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[Brazil: agricultural modernisation and food production restructuring in the international crisis] Bresil: modernisation agricole et restructuration alimentaire dans la crise internationale.
Tiers-Monde. 1985 Oct-Dec; 26(104):879-98.This study examines the complex relationship of capital accumulation, external debt, and food supply in Brazil, a country which has simultaneously increased its food exports and its unsatisfied demand for food imports in the context of the world economic crisis. In Brazil, the substitution of export cash crops for subsistence crops has been accompanied by a profound but incomplete restructuring of the basic food supply and model of consumption, a restructuring made possible by declining real cost of the new foods. The gap between the extremely rapid evolution of consumption, especially in the urban areas, and the possibilities of concomitant transformation of production is the characteristic feature of the change occuring in Brazil. The current diet of the developed countries evolved over a relatively long period and was based on the declining real cost of basic foodstuffs made possible by increasing labor productivity. Between 1800-1900, the real cost of a kilo of bread was halved, while that of meat remained stable. In France and the US respectively, 80 and 90% of the principal cereals are consumed by animals, while in developing countries most grains are directly consumed. Numerous indices suggest that Brazil has begun to differentiate its food regime in the direction of decreased consumption of cereals, tubers, and legumes, and increased consumption of animal products, with grains increasingly consumed indirectly by animals. Since the early 1970s, Brazil has developed a powerful processed food industry which supports intensive breeding of poultry and, to a lesser extent, pork and milk cattle. However, low income population groups have been forced to reduce their consumption of traditional foodstuffs, whose real prices have undergone relative increases, without achieving a satisfactory level of consumption of the new products. Brazilian food problems result not from insufficient production of food but from the choice of a strongly internationalist model of development in the mid-1960s which required insertion into the world economy, notably through a search for new export sectors. The agricultural sector was assigned 3 functions: producing food as cheaply as possible, increasing the proportion of exportable crops, and substituting some of the foods imported. Brazil evolved in 2 decades from a classic agroexporter to a more complex structure reflecting the semiindustrialized state of the economy. The share of processed agricultural goods increased accordingly. The foods produced for the internal market have been changing at the same time that a new hierarchy of exportable products has evolved. Agricultural policy involved recourse to market mechanisms and cheap credit focused on the south and southeastern regions, large and medium sized producers, and a few products including soy, coffee, sugar cane, and cotton. Just 3% of credits went to the traditional foodstuffs beans and manioc. The most serious consequence of the internationalization of the agricultural economy has been a dangerous increase in the vulnerability of low income groups to world food price fluctuations.
[Food dependence and urbanisation in Africa south of the Sahara: a controversial relationship] Dependance alimentaire et urbanisation en Afrique sub-Saharienne: une relation controversee.
Tiers-Monde. 1985 Oct-Dec; 26(104):861-78.This article analyzes statistical indicators of urbanization and food dependence in Subsaharan Africa to examine whether urbanization has induced dependence and steady increases in food imports. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), agricultural imports to Africa grew at an annual pace of 8.5%, increasing from the index of 100 in 1970 to 227 in 1980, while cereal imports alone reached 21 million tons in 1980 compared to 6 in 1970. The growth of imports has occurred in the context of a relative crisis in agriculture involving a decline in per capita food availability and sustained rural exodus. Crude data on commercial agricultural production, food imports, and urban population seem to corroborate the relationships between urbanization and food dependence. According to the FAO, per capita agricultural production declined continuously between 1970-80 by 1.2%/year, while the population in places of over 5000 inhabitants increased from 40 million in 1970 to 75 million in 1980. The general trends mask the concentration of both food imports and urban population; by 1980, just 6 countries were responsible for half the imports and 55% of the total urban population. The relationship between food imports and urban population appears to be verified a priori for only a few countries, notably Nigeria, the Ivory Coast, and Senegal. In general, over both the short and long terms, the weak correlation between urbanization and food imports argues against any univocal interpretation of the results: rhythms of growth of imports have no strong relationship with those of urbanization. The average annual rate of growth of the urban population increased from 5.3% between 1960-70 to 5.9% during the 1970s, while the rate of growth of food imports declined from 4.3% between 1960-70 to 3.5% thereafter. The declining growth rate of food imports occurred in the context of declining per capita food availability estimated by the FAO at -1.2%/year for all SubSaharan countries. Per capita production attained an index of 89.7 in 1978 based on a 1970 level of 100. Imports necessary to ensure a constant food supply would have attained an index of 110.3 in 1978, but in fact the index actually achieved was 107.2 based on 100 in 1970. The level of national income played a determining role in compensating for declining local food production, with oil exporting countries able to import food at a rate in excess of the difference and other nations falling considerably short of compensating. Income effects explain in large part the absence of correlation between level of food production, food imports, and urbanization. As in all econometric studies of countries with deficient data, caution must be applied in interpretation of results. The UN data used do no measure clandestine inter-African food exchanges and define urban areas in purely demographic terms.