Monday, June 7, 2010

Bruised Mangos

Economic development isn't easy. This American Life had a great recent episode on Haiti. The first story focuses on the mango industry. The reporters talk to a local exporter named the Mango Man who is trying to earn more money and in turn help the poor farmers that sell him mangoes. He could sell a lot more mangoes to Americans if only the mangoes weren't bruised from sitting around on farms or under beds of poor mango farmers. He tries to give out plastic crates to have the farmers store the mangoes and preventing bruising. The crates aren't used for mangoes but for chairs and he looks for other help. He tries an NGO who specializes in mangoes, but it only leads to more problems stemming from NGO rules, land tenure, lack of credit access, farming knowledge, port access, and then finally the earth quake.

The story really shows that even with a bunch of smart people with good intentions with local knowledge improving economic conditions is hard because there are so many problems.

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