Having read and re-read the copy of the report [on my article 'The Politics of Hunger'], I feel I should offer the following comments.
Far from being unaware or having no understanding of the literature concerning the need for devaluation of currencies in many LDCs, as the report's author suggests, I am familiar with this line of thought and, indeed, acknowledge in my article that overvaluation was a real problem. Taking one country at a time and looking simply at the issue of devaluation, ceteris paribus, the arguments for devaluation may well hold true. What we have to bear in mind, however, is that Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) do not only concern themselves with the problems of a currency's relative value, but include a large number of other stipulations. Nor are SAPs merely applied to one country at a time, where - being generous - they might have a chance of having some long-term beneficial effect, but rather have been applied to a large number of primary commodity exporting countries simultaneously. Looking at the market as a whole - something that both your reviewer and the World Bank have failed to do - it shouldn't be too difficult to work out that currency devaluation Plus increased exports in several countries exporting the same commodities leads to a drop in world market prices and, therefore, Dollar earnings. As Susan George and Fabrizio Sabelli argue in Faith and Credit, "it doesn't take a Ph.D. in economics to foresee gluts and falling prices for everyone. (Penguin, 1994). Incidentally, devaluation does not only make imported luxuries more expensive, it also makes imported pesticides, herbicides, medicines, petroleum and other necessities more expensive.
In looking at small-scale farming it's not only a matter of productivity, but also the other real benefits in terms of local, economic and social (re)-generation it brings. In other words, tangible economic development at the local level, which is not only democratically empowering but, ultimately, must benefit the nation as a whole..
Whilst my claim regarding potable water might be said to be somewhat contentious, it also has to be said that the IMF and World Bank DO stipulate savage cuts in public spending under SAPs, even insisting on cuts in health budgets (arguably small in the first place), education agricultural and food subsidies. Strangely enough, they do not insist on, or even mention, cuts in military spending. This is possibly due to the fact that both organisations are controlled by the world's major weapons exporters.
The point of my article, however, was not a review of the IMF and World Bank, not a critique of SAPs. What I was attempting to demonstrate is that the issue of food security is, essentially, a political one; that there is more than enough food to go around and that hunger and poverty are a direct result of the manner in which the Global Political Economy operates. It was, therefore, an overview that aimed to make the reader aware of some of the main issues involved. As such, it was not possible to provide in-depth analyses of any of those issues. Whilst I happily plead guilty to citing mainly "NGO type literature", this is not due to any lack of understanding of anything else, but rather because the more conventional 'wisdom', particularly that of what passes for economics, is so sadly lacking.
Like it not, blind adherence to what, in my opinion, are outdated economic doctrines - such as comparative advantage, market liberalisation, privatision, etc. - has led to a huge increase in the number of people living in poverty in ALL countries. Similarly the disparity between rich and poor has grown to unprecedented levels. It is, in my opinion, time to stop trying to support the insupportable. Economics is not merely about numbers, it is not merely about growth measured in terms of GNP or GDP. The bottom line is not profit but people; economic decisions are life and death decisions for a growing number of the world's people. A more "scholarly" article might have overlooked this unsavory fact, I make no apology for not having done so. I should be interested in what "a more careful assessment of the evidence" might provide.
Finally, I cannot imagine where the author of the report gets his/her facts, my data regarding "small is beautiful agriculture" comes from the latest sources, including the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture). In their 1998 report, "Time to Act", they call for a change in policies toward favoring small farms. I would respectfully refer the author of the report to "The Multiple Functions and Benefits of Small Farm Agriculture", a 1999 report by Peter M Rosset for the FAO/Netherlands Conference on the Multifunctional Character of Agriculture and Land, 12-17 September 1999, Maastricht, The Netherlands. This is available online at www.worldcom.nl/tni and includes a useful bibliography. Just to remove any doubt, whilst it is probably correct to argue that comparisons of one crop, for example maize, will usually show greater yields per acre for large farms, it is also true to say that small farms require fewer costly inputs and utlise more of the land per acre. These points were, however, raised in my article.