Bolivians Celebrating Election Results. Image Bear Guerra
For years, the American government has been trying to stomp out the growing of Coca, which is the base ingredient of Cocaine. Also for years, people have complained that American food subsidies and cheap corn exports made it impossible to compete with local crops, so coca became just about the only crop that farmers could make a living on.
Now, soaring food prices are doing what US Government policy failed to do: give farmers an option. Bolivian President Evo Morales, (also president of the coca growers union) has asked coca farmers to start growing rice and corn as a way of "holding down coca production while helping to feed the poorest country in South America."
Rice takes more land and more labour, but has tripled in price in the last year. There is also strong local demand for it, whereas other attempts to substitute products for cocaine involved export crops like bananas, where there was lots of international competition. ::IHT
It is an interesting demonstration of what happens when cheap fuel and subsidies no longer distort the marketplace: prices rise to a level to where it is possible for farmers to make a living growing food for the local market, rather than being forced into growing commodities.
More on Food Subsidies and high food prices:
Peak Everything: Eight Things We Are Running Out Of And Why ...
Rationing Comes to Costco
Peak Food - It's About Strategy :