December 5, 2011
“Corruption is worse than prostitution. The latter might endanger the morals of an individual, the former invariably endangers the morals of the entire country” Karl Kraus
The trade of agricultural goods in the global market economy has expanded consumer preferences and altered food choices. Agricultural production is greatly influenced by consistently developing technologies which have lead to substantial increase in agricultural production, with higher quantities of food in the international market as the main objective. As a result of this system, western countries go into developing countries and exploit workers for resources to be sold back to western countries.
Since developing countries lack economic stability, most developing countries rely on exports of valuable resources to repay international debts or as a major source of the country’s income. This process is fairly evident in third world countries, such as Tanzania. Farmers are employed at dishonourably low wages, which do not equate to the amount of labour and tools needed for production. Eventually, the external companies buy the land due to the farmers’ inability to afford to continue to maintain it.
Essentially, after attaining colonial independence from Britain in 1961, Tanganyika and Zanzibar united in 1964 to form the nation formerly known today as Tanzania. Tanzania is a country located in East Africa, borders the Indian Ocean, and resides between Kenya and Mozambique. In size, Tanzania is slightly smaller than the province of British Columbia, Canada, with a population just under 43 million. Its climate varies from tropical to mildly chilled temperatures, more frequently subject to drought, due to effects of climate change on the Tanzanian agricultural economy.
Richard Ndendya, a volunteer at Kawartha World Issues Centre (KWIC), is a Tanzanian student here on exchange with the Canada World Youth Program for three months. Richard was granted this opportunity through Uvikiuta, a non profit organization that deals with environmental issues, in Dar es Salaam, the commercial capital of Tanzania. Richard delivered an outstanding presentation about climate change and the Tanzanian agricultural economy to Oxfam members, a KWIC working group that meets every Wednesday to discuss the intersection of, climate change, food, and gender at 11:00 am in the Trent environmental science building B101. Agriculture makes up half of the national economy as well as three quarters of market exports (approximately 85 %) in Tanzania. Moreover, peasant farmers amount up to 80% of the Tanzanian workforce.
Coffee is one of the most important cash crops for the Tanzanian economy mostly exported from Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. Richard claims, “Companies are buying the farmlands from the farmers and employing Tanzanians as labourers for very low wages. 1kg of Coffee is sold for 1000 shillings”, which equates to about $1.00 in U.S currency. In North America, just a cup of coffee is up to $3.00 dollars. As Richard explains, the coffee beans are sold to foreign companies residing in the country who then trade it as a commodity to external countries. Due to price exploitation, farmers began to resist to cooperation with the cash crop industry.
Furthermore, sugarcane cultivation is another commodity that’s a major generator for the Tanzanian economy. Tanzania is also known for exportation of a small portion of sugar to other international countries as well as countries with in Africa. Kilombero a sugar company that’s been in operation since, in Tanzania’s Morogoro region. This company became privatized as of April of 1998. The government of Tanzania is a shareholder of 25% of the company, while Illovo sugar owns 55% of the shares, and EDF and Man with 20%.
Due to climate change, Tanzania has experienced constant drought for instance due to floods not during rainy season. During rainy season the country experiences extreme rainfall in comparison to Tanzania’s normal rainy season. As Richard recalls “the flood 2 years ago destroyed homes, there was hunger, homelessness, and major economic losses in tourism. Currents in the Indian Ocean are so high, causing severe stormy weather”. Moreover, Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa, and as a consequence of warmer weather, the melting snow caused erosions putting the people of the town at dangerous risk of their lives, their crops, and their livestock. Richard states, Coordinators on behalf of a Swiss company took initiative through their own independent project to spread environmental awareness and climate change through informative workshops in Tanzania. Richard got to participate in a 2000km bike ride that last over 2 months which served to spread awareness about current environmental issues in the globe and the effects on the region of Tanzania.
Global warming currently experienced worldwide is an increase in the earth’s temperatures, and rise in sea levels. This global phenomenon is caused by Co2 emissions polluting the air as a result of trapped heat from the sun in the earth’s atmosphere heating up the planet. As experienced in Tanzania, sea levels have risen, extreme floods have occurred, with poverty, hunger and homelessness as the end result. In addition to the exploitation of farmers whose daily lives depend on the country’s agriculture, where does a country turn?