Commodities

TRADE: Glencore: Profiteering From Hunger and Chaos

The rapid rise in prices for food, fuel and commodities has been disastrous for the world's poor, including Indonesian market vendor Lia Romi. But it's a bonanza for multinational trading firms such as Glencore.

Tobacco leaves drying - Malawi, like other LDCs, is exposed to volatile prices of commodity exports. Credit:  Pappahase/Wikicommons

DEVELOPMENT: Plotting a World Without LDCs

Malawi's gross domestic product has grown by more than six percent in each year since 2005. The country's most recent Welfare Monitoring Survey finds unemployment stands at just one percent. At a glance, Malawi makes being a landlocked, least developed country almost desirable.

UNCTAD's James Zhan: Emergent powers such as China and Brazil provide LDCs with more opportunities to attract investment. Credit: Isolda Agazzi/IPS

AFRICA: Investment Growth Benefiting Only Some Poor States

While foreign direct investment in least developed countries (LDCs) in Africa has risen sharply over the past decade, most of it went to resource-rich economies and had little impact on employment creation.

Mining truck at Nchanga: strong economic growth on the back of commodity exports is not enough. Credit:  Blue Salo/Wikicommons

DEVELOPMENT-ZAMBIA: ‘Real Changes Needed in Policy and Implementation’

Zambia has enjoyed economic growth of around six percent per year over the past decade, says Patrick Mucheleka, but the government is failing to translate this into social and economic development for the majority of citizens. The upcoming conference on least developed countries in Turkey offers an opportunity to recalibrate the country's approach to development.

LATIN AMERICA: Boosting Accountability for Mining and Oil Industries

Guatemala has been accepted as a candidate country by the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), which aims to strengthen governance by improving transparency and accountability in the sector, and to reduce tensions between mining and oil companies and local people affected by their activities.

BRAZIL: Sugar Cane Fertilises Its Own Soil

The mechanisation of sugar cane harvesting, originally aimed at curbing the pollution caused by the burning of cane fields, has resulted in an added bonus: it has helped to improve soil quality, according to growers and technical experts in the southern state of São Paulo, where most of Brazil’s sugar and ethanol is produced.

BRAZIL: Science and Sugar Cane Produce Versatile Harvest

For nearly five hundred years, sugar cane was used almost exclusively for making sugar, with a handful of by-products like rum, alcohol and molasses. Now, in Brazil, it has become a source of multiple derivatives, and the focus of much scientific and technological research.

(l-r) Farm manager Brian Ngwenya with farm owner Kindness Paradza. Credit: Stanley Kwenda/IPS

ZIMBABWE: Farmers Sceptical About “Complicated” Exchange Market

Kindness Paradza has a mission. After he lost his job as a journalist when the ZANU-PF government closed his newspaper in 2004, he ploughed his life savings into a 2,000 ha farm he received as part of Zimbabwe’s controversial "land reform programme".

Malawian cotton bales on their way to the market. Credit: Claire Ngozo/IPS

AGRICULTURE: Malawian Cotton Farmers Ecstatic Over High Prices

An ardent listener to the radio, small-scale cotton farmer Mercy Kaduya from Chikhwawa in Nsanje in southern Malawi has just heard on the international news segment that cotton prices have hit a record high on the international market.

Solar panel installed in the village of Sholani. Credit: Zofeen Ebrahim/IPS

PAKISTAN: And Then There Was Light

Hasan Ibrahim’s tea stall is the busiest place in the sleepy, sand-dune covered village of Sholani, proof of the economic and social change the arrival of electricity has ushered in.

Sugar cane stretches to the horizon around Ribeirão Preto. Credit: Mario Osava/IPS

Sugar Cane and Ethanol Boom Drives Development in Southern Brazil

The roads are exceptionally good and numerous here, in contrast with other parts of Brazil, but the monotony of the landscape is not inviting to tourists. Sugar cane fields stretch to the horizon along a 400-km stretch of highway to the north of São Paulo.

MALI: Early Anxiety Over Price of Grain

In the small village of Gwélékoro, 60 kilometres south of the capital, Bamako, the fields are empty now, during the dry season. After a poor harvest, farmers are worried by swiftly rising prices for staple foods like sorghum and millet.

Manufacturing in Africa Can be Profitable – And Developmental

Investing in adding value to raw materials is crucial for the development of the African continent.

Nozipho January-Bardill, group executive for corporate affairs at Mobile Telephone Networks (MTN), a South African company. Credit: Isolda Agazzi/IPS

Investment in African Economies Shifting Away from Raw Materials

Local and foreign investment on the African continent is slowly moving away from agriculture and raw materials to manufacturing, services, communication and tourism, despite poor infrastructure and low skills levels.

Ivorian cocoa producers are keeping their harvests on the farm due to European Union sanctions. Credit:  Fulgence Zamblé/IPS

Ivorian Cocoa Producers Cry Foul Over Sanctions

The international community's efforts to deny embattled president Laurent Gbagbo access to funds from cocoa exports have resulted in hundreds of thousands of tonnes of Ivorian cocoa surfacing in neighbouring countries.

Soaring Commodity Prices a Mixed Bag for Mexico

While Mexico is earning more revenue from oil exports, the cost of food imports has risen to the point where food security is threatened.

Farmer Stanley Nasasa of Bukalasi, Uganda, shows washed coffee beans. Credit: Wambi Michael/IPS

DEVELOPMENT-UGANDA: Better Coffee Brings Better Living Conditions

Producing quality Arabica coffee beans on the slopes of Mount Elgon in eastern Uganda is only viable once farmers are assured ready access to the global market. Fair trade has made this possible.

Chinese Labourers on their way to work in central Luanda. Credit: Louise Redvers/IPS

Questions About China’s “Win-Win” Relationship With Angola

Crouched on their haunches on the edge of a crumbling pavement, a group of Chinese construction workers are eating noodles from tin bowls, wearing floppy straw hats under their green safety helmets to protect them from the aggressive midday sun.

Farmer Sera Nafungo picking coffee berries in Bukalasi, eastern Uganda. Credit: Wambi Michael/IPS

DEVELOPMENT-UGANDA: Fair Trade Gives Coffee Farming a Lift

The cultivation of coffee beans for fair trade has turned the fortunes of this historical cash crop around in some poor rural areas on the slopes of Mount Elgon in eastern Uganda.

AFRICA: France Plays Suspicious Role in Countries in Crisis

The three African states in which political crises have recently erupted – Côte d’Ivoire, Niger and Tunisia – all feature a strong French economic presence as well as close military and political ties to the former European colonial power, with France at times playing a protective role towards elites accused of abuses.

Caudalosa workers clean up mining tailings in the Opamayo River.  Credit: Milagros Salazar/IPS

PERU: Environmental Crime Doesn’t Pay

A legislative bill in Peru aims to channel the fines for environmental crimes to repair the damages to rivers, soils and other public goods that directly affect the population. Until now, the fines collected have ended up elsewhere in the government.

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