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Cooking up a Recipe to End Poverty

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

Like music, food has a powerful ability to jump across cultural and regional barriers and unite people in the sheer pleasure of the meal. Tapping the rich vein of regional culinary heritages is also a great way to make money. Promoting local recipes and foods has other benefits: as the global obesity (or globesity as WHO calls it) epidemic reaches into the urban areas of cities in the developing world, anything that pulls people away from fast food and high-fat foods is a good thing. Doctors have found home cooking keeps people thin and is better for them.

The trend across the developing world towards eating away from home is another factor in the growing obesity crisis. While cooking at home allows for control of ingredients and portion sizes, eating out usually means more high energy and fatty foods. The global obesity crisis is threatening to reverse many essential health gains brought about by development. As communities prosper, diets become more reliant on junk food and fast food.

The International Obesity Task Force found 1.7 billion people in the world need to lose weight. There are now more overweight people in the world than hungry people. Neville Rigby, the policy director of the task force, told The Associated Press, “What’s clear is that the developing world in particular is going to bear the enormous brunt of this weight gain. It’s rapidly accelerating. We’re even seeing obesity in adolescents in India now. It’s universal. It has become a fully global epidemic – indeed, pandemic.”

According to Dr Susan Jebb, Medical Research Council Director of Studies, Human Nutrition Centre, University of Cambridge, “getting back to a bit of home cooking could be a good start” to tackling the obesity crisis.

Increasing awareness of traditional and local recipes can generate income in many ways. From publishing cookbooks to inspiring restaurant and food vendor menus to sparking up supermarket product lines, whole industries can be built up from the humble recipe. Supermarkets in Africa are a growing sector. Executives from South Africa’s Shoprite supermarket chain recently announced a doubling of their supermarkets in Uganda, and called supermarkets one of the fastest growing businesses in East Africa. UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s has already started to dispatch Fairtrade Ambassadors to Africa to trawl the continent for new products to stock their shelves.

So, the time is right for entrepreneurs to target the African food market and raise its profile. Seizing this opportunity is an ambitious project to digitally archive the vast and often hard-to-find treasure trove of African cookbooks. Announced at a conference in Tanzania this summer, the African Cookbook Project is seeking to gather together in one place all the past and present African cookbooks, effectively creating the most comprehensive resource of African recipes.

Published: August 2007

Resources

  • Africooks: Culinary Literature by Jessica B. Harris: This established African cookbook writer offers an excellent role model for budding cookbook authors: www.africooks.com
  • A success story about a Senagalese restaurant in the US: NYTimes article
  • BetumiBlog and Betumi.com (www.betumi.com): Betumi is the African Culinary Network and “connects anyone who delights in African cuisine, foodways and food history.” View photos.
  • An extensive list of African cookbooks available for sale: here
  • Africa’s Big Seven: held every year, it is the main event that brings together food retailers and producers and is a perfect place to bring a new product looking to be launched.

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2022

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SOS Shops Keep Food Affordable for Poor, Unemployed

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

As the global downturn bears down on country after country, governments around the world are introducing austerity measures to try to keep their economies going. Many countries are now facing financial crisis and the need for loans and support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Formerly comfortable people are going from regular employment to unemployment or erratic employment, and growing numbers of people are finding it hard even to afford basics such as food.

In Balkan nation Serbia, trade unions have come up with a solution: they are called SOS Shops and they feature food and other products priced at as much as 70 percent less than regular shops. By cutting back on the profit margin for the products, the store can make drastic cuts in prices.

In the capital, Belgrade, the shops are run by trade unions in partnership with a local retail chain, Jabuka. The Association of Free and Independent Trade Unions uses Jabuka to run the stores. Anyone with an income below 20,000 dinars (US $280) a month can receive a special card to shop at the SOS stores.

In Jabuka’s other stores, the profit margin is 20 percent, and in rival stores it can be over 30 percent. Jabuka also makes savings by sourcing locally and suppliers offering discounts of between 15 percent and 25 percent.

“The prices there are 30 to 50 percent lower than in major supermarkets,” Jabuka manager Milorad Miskovic told IPS. “It’s a hard time for many people, so we decided to lower our margin of profit to only five percent at the SOS shops.

“SOS shops are intended for the socially handicapped. SOS shops offer goods at lower prices to Serbian citizens earning minimum wages or pensions lower than RSD 20,000, to the unemployed, to the displaced from Kosovo and the citizens on the dole (welfare).”

Hard hit by the global downturn, Serbia has seen its recent boom times disappear quickly. The country had enjoyed average yearly growth since 2000 of 6.7 percent.

The country is currently negotiating bridging loans with the IMF (www.imf.org). The conditions for the loan mean severe cuts to public sector wages and tax rises.

According to the Serbian Statistical Office, Serbia has lost 10,000 jobs a month since the beginning of 2009. The official unemployment rate is 14 percent, and the government believes half a million people now live below the official poverty line, out of a population of 10 million.

“Many people have lost their jobs and the main problem is that the middle class is now poor. That is the real problem,” Nebojsa Rajkovic of the Association of Independent Trade Unions told the BBC. “The government prepared a social programme to deal with the economic crisis in Serbia, but it was not enough and that is the reason the union devised this project.”

This month, the Jabuka trade company opened its third SOS shop in Belgrade. The shop, the largest SOS shop so far, will be opened in the Mirijevo neighbourhood of Belgrade, and it will offer a wider range of products.

The unions plan to open 100 social supermarkets this year. Basic staples like bread, milk and potatoes are the cheapest goods. Unlike other supermarkets, the stores feature local brands and products made in Serbia: a boost to local producers in the economic downturn.

In order to stop hoarding of the cheap food or people buying a lot and then selling it for a profit, the amount that can be bought on one shopping trip is limited. For example, just three bottles of cooking oil are allowed each time.

“Most people in Serbia are finding things difficult financially. We only have maybe five or 10 percent of the population who don’t have financial problems,” continued Rajkovic.

One customer, 26-year-old Milica Marjanovic , found the shops provided much-needed support to her unemployed family. “My mother, my sister and I are unemployed. We don’t get any social benefits,” she said to the BBC.

“There are a lot of unemployed people in Serbia, life is hard for a lot of people and they can hardly manage.

“Many families don’t even have what is basic for living. So, these shops are welcome.”

Published: May 2010

Resources

The Co-operative Food: This pioneering network of supermarkets offers both affordable food prices for customers and good prices and terms for suppliers. They are a founding member of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI). This is an alliance of companies, trade unions and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working together to improving working conditions in supply chains.
Website: http://www.co-operative.coop/food/

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator. 

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2022

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Urban Farming to Tackle Global Food Crisis

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

The world’s population is becoming more urban by the day. By 2030, some five billion people around the world will live in cities. This year is the tipping point: urban dwellers (3.3 billion people) now outnumber rural residents for the first time (UNFPA’s State of the World Population 2007 Report). 

But with rising food prices across the globe, many city-dwellers are experiencing hunger and real hardship. On international commodity markets, food prices have gone up 54 percent over the last year, with cereal prices soaring 92 percent (FAO – World Food Situation). While living in an urban environment means living cheek-by-jowl with other people, it doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to grow food and supplement urban dwellers’ tight budgets and boost diets.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for food production to increase 50 percent by 2030 just to meet rising demand – and right now there are 862 million people undernourished (FAO). But one solution, urban farming, can make a huge difference, as the Caribbean island of Cuba has shown.

Today, Cuba imports about 50 percent of its minimum fuel and food requirements – a cost that reached US $1.6 billion last year for food. (Reuters). The island has been buffeted by one food crisis after another in the past two decades, first by the collapse of its aid from the Soviet Union, and then by a fuel crisis. But now, urban farming in Cuba provides most of the country’s vegetables, thanks to urban gardens that have sprung up on abandoned land in the country’s cities and towns. And the food is pesticide-free: 70 percent of the vegetables and herbs on the island are organic (http://www.soilassociation.org/web/sa/saweb.nsf/Living/ whatisorganic.html).

These urban farms mean fresh food is just a short walk away from the people who eat it. And in a world of rising fuel prices, Cuba has reduced the use of fossil fuels in the production and transportation of food.

The urban farms have created 350,000 jobs that pay better than most government jobs. It has also improved Cuban’s health: many have moved from diets dominated by rice and beans and imported canned goods from Eastern Europe, to fresh vegetables and fruits.

While Cubans receive at least a basic state ration of rice, beans and cooking oil, the rations do not include fresh fruit and vegetables. After the withdrawal of Soviet subsidies, the average Cuban’s daily calorie intake fell sharply. Between 1989 and 1993, daily calorie intake dropped from 3,004 to 2,323 (UN). But with the growth of urban farms, this has moved up to 3,547 calories a day – even higher than the amount recommended for Americans by the US government.

The secret to this success has been the rise of entrepreneurs like Miladis Bouza, a 48-year-old former research biologist who had to abandon a comfortable middle class life after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Her government salary dropped to US $3 a month. Unable to make ends meet and provide food for her family, she quit her job.

The Cuban government allowed people to turn unused urban land into mini farms. The cities have many vacant lots because the state owns most land and there isn’t competition from private developers, as in many other countries. Unusually for communist Cuba, 80 percent of the profits are kept by the farmers. This can be an average wage of US $71 per month.

“Those salaries are higher than doctors, than lawyers,” Roberto Perez, an agronomist who runs the country’s first urban farm, told The Associated Press. “The more they produce, the more they make. That’s fundamental to get high productivity.”

Miladis grabbed this opportunity to farm a half-acre plot near her home in Havana. Along with her husband, she grows tomatoes, sweet potatoes and spinach, and sells the vegetables at a stall on nearby busy street. This has enabled her monthly income to rise to between US $100 per month and US $250 per month, far more than the average government salary of US $19 per month.

Cuba was inspired by greenbelt farms in Shanghai (http://en.shac.gov.cn/hjgl/jqgk/t20030805_82028.htm): but Cuba has gone even further to make urban farming a key part of the national food supply.

All this urban farming is also all-natural farming. Farms have had to turn to natural compost as fertilizer, and natural pesticides like strong-smelling celery to ward off insects.

So-called organoponicos (http://academicos.cualtos.udg.mx/Pecuarios/ PagWebEP/Lecturas/ORGANOPONICOS.htm ) gather together a wide variety of vegetables, fruits and herbs, as well as ornamental plants. Customers are offered mangos, plantains, basil, parsley, lettuce, garlic, celery, scallions, collard greens, black beans, watermelon, tomatoes, malanga, spinach and sweet potatoes.

“Nobody used to eat vegetables,” said David Leon, 50, buying two pounds of Swiss chard at a Havana organoponico. “People’s nutrition has improved a lot. It’s a lot healthier. And it tastes good.”

Published: June 2008

Resources

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator. 

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2022

Categories
Archive

Indonesian Food Company Helps Itself by Making Farmers More Efficient

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

The current global economic crisis is taking place at the same time as a global food crisis. Food inflation took off at the beginning of 2011. This is having a devastating affect on countries dependent on food imports and experiencing decreasing domestic production capabilities. The least developed countries (LDCs) saw food imports rise from US $9 billion in 2002, to US $23 billion by 2008 (UNCTAD), prompting Supachai Panitchpakdi, secretary general of UNCTAD, to say “the import dependence has become quite devastating.”

Garuda Food (www.garudafood.com), one of Indonesia’s leading snack food and drink manufacturers, has been boosting its own productivity by investing in improving the productivity of domestic small-scale farmers. This led to a doubling of crop purchases from peanut farmers between 2007 and 2009. By stabilising the market for peanuts and better guaranteeing income, it has attracted more people into becoming peanut farmers in the region.

This is crucial for the future of feeding the planet: we need more farmers.

Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous country, with a population of over 238 million, spread out over a network of islands. Peanut farmers in West Nusa Tenggara (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Nusa_Tenggara) (one of Indonesia’s poorest places) are a key part of the region’s wealth. Peanuts are the area’s third largest crop after rice, maize and soybeans, and the region supplies six percent of the country’s peanut production and 10 percent of Garuda Food’s needs.

Garuda Food says investing in farmers has raised its own productivity by a third. Turning past practices on its head, this large agri-food company is supporting small-scale farmers and helping them to boost their productivity and incomes. Conventional wisdom had been to view small-scale farmers as an inefficient hold-over from the past – the quicker they were driven out of business, the better.

The Indonesian peanut farmers were using traditional farming methods and local seeds. Knowledge of more sustainable farming methods and land management techniques was poor. The farmers were also beholden to the whims of local buyers and fluctuating market prices.

Then Garuda Food stepped in. The company’s field staff offer the farmers training, and through its subsidiary PT Bumi Mekar Tani, it spreads knowledge about new agricultural practices and provides the farmers with quality seeds and farming equipment.

The company buys crops directly from the farmers, rather than from middlemen, increasing the amount the farmer makes. A premium is also paid if the farmer achieves better quality for their crop.

“We receive substantial supply from peanut farmers in NTB (West Nusa Tenggara) and we hope the arrangement will continue,” Garuda Food’s managing director Hartono Atmadja told the Enchanting Lombok website.

Garuda Food’s initiative, with support from the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation and AusAID, through the Australia Indonesia Partnership, has raised the productivity for 8,000 small-scale farmers by 30 percent: an income boost for the farmers of 3.9 million Indonesian rupiah (US $456) per hectare annually.

Peanut farmer H. Sajidin told the IFC (International Finance Corporation): “My farm’s productivity doubled, my income improved significantly, and I can sleep peacefully at night knowing that Garuda Food will buy my crops at agreed prices.”

Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved: Markets, Power and the Hidden Battle for the World Food System (http://stuffedandstarved.org/drupal/frontpage), has grappled with the conundrum of how to feed a rapidly growing planet. He finds the world is not lacking in food, but distributes its bounty very poorly and wastefully, leaving a planet where some people are literally ‘stuffed’ with too much food (the well-documented global obesity crisis) and others left to starve.

He finds the solution is often local.

“It turns out that if you’re keen to make the world’s poorest people better off, it’s smarter to invest in their farms and workplaces than to send them packing to the cities,” Patel wrote recently in Foreign Policy. “In its 2008 World Development Report, the World Bank found that, indeed, investment in peasants was among the most efficient and effective ways of raising people out of poverty and hunger.”

Patel uses the example of the southern African nation of Malawi, where “according to one estimate, the marginal cost of importing a ton of food-aid maize is $400, versus $200 a ton to import it commercially, and only $50 to source it domestically using fertilizers.”

Published: May 2011

Resources

1) Emprapa: The Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation’s mission is to provide feasible solutions for the sustainable development of Brazilian agribusiness through knowledge and technology generation and transfer. Website: http://www.embrapa.br/english

2) Divine Chocolate: The highly successful global chocolate brand from the Kuapa Kokoo farmers’ cooperative in Ghana, West Africa. Website: http://www.divinechocolateshop.com

3) Olam: The highly successful global food product supplier brand which got its start in Nigeria, West Africa. Website: http://www.olamonline.com

4) Insects as food: Tapping the world’s vast insect population offers many ways to supplement world food sources. Website: http://ssc.undp.org/other/e-news/newsletters/april-2008/

5) Cooperhaf: The Brazilian farmers’ cooperative Cooperhaf: Cooperativa de Habitacao dos Agricultores Familiares, has put together what it calls a “social technology”, combining housing and farm diversification to support family farmers. Website: http://www.cooperhaf.org.br

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator. 

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2022