Saturday, June 26, 2010

NPR's Planet Money on Jamaican Tomatoes

Although this NPR story rehashes much of what Stephanie Black's 2001 film Life & Debt covered, its a reminder that access to better means of production and markets to sell goods is what keeps developing nations like Jamaica from participating fully in the global economy. And the US is not immune to such struggles.

Currently, the US is pressuring China to reduce its exports and deflate the value of its currency. The US is being flooded by cheap Chinese goods in the same way that American powdered milk and foreign-grown tomatoes flood Jamaica's supermarket shelves. Last I checked, you could get 37 Jamaican dollars for 1 US dollar. Will the US play fair when Jamaica asks us to revalue our currency?

NRP introduction: In a country like Jamaica you can buy tomatoes grown in Mexico and shipped by a broker in Florida that are cheaper than tomatoes grown by farmers just a couple of hours away from Kingston. The phenomenon is a mystery of economics and something that keeps farmers in developing countries mired in poverty.