Twenty Year Problems LO14082

Vincent R Amanor-Boadu (
Wed, 25 Jun 1997 00:29:43 -0400 (EDT)

Replying to LO14030 --

Michael posed an interesting question. I have watched, in my rather short
career, many people attempting to solve very deep problems without
understanding what the various facets of the problems are and sometimes
not even asking the "right questions." About ten years ago, I was a grad
student in Nigeria and the importation of US long grain rice was at its
peak. We conducted some informal surveys of "educated wives" who were
generally wives of professors who were also professionals. We wanted to
know why they preferred the imports to the locally grown rice. "Ease of
cooking," they all said. You see, the local rice needed one more step in
the home before cooking, i.e., picking out the stones and pebbles. It was
also not parboiled and therefore needed to be cooked for a longer period.

Now, our interest in this question was simple: As ag economists working
with local rice farmers, we saw the increasing popularity of the imports
eroding the local rice market. The market price of the imports was lower
than the cost of production of the local rice. But nobody talked about
subsidies. Indeed, all "they" wanted to do was feed the hungry.

Unfortunately, the interlinkages among the parts of the system were not
recognized. About four years ago, I visited Nigeria and checked the
marketplace for US Long grain rice. It was not as popular as the it was
before and the local rice lands were under concrete.

To solve these "twenty year" questions, we need to synthesize them into
the system that they are, not analyze them into parts and try to solve
them as such. It's really like the bulge under the carpet . . . if we
don't check to seek what it is, we might end up killing the cat.


Vincent Amanor-Boadu
George Morris Centre
102-150 Research Lane, Guelph, ON
N1G 4T2
Tel. (519) 822-3929 x206 Fax (519) 837-8721]

"Canada's Only Independent Agri-Food Think-Tank."

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Vincent R Amanor-Boadu <>

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