On African Agriculture

by Don Boudreaux on October 8, 2008

in Agriculture

My wife, Karol, helps clear up the confusion about the sources of Africa’s agricultural problems.

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mmukanya October 9, 2008 at 4:39 am

I'm envious. Not every one has a wife whose husband's blog can plug her role as "Africa expert.'

a Duoist October 9, 2008 at 5:05 am

Is 'land tenure' any part of the measure of economic freedoms by Freedom House? Does the UN report list and rank each African country's commitment to private property rights?

Karol Boudreaux October 9, 2008 at 6:59 am

The Property Rights Alliance has created the International Property Rights Index, which does rank countries on their strength of protecting three categories of property rights (physical, intellectual, and legal environment).

There's also a property-rights component of the economic-freedom indices published by Fraser/Cato and another by Heritage.

The World Bank's "Doing Business" rankings measure how difficult or easy it is to register property.

Marcus October 9, 2008 at 9:35 am

I have a question which has nothing to do with property in Africa. It has to do with software patents. I'd like to find out where you all stand on this issue.

Presumably, patents in general are justified to entice people to publicly publish their innovations, so we can all learn from them, in exchange for a limited time monopoly on the innovation.

Now speaking specifically to software patents, if they achieved that goal it seems to me that patents would be the number one resource we programmers would turn to for innovative ideas.

Yet we don't. And there's a reason for that. They are so vague and unintelligible as to be nonsense.

I see only three actual uses for software patents. One, as a route for lawyers to weasel their way into our industry and extract mind boggling sums of money from it. Two, a sort of MAD arms race between corporations. And three, to limit competition.

Any thoughts?

Dermit October 10, 2008 at 12:40 am

Another component in the failure of African agriculture is the EU's insistence that agricultural imports cannot be of the genetically modified sort.

vidyohs October 10, 2008 at 7:19 am

Certainly Karol Boudreaux is right in pointing out that government(s) is the cause of Africa's problems. However, to just leave it there is whitewashing what really needs to be said.

We can pretend that there are no cultural differences between the sub Saharan African peoples and (for instance) people in New Jersey, "they are just people like you and me"; but, reality is a very long long way from that.

Governments in sub Saharan African are corrupt and mostly, if not universally, tribal which means if you don't belong, you really don't belong, and that carries an implication that the people of New Jersey, Hollywood, and ignorant halls of our own Congress simply do not understand or choose to ignore.

When you don't belong in New Jersey you might be made to feel uncomfortable in your neighborhood, the hostility rarely goes beyond a civil court.

When you don't belong in Africa you might, and it frequently happens, be dragged out of your bed one night and hacked to death by crazed neighbors wielding machetes. Or, ran down on the street and killed by the method known as "necklacing" or other refined methods common in Africa such as being slaughtered a la butcher man style and your heart eaten by your killers as was done to French soldiers serving under the U.N. in the recent past, and to Belgian nuns back in the sixties.

You might not be of the right tribe, religion, sex, nationality, rebel group, whatever; the result is that not belonging in Africa can be a death sentence, not just a trip to the civil court.

Until the people of Africa, not just some individuals, get beyond that level of cultural savagery (examine Zimbabwe), left to their own devices, progress is going to continue to be painfully slow.

We're beginning to see real evidence of the slide by South Africa towards the situation in Zimbabwe. Exactly my prediction when South African regime change was forced.

"Another deal done gone bad."

Anonymous September 11, 2009 at 3:25 am

This link is broken.

Craig September 30, 2009 at 12:47 am

If your new format is designed to get more clicks — post title (click), post body with another link (click), etc., then I suspect I shall grow tired of it quickly.

Anonymous October 6, 2009 at 10:48 pm

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