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9451: Re: 9429: RE: 9422: Open Discussion(fwd)

From: Sarah Belfort <shoesbelfort@yahoo.com>

Here's my take on the problem of malnutrition / 
undernourishment / poverty.
> From: "Walton, Robert" <waltonr@emh1.ftmeade.army.mil>
> Please define the cause of this crisis. 
> 	Is there a sufficiency of food but it is too costly?

YES.  It is often the case that the stores are well-stocked,
there is food in the marketplaces, but people cannot afford to
buy enough to feed themselves and their families.  This is
because of all the economic problems-- unemployment, soaring
inflation, etc.  Naturally, it's very complex, and there has
been debate here about whether free distribution of food will
solve the problem or not.  (Of course it won't solve the
underlying problem, which is not hunger per se, but the
struggling economy and the poverty that comes with it. Food
distribution just creates more dependence, and yet how can we
sit around and watch others starve?  One person cannot change
the economic conditions, but one person CAN give food, so I
think that's part of the attraction of that

> 		Can more food be grown on the island?  Increasing local
> supply of food usually decreases the price, making food more
> affordable.

Yes, more food can be grown, as Nancy Laleau explained.  But
that's not all.  I've worked with food marketing systems in
Haiti (as well as export systems) and people who know the market
well say that as much as one third of crops perish en route to
the consumer.  Reducing this loss would involve improved
infrastructure, better transportation methods (like maybe using
crates instead of throwing all the produce in the back of the
truck and letting passengers clamber on top), preservation and
storage techniques, and probably other things I can't think of
at the moment.  

Example: When there's a large local supply of, let's say,
tomatoes, the people in the area can only eat so many, and they
really don't have any preservation techniques so that they could
eat some of their tomatoes in a month.  The excess tomatoes get
taken to market in a city, but many get crushed or overripe en
route.  The buyer in the city chooses out a few decent tomatoes,
but has to pay an inflated price to cover the cost of the
tomatoes that spoiled in the truck.  The farmer is marginally
better off for having had something to eat during harvest
(although we don't know if he/she was able to make any money on
the crop), and the city dweller had to pay a relatively high
price for the tomatoes.  All this assumes that, as is often, but
not always, the case, the middleman / ti machann  is not
inflating prices.

I don't even want to mention rice!

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