13 April 2013
A global debate that has subsided in recent years concerns agricultural subsidies paid to farmers in developed economies. It used to be argued–strenuously at times by anti-globalisation protestors–that if only developed nations abandoned their agricultural subsidies, which amount to billions in the United States and the European Union, developing countries would receive a crucial boost. West African cotton producers would be able to compete with their handout-induced Mississippi competitors, or rice grown in Haiti would find a ready market in the U.S. and help to improve the livelihoods of Haitian farmers.
While broad discussion of this topic largely died with the Doha Round of global trade negotiations, the case for improving livelihoods in developing countries by stimulating agricultural output remains alive and well. Nowhere is this illustrated more clearly than in Papua New Guinea (PNG), a fast-growing island nation of nearly seven million people in the South Pacific. Despite PNG’s high urban population, 87 percent of its people still live in rural areas. Improved agriculture could help to make these areas more self-reliant, stable, and prosperous.