The Los Angeles Times reckons it knows the causes of Ethiopia’s famines:
Simply put, the nation, in which 85% of people toil as small farmers, has reached a point where it can’t easily grow enough food to meet its needs. Although agricultural production has increased overall, it has declined per capita, according to the World Bank.
This is a complete pile of piffle. Overpopulation is not the problem:
- Population density is about 70 people per km2 in Ethiopia. That may seem a lot – it is about twice the density of the US. But Nigeria has a population density of 142 p/km2; China 138 p/km2; Sri Lanka 316 p/km2; Rwanda 343 p/km2; South Korea 498 p/km2. There is no famine in any of those countries. So why is 70 people per square km too many in Ethiopia?
- There was famine in Ethiopia in both the 1970s and 1980s, when the population was one third and one half, respectively, of the population today.
- Of Ethiopia’s 113 million hectares, less than 5% is currently irrigated. Ethiopia is the water tower of East Africa, with huge natural resources. But it is one of the lowest ranked countries in the world in the use of irrigation, fertilizers, modified seeds, tractors and other technologies that would multiply agricultural production.
The problem in Ethiopia’s agriculture is not shortage of land relative to the size of the population but shortage of resources, especially money and appropriate technology.
You have to wonder at lazy journalism like this. Is there a whiff of racism in the knee-jerk assumption that Ethiopia’s problem is that there are “too many of them”?