Is Obesity a Development Issue?

October 7, 2010
At a recent meeting of Oxfam’s country directors, I asked if they thought Oxfam should treat obesity as a development issue, just another form of ‘mal-nutrition’. The reaction was pretty negative. Innocent Nkata, from South Africa (left), summed it up by saying that whereas hunger was an issue of rights, obesity is a ‘question of morality’ i.e. is it right

How can Ethiopia’s coffee farmers get more from your $3 latte?

September 30, 2010
According to legend Kaldi (left), a 9th Century Ethiopian goatherd, discovered coffee when he saw his flock start leaping around after nibbling the bright red berries of a certain bush. He gave them a try, and the ensuing buzz prompted him to bring the berries to an Islamic holy man in a nearby monastery. The holy man disapproved of their use

Should we buy roses from Ethiopia?

September 28, 2010
OK, back to Ethiopia week. On leaving Addis, we head off to the Rift Valley on one of Ethiopia’s many excellent roads (shame about the driving…) to an enormous flower farm owned by a company called Sher, which rents them out to three large Dutch flower companies, including Herburg Roses Ethiopia plc, who we are meeting. And I mean enormous

How butter leads to women’s emancipation: a self help group in Ethiopia

September 24, 2010
In societies where women are traditionally confined to the home and denied any voice, how can NGOs help bring them together? Ethiopia week on the blog continues with a visit to a women’s group supported by an Oxfam partner, Rift Valley Children and Women Development. On the way, Hussen Delecha, an ex-Save the Children staffer who decided to switch to

So do food price spikes cause riots or not?

September 7, 2010
I’m a big fan of Chris Blattman’s blog (as the number of ‘hat tips’ – [h/t] – on this one demonstrates), but he lost it a bit in his recent post on food riots. Here’s what he says: ‘Globalization and growth should reduce price spikes in future. More countries are producing crops. Climate shocks in Argentina are not that tied

Is food the new oil? Fertiliser wars and Brazil as food superpower

August 30, 2010
In the Financial Times, Javier Blas gives us the back-story to the attempt by the world’s largest mining company, BHP Billiton, to buy its largest fertiliser company, PotashCorp. Suddenly fertiliser is big business: in the first eight months of the year, deals valued at $61bn have been announced by companies in the industry, a high that more than doubles the peak