June 2015 Issue (VOL 44 NO 2)
93 Guest Editorial: Reducing irrigation inefficiencies in water-intensive cropping – evidence from strawberry production in south-west Spain
Abstract: Agricultural commodities markets provide an important venue for the transfer and pricing of large volumes of key inputs of food production. The structure of the market and the activity and motivations of market participants are factors in pricing stability and ultimately the costs for food produced and consumed on world markets. This paper uses a modified behavioural finance model and trader categories defined by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to examine sentiment-driven price changes and speculative activity in wheat, soybean, rough rice, soybean meal, soybean oil, corn and live cattle. The paper further combines a Vector Autoregression (VAR) model and Cumby-Modest tests to describe the positive feedback trading behaviour of different investors. The analysis shows that speculators are positive feedback traders and that, while previous returns influence sentiment, sentiment does not influence returns except when sentiment is high.
Abstract: The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for the European Union agricultural sector is subject to much discussion and controversy, justifying the need for research to clarify disputed topics. This study analyses the impact of the Single Payment Scheme (one of the the most recent instruments of the CAP) on the performance of the Portuguese agricultural sector (output, employment and productivity), using a model with spatial effects based on the Cobb and Douglas (1928) concepts. Data for 2010 concerning Portuguese municipalities were used, taking into account information from the Institute of Finance of Agriculture and Fisheries (IFAP) and Statistics Portugal (INE, 2013). The analyses show that the Single Payment Scheme could be better adjusted to the Portuguese situation, considering that it does not clearly promote agricultural activity outside the traditional zones and does not explicitly improve farming output. For the variables considered, the spatial autocorrelation also provides insights into the support of future agricultural policy development.
Abstract: Estimates of the magnitude and location of future irrigation demand are essential for strategic planning of water resources at national and regional levels. However, demand forecasting is fraught with difficulty, as water use for supplementary irrigation is highly sensitive to changes in agro- economic policy, climate and future water resources availability. Short-term forecasts are normally based on existing trends, modified by any expected variations. Following a long period of growth, the volume of water being abstracted for irrigation in England and Wales appears to be in decline. After allowing for annual weather variations, the underlying decline in dry year demand was –1.4% per annum from 1990 to 2010. Extrapolating these trends forward suggests a further reduction of around one-quarter (–25%) by 2030. However longer-term forecasts (to the 2050s) need to consider alternative possible futures. The authors used a combination methodology to incorporate changes in population demographics, consumption and consumer preferences under a range of socioeconomic policies for four defined socioeconomic futures. The projected changes in ‘unconstrained’ demand in a dry year ranged from +40% to +167% by the 2050s; ‘actual’ water use will be constrained by water availability and allocation policy, which itself may lead to a relocation of demand. Combined with a probable decline in low-flow (summer) water availability, this indicates major future water resource issues. The figures need to be interpreted with caution as they are sensitive to model input values, and ignore impacts of step-change genetic improvements and the effects of changing CO2 concentrations on crop growth. The differences between forecasts also highlight the sensitivity to assumptions and the potential impact of deeper-seated changes on current trends. Some policy options and potential adaptations are discussed.
Abstract: International trade in table grapes has expanded tremendously over the last few decades, with out-of-season fresh produce now being traded and consumed globally. Trade intensification has been driven by emerging traders who have changed the economic geography of table grape production. Improving competitiveness in global markets is a driving objective for entrepreneurs and policy makers. However, while the global trade in table grapes has become very important, empirical papers on the topic are limited. In this study, the authors investigate the global dynamics in the trade of table grapes between 1961 and 2011 and characterize the time series properties of the market shares for leading table grape-exporting countries. The analysis shows how trends in the market shares of historical exporters and emerging countries have changed over the past few decades. The paper provides new and useful insights for forecasting the prospects for the international fresh food trade.
Abstract: The Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC) is an important environmental indicator that exhibits an inverted U-shaped curve between a specific measure of environmental pollution and per capita income. The environmental pollution risk parameter used in this study was inorganic fertilizer. The study assessed a Critical Environmental Risk Threshold (CERT) value by considering basic variables, such as the amount of long-term total groundwater, arable land, Nitrate Vulnerable Zones and water withdrawal rates. The CERT value could provide researchers and policy makers with new insights into whether or not countries are exceeding their critical environmental threshold points. The countries investigated included Germany, the Netherlands, Turkey, India, Spain, France, Italy, China, Brazil and the USA. The results indicate that the use of inorganic fertilizer in the Netherlands and Germany exceeds their relative turning points above their CERT values and that these countries should therefore review their agri-environmental management policies.
Abstract: For many developing countries, agriculture is the cornerstone of their economy. Whilst extreme weather events are an accepted phenomenon in some Latin American countries, others such as Bolivia and Peru are not so used to their apparently increasing frequency. Developing new policies and strategies to cope with climate change and its associated extreme events therefore requires robust knowledge on the reported impacts, consequences and implications. This paper presents the findings from a systematic review of published evidence on the impacts of climate change on cropping systems and rural livelihoods across a range of agricultural and socio-technical dimensions. Adaptation measures need to consider not only the weather and physical dimensions of climate change, but also its social consequences. Factors influencing agriculture, including water resource impacts, crop profitability, environmental constraints, social and political transformations, and traditional knowledge and practices, were identified and reviewed to provide a comprehensive assessment of these key aspects, which are highly relevant to the region.
Abstract: A global mix of challenges has stimulated the development of alternative food production and distribution systems in an attempt to achieve food sovereignty and minimize the distance (geographical, social and economic) between rural and urban regions and between producers/farmers and consumers/urban dwellers. This paper questions how far our food comes and how well the city is connected to local producers. Using participant observations at five retail venues, the author calculates the food miles for several types of fruit and vegetables and identifies the peri-urban farmers that serve the city. Using a three-stage Delphi technique, she focuses on the most likely future conditions for agro-food production and local food systems. To overcome the effects of the economic crisis and change the dominant role of the agro-food system, farmers believe they can survive without middlemen.
Abstract: Sustainable rural food systems for poor and vulnerable people need to be locally adapted to enhance food security. This requires participatory action research that considers the entire food value chain (FVC). This paper presents an assessment of the feasibility and potential success of upgrading strategies (UPS) for enhancing food security based on a study that was part of a larger participatory research project in two regions of Tanzania. The authors present the results relating to natural resource management and crop production. The results for natural resources show that enhanced soil water management was rated as high for the semi-arid Dodoma region. For the Morogoro region, the experts favoured soil fertility-improving UPS, such as conservation agriculture and agroforestry. Assessments of food production for both regions indicated the importance of intercropping, manure input, pest and disease control and cover crops. Assessments differed greatly between the two different climatic regions, and to a lesser extent between the nationality of the experts and their gender. This highlights the importance of including different South–North and female–male awareness in assessments. Implementation feasibility assessments of UPS indicated that the most suitable approaches were rainwater harvesting for semi-arid and conservation agriculture for subhumid regions respectively. Local and/or regional stakeholders and experts should be involved in developing and assessing site- adapted UPS for enhancing Tanzanian FVCs.