to continue to re-energize the Jamaican spirit of resilience, hard work and passion, genuine love for each other and unflinching faith for a better and brighter tomorrow.”

Jamaica serves as an outstanding example of the things a country can accomplish through unity and shared interest. Still, some questions arise such as: How practical/ wise is it for Jamaican’s to reduce their food imports? Is there some type of livelihood protection for Jamaican Farmers? Can Jamaica’s strategy be implement/or work elsewhere?

 

 

 

 

Work Cited:

Davidson, Andrine. “Youth Impact on Agriculture Highlighted.” Jis.gov.jm. Jamaican Information Service, 13 Mar. 2016. Web. <http://jis.gov.jm/youth-impact-agriculture-highlighted/>.

 

Beckford, Clinton, and David Barker. “The Role and Value of Local Knowledge in Jamaican Agriculture: Adaptation and Change in Small-scale Farming.” The Geographical Journal 173.2 (2007): 118-28. Researchgate.com. June 2007. Web. <https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Clinton_Beckford/publication/227625010_The_role_and_value_of_local_knowledge_in_Jamaican_agriculture_adaptation_and_change_in_smallscale_farming/links/544ac4e20cf2bcc9b1d31ba1.pdf>.

 

Cave, Damien. “As Cost of Importing Food Soars, Jamaica Turns to the Earth.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 03 Aug. 2013. Web. <http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/04/world/americas/as-cost-of-importing-food-soars-jamaica-turns-to-the-earth.html?_r=0>.

“Government of Jamaica: Growth Agenda Policy Paper.” (n.d.): n. pag. Http://jamaicachamber.org.jm/. Jamaica Chamber, Mar. 2015. Web. <http://jamaicachamber.org.jm/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Growth-Agenda-Policy-Paper.pdf>.

Kellier, Derrick. “The Eat Jamaican Day Expo.” Moa.gov.jm. Ministry of Agriculture, 25 Nov. 2015. Web. <http://moa.gov.jm/Speeches/2015/20151125_The%20Eat%20Jamaican%20Day%20Expo.php>.

Something Called Colorism

colorism

My previous posts addressed the issues of post-colonization and the lack of development in Africa. The posts were a reflection about who was behind the lack of development and why. For my final post, I will be addressing the lasting after affects of post-colonialism that has also stunted development in Africa, but has nothing to do with money or greed. It has everything to do with lasting psychological and sociological affects on the indigenous people. It’s something called colorism.

According to Baruti (2000), colorism is a global prejudice that people of African ancestry have toward each other and seemingly use against or to the advantage of themselves and others with relatively similar complexion. Herring (2004) also defines colorism as “discriminatory treatment of individuals falling within the same ‘racial’ group on the basis of skin color” (p. 21).

Colorism has caused a social division among tribes in Africa. Due to colonization there is this perception that lighter skinned Africans are  Black seen as superior to their darker skinned brothers and sisters. For example the Rwandan genocide of 1994. The Europeans who colonized Rwanda turned indigenous Hutus against immigrant Tutsis. The Tutsis had more westernized features thus they were granted higher positions in society. The darker hutus were taking revenge on the Tutsis who had been favored and been in control for the longest time during colonial rule simply because they were lighter and more Caucasian looking. This genocide was caused by colorism used to maintain social order thanks to European imperialist.

European imperialists are to blame for bringing the “lighter skin is righter” mentality to indigenes of colonized lands in Africa. Pre-colonial colorism indoctrinated non-European populations with harmful racial ideologies. So, it wasn’t enough for the Western world to invaded, pressure, conquest, and colonize due to European nations scramble for African. It wasn’t enough for these once colonies to face poverty and be forced to take huge loans from theses wealthy western countries to sustain their countries leaving them with foreign debt. It wasn’t enough for the indigenous people to unwillingly give up their land to foreigners. It wasn’t enough. So, the Europeans instilled modern Western racism; light skin became a symbol of wealth and class.

Acknowledging the implications of pre-colonial colorism is the next step to ending this ideology. Some do not recognize that this ideology is wealth-based and encourages color prejudices. This ideology fail to see the role of social conditioning.

Works Cited

“Global Colorism: An Ethical Issue and Challenge in Bioethics.” Voices in Bioethics. N.p., 09 Sept. 2014. Web. 16 Apr. 2016.

Compass, Sociology. Sociology Compass 1/1 (2007): 237–254, 10.1111/j.1751-9020.2007.00006.x The Persistent Problem of Colorism: Skin Tone, Status, and Inequality (n.d.): n. pag. Web.

“Real Differences: History, Inequality and Oppression.” The Origins of Conflict in Rwanda. N.p., n.d. W

Rice Farmer suicide in Thailand

Last week, we read “Stuffed and Starved”. In that book, Pastel mentions the Korean farmer, named Lee Kyung Hae, who committed suicide because of his debt. Korean government lift restrictions on the import of Australian beef for free trade, even they knew that the price for cattle would fall with the entry of those cheap beef. In the Lee’s case, he made loans to increase the size of his herbs. However, the price of beef stayed low and flat. In order to pay off the interest on the loan, he sold cattle, land, and finally committed suicide. Free trade allowed the inflow of cheap products from other countries and those products torture the farmers.

I found a news video that informed a rice farmer, Thongma Kaisuan, committed suicide in Thailand. However, this case is a little different from Lee’s case. Thailand is one of the biggest exporter of rice. They don’t import rice from other country. So, why did he commit suicide?

According to the video, he committed suicide because of signify financial hardship, caused by the lack of payment for rice subsidy from the Thailand’s government. “The rice subsidy introduced in 2011 sought to buy rice from local farmers at around 50% above market prices, stockpile them to drive up global prices, and then sell them for increased revenue. Thailand was the world’s largest exporter of rice at the time and had the clout to affect prices of the staple. The program was earlier promoted by Yingluck’s brother Thaksin, who was the former prime minister (S. Sim, 2015). ” This program was one of the main campaign message of  Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. It supposed to provide stable and higher income for the local farmer.

THAI_RicePrice“The timing of the government’s rice program could scarcely have been worse.” Wall Street Journal argues that, “Just as Thailand began withholding rice from the international market, India resumed exports after a long absence. Major importers such as the Philippines, stung by the 2008 price spike, also began producing more rice. Instead of rising, global prices for rice fell from a peak of more than $1,000 a ton in 2008 to the current level of around $390 a ton for the most commonly traded grades.” Because the rice price in the global market has declined, rice subsidy program costed the government some 518 billion Thai baht ($15.7 billion) in losses (W.Chomchuen, 2014 ). Thus, the government run short of cash and finally became not to be able to pay rice subsidy for local farmers.

In the Lee’s case, Free trade allowed the inflow of cheap products from other countries and those products torture the farmers. In Kaisuan’s case, because India started to export their rice, rice price in the global markets decline. And, it tortured farmers. Thus, both cases are seemingly rooted in globalization. However, I think it’s more local government fault. In Lee’s case, Korean government encouraged farmers to make ends meet by upping the size of their herds, instead of imposing a high tariff on the Australian beef, even they knew the price for cattle would fall with the entry of the cheap Australian beef. In Kaisuan’s case, the government lacked to predict world market price and payment for the local farmer. Therefore, government has important role in the global market.

 

Citation

*Sim, S. (2015, January 23). Thailand Rice Subsidy Scheme: What It Is And How It Toppled Thai Leader Yingluck Shinawatra. Retrieved April 16, 2016, from http://www.ibtimes.com/thailand-rice-subsidy-scheme-what-it-how-it-toppled-thai-leader-yingluck-shinawatra-1792788

*Hookway, J. (2014, February 5). Thai Effort to Control Rice Market Backfires. Retrieved April 16, 2016, from http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304428004579352590377530118

* Andersen, T. (2014, February 08). Thailand farmer suicides. Retrieved April 16, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhNK2Mcm38Y

* Chomchuen, W. (2014, November 13). Thai Rice-Subsidy Loss Set at $15.7 Billion. Retrieved April 16, 2016, from http://www.wsj.com/articles/thai-rice-subsidy-loss-set-at-15-7-billion-1415882258

 

 

Clean Water Access and Reproductive Health: The Importance of Intersectionality

Before starting this blogging project, I did not realize how intersectional the Reproductive Justice movement truly must be in order to encapsulate all experiences. Even though I choose this Reproductive Justice because of its intersectionality, there is so much below the surface that connects when a women is confronted with the realities of sexuality, sexual abuse, birth control, pregnancy, abortion, and the idea of raising children.

That is, reproductive health is something that affects us all. The conditions in which you were born, how you were nurtured, and how you were treated by society all comes back to the local and national climate around reproductive health. For my final blog, I want to deviate from the “normal” discussions of indicators of reproductive health (and lack of health), and connect the movement back to another prominent discussion: water.

Water surface

Given the events in Flint, Michigan, as well as around the world, this is an extremely timely discussion. Additionally, water has come to my attention.

This past weekend, I had the honor of attending the Civil Liberties and Public Policy (CLPP) conference at Hampshire College, a weekend-long conference on the topic of reproductive justice. One of the sessions I attended addressed water shortages experienced by indigenous women in California, and their negative effects on pregnant and parenting women. After that experience, viewing the film Good Fortune in class made me realize the disastrous effects that water control have on people, both nationally and internationally.

In Good Fortune, we all learned about how the company Dominion built a dam in Western Kenya that flooded nearby villages and homes (Good Fortune). Despite the fact that the dam was supposed to allieviate poverty in the area, versus applying a “band-aid” (Good Fortune), one woman in the film discussed her miscarriage at 7 months as being a side effect of pesticides applied to the crops, which then got “into the floodwater” (Good Fortune). According to ONE, it seems that little has changed. In sub-Saharan Africa, only 68% of individuals have “access to an improved water source” (ONE). In 2012, three years after the airdate of Good Fortune, The Guardian came out with an article which documented slums near Nairobi, and populations of people that would make their livelihood off of waste located in a nearby “rubbish dump” (Chonghaile). This Western article reminded me of how developers approached Kibera in Good Fortune: as a health hazard, that must be destroyed. While the article sights “miscarriages” as one of the effects of spending days looting through the dump, the article fails to mention how displacement may not better these realities.

Examples of this can be found among indigenous women in the United States. In this concluding blog, I want to make sure that the United States is mentioned as not just the “cause” but as  the “effect” as well, as there are populations that are marginalized in this country, as well as outside of it. At the CLPP conference, speaker Beata Tsosie Peña discussed how water serves a spiritual purpose, as well as a purpose for survival. Enduring decades of marginalization and displacement, forced access to unclean water (and other basic needs) greatly impact reproductive health. Activists Kristen Zimmerman and Vera Miao speak further on some of the environmental implications that affect reproductive health of the Tewa people of the Southwest:

Founded secretly during World War II, the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), is the well-known site of the development of the atomic bomb. Less well-known are the adverse impacts of the laboratory’s activities on the Native people living in the surrounding Pueblos. For more than 64 years, LANL has been dumping toxic and radioactive waste onto Tewa sacred and ancestral lands, including explosives, volatile organic compounds and PCBs. In 2008, the New Mexico Environment Department estimated that approximately 2,093 such dumpsites have been created since the laboratory began operating. LANL itself states that the PCB concentrations in a nearby watershed were 70 times higher than the New Mexico human health standard, and recent research found these toxins within the homes of Pueblo residents. The operation of the laboratory has led to the joint contamination and endangerment of human health and the local ecosystem. (Zimmerman)

In conclusion, reproductive health does not only apply to how a woman experiences sexuality and pregnancy. It applies to the type of life and livelihood that the child will experience. As seen throughout these blogs, actors of development consistently ignore and devalue the importance of reproductive health. That being said, alternatives to development must keep coming into play. As unhealthy as it is for people to be living on or near dumps, or areas with little or unclean water, the issue must be addressed in way that delivers surfaces to marginalized people, particularly women.

With that, here is a mission statement from Tewa Women United, a group dedicated to fighting for reproductive justice with intersectionality:

TWU’s holistic approach combines advocacy, litigation, research, and action with cultural revival. TWU’s Indigenous Women’s Health and Reproductive Justice (IWH) Program encourages Pueblo members and youth to become active participants in their healthcare through all stages of life and aims to revitalize traditional indigenous knowledge and practice in women’s health. This recuperation and sharing of cultural knowledge, values, and practice led by women, is also part of a practice of individual and collective healing from the loss, occupation, and colonization of Pueblo land and culture. … Through this intersectional approach, these leaders are finding innovative ways to connect, frame, communicate, and organize around the issues that matter most to their communities – the health of their children, families, communities, culture, and land. (Zimmerman)

How else do you think intersectionality applies to development?

Works Cited

Chonghaile, Clar Ni. “Kenyan Rubbish Dump Offers Little Money for Much Misery”. The Guardian. The Guardian, 18 Sep. 2012.Web. 16 Apr. 2016.

Good Fortune. Dir. Landon Van Soest. PBS, 2009. Film.

Tsosie Peña, Beata. “Don’t Drink the Water: Water Access is a Human Right and Reproductive Justice Issue”. Hampshire College. Civil Liberties and Public Policy Conference, Amherst, MA. 10 Apr. 2016.

“Water and Sanitation”. ONE. ONE, n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2016.

Zimmerman, Kristen and Miao, Vera. Fertile Ground: Women Organizing at the Intersection of Environmental Justice and Reproductive Justice. Movement Strategy Center, 2009. Web. 15 Apr. 2016.

Stranger Danger?

I find myself speaking about a new topic every week and it is due to the “new” information I view day to day about situations we as women face on a day to day basis. I do not want the viewer to feel that women are the only ones who go through these situations. Men do as well, but women are the main target and as a woman myself, subjects surrounding women are important to me. In this scenario, I am speaking on the subject of sexual abuse. We as human beings feel that strangers are the people we should keep our kids away from, hence the term stranger danger. But are strangers the people we should be careful of? In my blog post I will touch on the subject of sexual abuse, trust, and developing as a nation through this issue.

When we look out in to the world, children at an early age are taught to stay away from strangers because they could potentially harm them. In a sense, this is true, but are they the ones we should worry about?

According to an article called Child Sexual Abuse, statistics prove:

CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE STATISTICS:

  • 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old.
  • Over 58,000 children were sexually abused last year.
  • 8.3 % of reported child abuse cases were sexual abuse.
  • 34% of people who sexually abuse a child are family members.
  • 12.3% of girls were age 10 or younger at the time of their first
  • rape/victimization, and 30% of girls were between the ages of 11 and 17.
  • 96% of people who sexually abuse children are male, and 76.8% of people who sexually abuse children are adults.
  • The average age at which girls first become victims of prostitution is 12 to 14 years old

Brave

These statistics show that children how early children were forced to grow up and be silenced about their sexuality, fearing those around them because they were scarred from an interaction or many interactions involving sexual abuse. These statistics explain why many children cut themselves as a way to get out of their heads for a moment. After having their first encounter with a man be one of abuse and to have that abuse occur at such a young age, many women fear being around men in fear that all they want from her is sex. A woman begins to feel that her body is all men want, leading her into participating in acts of prostitution, etc.

Video of mother who married a man who sexually abused her 15 year old daughter.

A BBC News report called One in 10 girls sexually abused, says UN report states:

Violence against children

  • 120m girls – one in 10 – are raped or sexually attacked by age of 20
  • Boys also report experiences of sexual violence, but to a lesser extent than girls
  • The most common form of sexual violence for both genders is cyber-victimisation
  • 95,000 children and teenagers were murdered in 2012
  • Slightly over one in three students aged 13-15 experience regular bullying in school
  • Six out of 10 children aged between two and 14 are physically punished by carers

Children are main victims of sexual abuse and are easy victims within their families. Instead of playing outside and slowly developing mentally and physically, these children are forced to know what things like sex are before they are even ready to learn to do long multiplication and division. This is a crime.

Sexual Abuse                                                                  I was 6

There is no way for us as a society to develop if we are struggling with issues of sexual abuse towards others, especially towards children. As individuals, the struggle to express that they were or are being sexually abused is difficult to speak about and that in itself makes it difficult to develop as individuals. Base on the lack of development personally, there is a low chance of development as a society. Based on an article called Childhood Sexual Abuse: A Mental Health Issue It states that “Some people feel very scared about reporting abuse. They may feel embarrassed, guilty or ashamed. Some people blame themselves or believe that they deserved to be abused. Others report abuse, but they aren’t taken seriously or believed. Sexual abuse is a crime. It can have a large impact on health and well-being.” What keeps abusers going is the thought that their victim will be too afraid to speak about their abuse. That in itself is why sexual abusers still exists. They feed on younger people to fill a disgusting satisfaction of theirs. The amount of trust that comes with being related means nothing when your own blood is your sexual abuser. The victim of this abuse feels that they can no longer trust anyone, not even their family. Along with that, they feel like they have no where to go and so they dwell on their sexual encounter and begin to feel like less of a person, being lowered to feeling that the only way they can get away from the thoughts and feelings of their encounter is by cutting along with other forms of emotional and physical self abuse. Children are being robbed of their childhood and innocence on a daily basis and this in terms of development is a major down fall. The only way to help develop society as a whole is to speak out. It took me a while to speak out. I know what it is like to what to say something, but fear being looked at with disgusted eyes or just simply not being believed. I was afraid. I was molested for 6 years and it ate away at me for years. I was 7 years old when it all started. I blamed myself and hated myself for being a victim and having had gone through what I did. Luckily I did not physically abuse my body although I did emotional abuse myself. The fear took me 6 years before I spoke out. I was 13 when I ran to my father crying because it happened again and I told him. I was so afraid of many things. I was afraid I was pregnant because I had just got my period and I was afraid my daddy would frown at me. He didn’t. He was enraged though. I just continued to cry.

In local newsfeed, WDBJ 7 to be specific called a Victim of child sexual abuse tells her story Javonda, who was a victim of sexual abuse states “Rage is the one word that I explain to people. I was very angry at everything, everybody,” Javonda explained. “When you’re carrying around that much locked inside it makes you sick.” There is a video of what she went through along with her story and I highly recommend that the viewer of this post watch it. Family can crush the way children see the world. A male relative can mold the way a woman views men as she matures and grows older. She won’t have a chance to think for herself because she has already been forced into thinking a certain way; a horrible way. I don’t know how I did it, but I was able to find myself through this scary and difficult time and no that is not the reason why I am gay. I am gay because that is how I am. Many people asked me that growing up. “Are you gay because you were sexually abused as a child?” Yes, I was sexually abused, but that doesn’t make me gay. That is not the reason why I am this way. I’m happy this way and that is all that matters.

Photo

In major newsfeed in the New York Times called New York State Judge Rejects Kesha’s Claims in Dr. Luke Case, “Kesha, whose full name is Kesha Rose Sebert, initially filed a civil suit in Los Angeles, in October 2014, in which she said that Dr. Luke had emotionally and sexually abused her, and in at least one instance raped her, in the years after he signed her in 2005.” Kesha is not a child, but she is a woman who is being taken advantage of and feels trapped because she is stuck with the man who initially sexually and emotionally abused her. To have to experience something like that is scary and she is not alone because myself along with many other girls have been through this and it is scary and all you feel you can do in these moments is cry and cry until you begin to feel something. For some that feeling comes quickly, but for others like me it can take up to 13 years or more before you can begin to feel anything again, let alone begin to trust again.

What about a child attracts a grown man or woman? This is one thing that is stunting the growth of this nation and world around us. This is a crime that not many people are paying much attention to and for that many people are in the wrong. People may say, I would never let that happen to my child or my child would tell me anything that goes on with them, but shutting off from your child and not believing anything they say, just builds a whole between you and them and inside them. I only write about subjects I feel strongly about and this just so happens to be one of them. We need to come together because that is the only way we can begin to seek the change we so desperately cry for. That is when we will begin to develop as one. Once we band together, nothing can break us, but that is a change so far from sight that I can only pray and hope things will at least show a sense of hope that things will get better.

The Climate X World Model

Not to be confused with this fabric company.

For my final blog post, I would like to cover an alternative to Neoliberal Capitalist Development that is an intriguing concept within the effect of climate change on Development. As I have mentioned in previous posts, many people believe that climate change will eventually become such a pervasive issue that the global political and economic structures will change to accomodate it.  As I have also mentioned in previous posts, one unique theory (Wainwright and Mann, 2012) is that climate change will catalyze two specific struggles that will define the global framework that emerges to address climate change: a global sovereignty vs. no global sovereignty, and capitalist vs. non-capitalist.  As my final alternative to Neoliberal Development, I am going to look at the result of these two struggles that Wainwright and Mann believe to be the most effective at addressing climate change, and the most ethical in considering issues of justice, but also the least likely.  This would be the Climate X World Model, a theoretical global system that both transcends capitalism and is void of political hegemony.

Wainwright and Mann do not specify what the Climate X World Model looks like, just that it is post-global sovereignty, and post-capitalism, which leaves plenty open to interpretation.  I see it as a global push to remove everything related to the patriarchal, whitewashed western colonialism of the past few centuries, and giving true power over one’s livelihood back to those who have it taken from them in this world system.  To accomplish this, I see a world that moves past globalism, colonialism, and capitalism to local autonomy – what many people would define as a traditional lifestyle – as the Climate X.

I have dedicated a large amount of this blog to the concept of post-capitalism, enough that I do not think I need to explain again why it needs to be a part of the equation in an alternative to Development.  I will instead present why the Climate X includes dissolving a global sovereignty.

Let’s look at the last major decision made by our current global sovereign.  At the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) on Climate Change, a majority of the world agreed to action against the use of carbon emissions that would cap global temperature increase at 2 degrees celsius compared to the preindustrial era, and with a strong effort to keep that as low as 1.5 degrees celsius (Paris Agreement, 2015).  The problem with this agreement, and a global sovereign as a whole, is how when working on such a massive scale, decisions work slowly and only affect a sliver of the issue at a time.  Even ignoring the concept of intersectionality, climate change is result of much more than just carbon emissions.  Deforestation, agriculture, and the meat industry are just as large of contributors, but those are left out both because of how difficult they are to address, and how tied in they are with global economics and politics.  You can start to see with this that a global sovereign stifles change and protects its own interests.  If local autonomy was restored, communities with a care for their environment would more easily be able to make the changes appropriate in preserving it, and groups without a care for the environment would not be able to force the rest of the world into an unfair system that helps them sustain an unsustainable lifestyle.

Another issue with a global sovereign is that there is no way that it can hold all interests in mind at the same time.  This is where Development becomes very relevant.  Education is a large part of Development, but a globalized education system teaches from the perspective of the sovereign.  Our global education system is built on European rationality and objectivity.  History is the same across the world, regardless of where you are from.  This is especially difficult for marginalized groups within a given country.  According to a Kurdish news source called Rudaw, it is only now, following the 28th anniversary of the Anfal genocide, that the crime against the Kurdish people will be taught at the schools in the Kurdistan region (Rudaw, 2016).  This is great news for the education of the region, but shows how long it took to add the curriculum, and begs the question how much more has been forgotten throughout history.  In relation still to a global sovereign not being able to keep all interests in mind, the Development Project often pushes an economic development agenda on places that do not want them.  Even in Western countries, this formula of Development is not completely representative.  For example, in New York City the Movement for Justice in El Barrio has grown to 954 members since its founding in 2004, and has been driving an anti-gentrification movement in New York that continues to pick up steam. In a statement showing the value of autonomy in the movement, member Diana Vega stated “We believe that those who suffer injustice firsthand must design and lead their own struggles for justice” (Davies, 2016).

Many people argue that this description of a global system is not possible because societies do not move backwards.  To this I ask why finally dissolving the racial and gender issues tied up in western colonialism and adequately fixing climate change has to be seen as going backwards.  I think if we were able to value anything other than economic growth as a society, then finally solving the issues of injustice that plague our world system would in fact be seen as progress.  I would go as far to say it would the most ethical way to facilitate the broad social progress that is the goal of the Development Project.

Works Cited:

Conference of the Parties. Twenty-First Session. Adoption of the Paris Agreement. 11/30/2016, 12/11/2016.

Davies, Jessica. “Participatory Democracy Drives Anti-Gentrification Movement in New York’s El Barrio.” Truthout. 16 Apr. 2016. Web.

“Kurdish Children to Be Educated on Anfal Genocide.” Rudaw. 16 Apr. 2016. Web.

Wainwright, Joel, and Geoff Mann. “Climate Leviathan.” Antipode 45.1 (2012): 1-22. Web.