Your questions to Jeffrey Sachs

All this week we’ve had a team travelling around Tanzania to find answers to the many questions raised by the current food crisis. We talked about this on WHYS on Monday. And tomorrow at 0500 GMT, Jeffrey Sachs, a leading world economist, will be live on air to answer your questions which you’re welcome to leave here.

Let me tell you a little more about Jeffrey Sachs. He’s a special advisor to the UN’s secretary-general Ban-Ki Moon. Not only that, he’s also one of the brains behind the concept of Millennium Villages. There’s 79 of these across Africa involving nearly 400,000 people and are designed to be a model of good practice to lift rural communities out of poverty.

The World Today’s Madeleine Morris will be in a Millennium Village in Tanzania during the show from 0500GMT. She’s spending the week with local farmer Lucas Chacha.

So what do you want to ask Mr Sachs about how Africa and the world can better feed itself? We’ll do our best to get you as many answers as possible.

We’re looking forward to hearing from you.

Simon, World Today

19 Responses to “Your questions to Jeffrey Sachs”

  1. 1 Xie_Ming
    May 7, 2008 at 14:09

    (1) The MIT Open Courseware offers free courses for downloading in several areas of Third-World economics. Would you recommend any one of these in particular?

    (2) There is much talk about the exploitive nature of cash crop specialization and globalization. Do you favor a more localized production for domestic consumption in Africa? If so, what are the reasons, in order of importance?

    (3) Under what general criteria should globalization be rejected in favor of local autonomy throughout the World?

    (4) How can optimal solutions be applied without detailed econometric models?

    (5) Would you favor the creation of such models for the World economy? If so, should such models be developed on a national basis and the integrated, or should integration attempted ab initio?

  2. May 7, 2008 at 14:15

    Are there areas that no matter how much aid we send to them will always need aid. Are there areas that have seen a fair amount of aid, but still the situation has gotten worse instead of better? If “yes” then why?

  3. 3 Katharina in Ghent
    May 7, 2008 at 15:26


    I would like to know how much of the food crisis in Africa is home-made through either bad maintenance/farming or civil unrest or just unfavorable nature (ie draughts). Do you think that there is an attitude problem and that if people worked harder/more reliably, harvests could be improved? If nature is to blame, would genetically modiefied crops be a solution, or could people learn new farming techniques to keep up with the changing environment?

    Thank you,

  4. 4 Brett
    May 7, 2008 at 15:31

    So what do you want to ask him about how Africa and the world can better feed itself?

    1) How does he feel about a more vegetarian approach (among many other changes) to expand the efficiency of current aggriculture and its ability to feed an increasing population. Is he a supporter of reducing meat consumption in diets?

    2) What new systems of distribution does he see for the future of foodstuffs with the increase in fuel prices? Increased rail usage? More localized farming and seasonal eatings?

    3) What does he see the governments role being in facilitating social programs to better equip people to feed themselves.

    I’ll post more as I think of them.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  5. 5 Will Rhodes
    May 7, 2008 at 16:39

    This world, no matter how many don’t want it to be, is a technological world.

    1. With the love we have for transport how does Mr Sachs feel we can adopt new technology that will still feed our need for the transport we have today. Does he feel that re-education is the way forward in teaching us all we really don’t need all the transport we have.

    2. On a personal note – and one thing that hasn’t been answered by anyone who I have asked – Gordon Brown, David Cameron, Stephen Harper, Nick Clegg and others:

    I live in Canada and my children live in the UK the quickest and cheapest way I can get to see them, and they come to see me is by flying. Is it a matter that I should pay the equivalent of 3 months salary to visit them? Is that fair on both me and my children or should I ‘suck it up’ and just find the cash?

    3. How can the west utilise technology to help the people who are starving in Africa rather than just sending money when that money never seems to get to those who need it?

  6. 6 viola anderson
    May 7, 2008 at 17:03

    As an economist, Mr. Sachs has probably read or at least knows of the book, “The End of Agriculture in the American Portfolio,” which says, “In the twenty-first century, other industries will continue to draw our increasingly scarce resources away from agriculture as the nation adjusts its portfolio to maintain the best possible return on its investments. At some point, agriculture must be dropped entirely from the portfolio because it cannot compete with the profitability of newer industries.”

    My question: In your opinion has this happened already in America, except for the current investment in food to produce fuel to supplement petroleum-based fuels?

    If this has happened or is happening, has it affected world supplies of food?

    The book envisions an expanding export-based agricultural expansion in developing nations which will give those developing nations a jump-start toward becoming prosperous

    In your opinion, does this man’s vision have merit?

  7. 7 Jay Njwelige
    May 7, 2008 at 18:53

    I believe Tanzania needs Infrastructure, large scale farming and government policy and willingness to support agriculture. What is the UN doing to support Tanzania in those areas?

    Nyerere forced Tanzanians to abandon their houses to form villages, it was catastrophic, I do not believe even for one second that villages will be the solution, it is just another test that Western always have in Africa to create jobs such as Jeffrey’s and his team. Do you agree with me?

    Most of Africa crisis are by one way or the other connected to Western policy and interest in Africa. How can UN through ambassadors like Jeffry help to stop harsh policy such of Word bank and IMF?

  8. May 7, 2008 at 20:05

    Hi my name is Natalie and I have been passing on the texts and emails on World Have Your Say tonight. Abdi-Rizak from Somalia would like to know “what is the role of African leaders to curb food crisis in their countries?”

  9. 9 Jonny
    May 7, 2008 at 20:25

    With the confluence of the global food crisis making the poor poorer and a credit crisis affecting liquidity in the West, how does your appeal and your goals/vision for foreign aid change? How far has this crisis set the world’s poor back?

  10. 10 Omunyaruguru
    May 7, 2008 at 21:10

    Am sorry to say this Sir, but a number of your previous ideas have not impressed me, like the one on bed nets last year. I also do not like your emphasis on the West ‘giving’ to Africa. Most of that giving is actualy crippling. Am looking forward to seeing you at the PEPFAR conference in Uganda next month. Are you coming?


    1. Do you think there is a sufficient understanding of the cause of food scarcity in Africa? Is it possible that we need some good studies to be done to understand this problem?

    2. To what extent do you see the economic woes of Africa as a product of colonialism. Do you think that Africa is being forced to ‘Develop.’

    3. Do you or your contemporaries have a broad view of the economic evolution of Africa over the last 300 – 400 years?

    Omunyaruguru From Kampala, Uganda

  11. 11 John Smith - Jamaica
    May 7, 2008 at 22:10

    My only problem with a lot of these programmes is that they are designed to affect the “fashionably” poor. These are the people of Africa and Asia who are constantly being highlighted by the international media. What about the poor of South and Central America, Eastern Europe and other regions which do not constantly sit in the spotlight of the world. Will they continue to be ignored whilst the powers that be help a few people in the “developing world” and then pat themselves on the back for a job well done?

  12. 12 Kay - SF, CA
    May 7, 2008 at 23:18

    In the past few years, there has been a extraordinary growth in awareness and interest in global health with the strong presence of organizations like the Gates Foundation and the Clinton Foundation.

    But at this point I see that the people who get their hands dirty and have the opportunity to “make a difference” are those who have already had a past career in business, international organizations, medicine, etc.

    How would you recommend young people (~college graduates) who are deeply interested in global health to get involved? Would it be to start working in these organizations right away and start from the “bottom”? Or is it to get some other experience first, both professionally and academically (eg, MPH, PhD, etc), so that when they do start working in these organizations, they are better “equipped” to make a difference?

    And on a related point, where are enthusiastic people needed the most in the realm of global health?

  13. 13 Mary Gravitt
    May 8, 2008 at 00:08

    I hope I am not too late with my question. It does not seem fair to force GM food on the Africans as seeds because this will tie them to the IMF and World Bank forever since these seeds cannot be saved from season. Then too will they be able to sell their crops to Europe? Or will they be bound to the US as economic slaves isolated away from markets.

    I know that the US is interested in Africa for growing bananas because the soil is fungus free and that Sweet Crude is in abundant in Subsharan Africa. This makes Africa a valuable market for the West. But how does it make it for itself. Will all of Africa be one gigantic Belgium Congo with the ghost of Leopald running around?

  14. May 8, 2008 at 00:49

    In light of recent history, can we anticipate the concept of ‘Development Villages’ to produce results similar to the economic reforms you advocated for the majority of Eastern European countries? What lessons learned, if any, are being applied to the concept of ‘Development Villages’ and what makes the idea sustainable?

  15. 15 Gila Smith
    May 8, 2008 at 07:23

    Hello Professor Sachs:

    My name is Gila Smith in Galloway, Ohio. I have just finished reading an article by Richards and Sperling titled The Silent Casualties of War. In it they talk about the loss of local seed varieties and the need for a seed bank. They explain that often seeds are sent to poor countries without any knowledge of the environmental conditions of that country. Because of war and various other reasons local farmers are unable to plant, or harvest or gather seeds fr. previous crops and they are lost forever. Is anyone addressing this issue?

  16. May 8, 2008 at 08:51

    Dear Jeffrey

    What do you think about introducing to the 3rd world voting systems which cannot be frauded? Would this produce any effect on economic development and would it reduce or eliminate poverty? Mr Alex Weir, Harare, Zimbabwe

  17. May 8, 2008 at 11:38

    hi,my question to mr jeffery is.
    world is gowing through tremendous change at present ,food habits in china,india and most of the countries in east asia are changing.if this trend continues this change will occur in the african countries in very near future.this means that people will be taking more meat based diet.it means that more cattles will be raised and these cattles will consume more grains this means that there will be less grains for people to feed,this will lead to poor people paying more for food grains.how can world work that most poor people won’t have to pay more for their food.

  18. 18 Xie_Ming
    May 8, 2008 at 12:56

    There are some researchers in California who maintain that the per capita energy consumption of the World, together with a projected minimum maintenance level, indicate that the World population is already three times too high.

    How would population control fit into Third World agricultural models?

  19. May 9, 2008 at 19:50

    Hi Jeff,

    1) How much of Africa’s poverty can be attributed to poor governance of the part of African governments?

    2) Do think think that political and economic decentralization could be good for Africa? In this case several poles of development could help stimulate the economy via the improvement of communication infrastructures.

    3)Are African political leaders more accountable to the West and the World Bank than their own populations?

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