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Concurrently, as tariffs and quantitative restrictions have been dismantled, the Philippines has been inundated with imports of staple foods that they have traditionally produced themselves. Rice imports have skyrocketed, from , tons in , to 2. A similar scenario is true for corn, beef and pork. At the same time, the already minimal amounts of government subsidies for staples have dropped further, from 6 to 3 per cent in rice from , and for corn, from 2 per cent to zero.

Income from exports has not materialised. Many of the experiments with high-value crops have failed miserably. For small holder farmers who have lost the markets in rice, corn or pork, conversion to these crops requires too high a financial outlay, and knowledge that is foreign. That the high-value agricultural exports have not been successful can be gleaned from the numbers.

Instead the trade deficit has been increasing every year, from 42 million in , to million in Poverty is on the rise as farmers of staples, such as rice and corn are being out-priced and are quickly losing their hold on the local markets to imports.


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Imported corn is only half the price of locally produced corn. It is not uncommon to find Mindanao corn farmers leaving their harvest to rot in the fields because the prices have sunk so low that it would not be worth their while harvesting and selling the corn. The other phenomenon is that corn and rice lands are left empty as small farmers cannot afford conversion to higher-value export crops.

As of , 75 per cent of peasant families in corn production have been living under the poverty line. The situation is set to worsen as 12 million corn-producing families are facing further drops in income. When pressed for specifics, the Philippine government has admitted that , jobs are being lost annually, mainly from the labour intensive traditional crops like corn, rice and sugar.

In the corn sector alone, 45, jobs are being replaced each year. The result of dismantling the traditional agricultural sector is evidenced in the high migration rate to the city from the rural areas, as well as the stream of women migrant workers that leave the country for employment abroad. Thailand is well known for its bounteous food production, particularly the export of its Jasmine rice. In addition, Thailand exports rubber, sugar, cassava and chicken meat.

However, behind this abundance, the flip-side is that the majority of Thai farmers have been putting up with very low standards of living. By the early s, 40 per cent of the rural population lives below the poverty line. Food insecurity is a reality even for the rice farmers. According to the FAO, daily food supply on average is about 2, calories, with an estimate per cent of the population chronically undernourished. The rural crisis has been going on for several decades, set in motion by the commercialisation of agriculture as well as the subordination of this sector to industrial development.

However, the crisis has worsened in recent years as a result of further liberalisation coupled with the on-going effects of the financial crisis. There are a total of 5. Of these, 4. Because of price volatility and the increasing costs of inputs, most Thai farmers find themselves in a chronic cycle of debt. This figure does not include debt owed to loan sharks. About one third of farmers owe debts to loan sharks amounting to 5 billion baht, with interest rates as high as 25 per cent.

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South Africa's Uneasy Alliance

These are official figures published in the media. A typical story is like that of the year-old farmer who hung himself outside the government house in Bangkok in However, because he was not able to pay off the loan on time, the amount increased to Bht , He borrowed the Bht , from a relative to repay the loan, and lost his land to the relative.

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Most small farmers are in a similar debt trap where one loan is taken to pay off the previous loan. One of the main reasons why farmers cannot make ends meet is that farm gate prices have been falling to chronically low levels. In — 98, the price of palm oil was Bht 4 per kg.

In , the price dropped to Bht 0. The price drop is due to opening up of the Thai market to palm oil from Malaysia. Similarly, the price of rice before the economic crisis was Bht 8,, per kg. It is now Bht 4, per kg. Rice was also one of the items that Thailand had to liberalise due to AoA commitments.

The tariff on rice is being lowered by 0. In addition, prior to the AoA, importation of foreign rice was prohibited unless it was imported by the government. This is not the case today. Thailand must import up to , tones of rice a year by In a similar vein, the price of milk has also been greatly depressed in the last 2 years as a result of opening the market to EU subsidised milk powder see case study 4.

As farm gate prices are on a rapid decline, the cost of farm inputs — fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides — have risen by as much as 40 per cent between Farmers are finding it impossible to make ends meet. Rural public health clinics saw the number of cases of stress-related illnesses increase by more than per cent in , with many suffering from an overdose of low-quality alcohol or mind-numbing drugs.

In fact, the reforms to the CAP which were made in order to comply with the Agreement on Agriculture have led to an even more protected EU market, as well as to higher levels of subsidies.

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According to an ESCAP study, the EU final tariff bindings for the year are almost two-thirds or 60 per cent above the actual tariff equivalent for For some products, tariffs are in the range of per cent to per cent. Similarly, as mentioned above before, subsidy levels too have increased, rather than decreased. Supports in terms of percentage of production have remained more or less constant, at 46 per cent of production in , it was 45 per cent in The chain effect can be summed as follows:. EU subsidies lead to over-production that is dumped on the world market.

Over-supply in the world market depresses world prices. Farmers in these countries cannot compete and go out of business. Local agricultural production is destroyed, sometimes even completely.

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This is a 62 per cent increase over their import bill in African countries will be most negatively affected especially as food aid is declining. Examples of the destructive effect of the CAP on developing countries can be seen in the case studies below:. In , the EU spent 70 million pounds in subsidies to dispose of fatty beef valued at only These countries had been exporting beef to neighbouring coastal countries for several decades. This led to cuts in export subsidies towards West and Central Africa by per cent for beef.

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However, the dumping was then redirected to South Africa. Between , beef exports to South Africa increased by per cent. Exports severely undermined the beef sector of Namibia, which traditionally has been the main beef exporter to South Africa. At the peak of the crisis, the EU beef imports were half the wholesale price of local South African beef.

EU farmers were receiving three times the price that was charged to South African wholesalers. The livelihoods of Namibian cattle farmers were severely affected. Prices dropped by an average of 5 per cent every year from — and there was also a severe drop in the sale of cattle. Bonn, July. About 15 million tones of milk are exported each year. The cost to the EU is 1.

Since the EU is the largest supplier to the world market, the level of export subsidies in fact determines world market prices. In fact, subsidies on butter even surpass the world market price. The current experience of Jamaica and Thailand are alike. Tariffs for dairy products have been lowered in these countries. EU subsidised dairy is significantly cheaper than locally produced milk. Local processors have switched to the cheaper imported milk power. Many dairy farmers in these countries are facing a crisis situation whereby their livelihoods are threatened.

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Chase that crowd away and there will be serious ramifications for the rest. Two more South African sides are set to join in due course. The organisation is also tabling blueprints for its future competition structures that might expand Super Rugby to 20 teams, including a side in North America, even though its expansion to 18 teams was a disaster. Related : Players must have say on how the game is run. They have told Australia they would choose SA over them. SA is still the major contributor to the alliance in terms of commercial value, which gives SA strong leverage.

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It would be a radical scenario that could eventually see the Boks join an expanded Six Nations. But that structure would be years away, if it happened at all. In the meantime, aligning the global calendar, preserving and growing the commercial value of Test rugby, and sustaining viable club tournaments both in the North and South is vital. There are similar conversations going on at Pro14 level. Two years after the coup that overthrew Ravalomanana, the FFKM was again asked to play a mediation role. The issues were the strong connection between the Calvinist Church and Ravalomanana and the uncompromising attitude of the two main actors of the crisis.

Last June, the Southern African Development Community SADC who has been appointed by the United Nations to play a leading role in assisting Madagascar in the transition process, expressed its intention to call again the Churches to mediate. Who then can help solve the crisis? In his opinion, the only way is to bring together all stakeholders, including parties, Churches, civil society and representatives of large national entities, in order not to exclude anyone.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Church is very active in the social arena, in particular through its education and health projects. According to Caritas Madagascar, the Church is supporting primary health facilities and hospitals and manages more than 3, schools. In the Antananarivo outskirt of Tanjambato, the St Vincent de Paul Sisters of Charity are distributing some meals daily to orphans and tuberculosis patients.