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Tobacco has been a large industry ever since it was brought to Europe centuries ago. The American plant took off in popularity, becoming a commonly used product worldwide to be smoked and chewed. One of the primary factors causing tobacco consumption is the addictive nicotine found inside. Smoking continued to rise in popularity until its peak in 1963, where roughly 11 cigarettes were purchased per person per day in the United States. Other countries appeared to have a slightly later peak in popularity for smoking. In 1972, Switzerland approached its peak, resulting in Swiss smoking temporarily surpassing the rates of the U.S. Other countries, such as Germany and Japan, also experienced their highest rates in the 1970s. The United States and Switzerland had significant declines in sales after their peaks, though many other countries did not experience these rapid declines in cigarette sales until the early 2000s. Nowadays, many countries that have the highest rates of smoking tend to be in Europe, such as France, Germany, and Greece.

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From cheese to milk to butter, yogurt, and ice cream, dairy is found in many forms across the globe and is used and consumed in a multitude of ways throughout the world’s varying cultures.  Dairy plays an essential role as the base ingredient of many foods and is a major industrial product in many economies.  The main source of dairy comes from cows, which can be raised and bred in mass numbers to obtain product that satisfies the demand of the population.

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Halloween, or All Hallows’ Eve, wouldn’t be complete without one of its most distinguishing symbols—the pumpkin.  Each year, people from countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Ireland purchase, pick, carve, and/or display these bright orange gourds in celebration of Halloween.  Pumpkins also mark an essential decoration, food staple, and representation of the fall season, and consequently have a significant place in the global economy.

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In the 2000’s it was the internet, in the 2010’s it was social tech companies, the next big market disruptor of our generation is Agri-Tech. With the world population expected to reach 8.5 billion people by the mid-2030’s, and the continued degradation of the environment due to pollution, the need for more and better food is increasing.

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It is no surprise that the proposed Chinese tariffs looming over American agricultural industries such as soybeans, fruit, nuts, wine, and pork have the potential to greatly affect not only the companies and farmers that they target but the everyday Chinese consumers who purchase those products as well. If the duties are imposed, they will raise the cost of American imported goods in China to a point that exported goods from other countries may become a more valuable and competitive option than those from the United States.

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Fair Trade has been around since the 1950s, but what exactly is Fair Trade and how has it changed since its inception? Fair Trade is global movement focused on providing over 1.6 million small-scale producers and workers with fair prices. It is an approach to commerce that eliminates forced labor, child labor, and discrimination while demanding safe working conditions, fair payment, respect for the environment, and transparency. It is an ethical method to trade and works towards alleviating poverty and sustaining development in developing nations.

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This is part four of this week's five-part blog series on cash crops.

South America was colonized by the Spanish and the Portuguese.  These colonies were extremely profitable for Spain and Portugal because they could plant crops there that they could not plant in Europe.  This lead to the production of cash crops in South America, such as coffee and sugarcane, to be traded and sold in Europe.  These cash crops played a large role in establishing the colonies in South America, and still play an important role in their economy today. 

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This week the globalEDGE blog will look at cash crops around the world.  Cash crops are crops that are grown specifically to be sold in a marketplace or traded; essentially a crop grown not for direct consumption by the farmer.  Cash crops have played a large role in shaping the world throughout history.  A major factor in the colonization of the New World were the dollar signs investors saw in cash crops like tobacco and cotton in the Americas.  The only reason that the New World was even discovered was because Europeans were looking for a faster route to reach China and India to trade for their tea and other spices. Tea and most spices are products of cash crops.  

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With the population in India increasing and the need for a sustainable food supply being so important, a multi million dollar investment that is backed by the World Bank has gone into place. The main goal of this initiative is to boost the agricultural industry in India. This goal will be achieved by educating the new generation and equipping them with the skills needed to be successful in agricultural business.

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Due to unsuccessful harvests and rises in demand, avocado prices are predicted to double this summer. This delicious green fruit has grown in popularity over the past few years because of the nutrients and vitamins it contains, “making it a favorite for fitness gurus and the health conscious,” according to The Independent. However, due to high demand, prices have climbed significantly.

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The Russian economy has been hit hard by the global drop in oil prices, which began in the summer of 2014. Oil prices, once over $110, now sit slightly above $50. Oil exports are a vital component of the Russian economy and made up $250 billion of the country’s exports until the collapse in prices. Today, oil exports only amount to $60 billion, a 75% drop. To combat the reduction in oil exports, the Russian government has been working hard to build up the country’s agriculture industry. The government’s efforts, along with positive impacts from European Union sanctions, are beginning to make a difference and are shaking up the global dynamics of the agriculture industry.

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Since 2006 the rate at which beehives die has jumped from 5-10% a year to about 30%. In the United States roughly 10 million beehives, worth an estimated $2 billion, died from 2006-2015. These statistics become even more alarming when you realize how important bees are to the world’s economy. Bees have been identified by a United Nations Environment Programme report as the most economically important pollinators in the majority of the world’s regions. There are 100 crop species that provide 90% of the world’s food. 71 of these crop species are pollinated by bees. Almonds, pumpkins, and cucumbers are almost entirely dependent on bees for pollination. California produces 82% of all the almonds in the world. About 70% of the almonds California produces are exported to other countries, coming out to over $2.5 billion in revenue for California. The production of almonds in California would become nearly impossible without the presence of bees.

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Agriculture has been, and always will be, a crucial part of our existence. This industry is continually evolving; in the past, improvements consisted of machinery becoming more effective, or incorporating animals into the seeding and harvesting process. Today, technology is playing the biggest part in how we grow our food. In 1900, around 41% of America's labor force was employed through the agriculture industry alone. Today, due to countless technological advances, the proportion is now below 2%.

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Over the past few decades, the global agriculture industry has been forced to adjust to sweeping societal changes, including booming population growth, increasing urbanization, decreasing rural populations, and a steep decline in the number of farmers. The industry has been able to shift in certain ways in order to face these challenges—technological incorporation, increased production efficiency, and a focus on mass industrial output. However, the escalating symptoms of climate change are impacting agriculture on a much more devastating scale. Crop harvesting, fertilization, irrigation, and food production are all hit by the effects of climate change, affecting the living standards of populations the world over.

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There are a wide variety of successes and shortcomings currently taking place within the Latin American agriculture industry. President Michel Temer of Brazil and President Mauricio Macri of Argentina met last week to discuss the status of sugar in the Mercosur trade bloc. Mercosur includes countries such as Uruguay, Paraguay, and Venezuela, and currently, sugar is not included on the list of goods that are subject to free trade in the trade bloc. Farmers in Argentina fear that if current levies are withdrawn, there will be a downpour of cheaper Brazilian sugar into the country. Brazil is the world’s largest producer and exporter of sugar due to its favorable conditions for cane cultivation, which gives Argentina a good reason to be concerned. However, Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi stated that Brazil would try to include sugar in the negotiations between Mercosur and the European Union. Read more about current events in Latin America’s agriculture giants below.

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After a long period of droughts in Zimbabwe, persistent rains in the region renewed hope for farmers across South Africa that food shortages might finally let up. A lengthy drought seemed to be the worst of the agricultural industry's problem, but a new pest has taken over those fears and multiplied them. An outbreak of armyworms in countries like Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Malawi threaten the crop yield for the coming year.

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This week, the globalEDGE blog will be taking a look at the global agriculture industry and its relevance to the international business world. In the following four days, we will look at current stories pertaining to the industry, including a look at Latin America and South Africa, along with how climate change is impacting farmers. On Friday, we will look toward the future, at how new techniques and technologies might improve the economic environment of the industry.

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China has recently stated its intentions to produce rain over five dry provinces in the country’s northwest. To accomplish this, the Chinese government plans to use a technique called cloud seeding. Cloud seeding involves inserting a substance, usually silver iodine or dry ice, into a cloud. The goal of this is to alter the precipitation the cloud produces. The most common way for China has practiced cloud seeding in the past is to disperse silver iodide into the sky in the location which rain was desired. In early 2009, China experienced a three day long continuous snowfall which ended its longest period of drought in nearly 40 years.  China hailed this result as a great success for their cloud seeding program; however, many scientists dispute claims that cloud seeding works at all. Other scientist point to events like China’s incredibly heavy 2009 snowfall as evidence that cloud seeding is effective in increasing precipitation levels. 

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After suffering a drop in soybean yields due to a drought this past year, Brazil is now facing a large shortage in its corn harvest. While many farmers had planted the corn seeds during good weather conditions, more hot and dry weather hit Brazil causing the second harvest of crops that were in the process of forming to die out.

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Despite the fact that shares of the world's top tobacco companies reached record highs in recent weeks, AXA, one of the world's biggest insurers, has decided to sell all of its assets in the tobacco industry. Over $2 billion in assets will be divested, and AXA will cease all further investment. This huge announcement follows new tobacco laws in the United Kingdom regarding uniform packaging, as well as large graphical health warnings that will go into effect in less than a year. With investors retracting funds and government laws emphasizing health concerns, will this mark the beginning of the end for the tobacco industry? 

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The sugar industry could be seeing big changes in the coming years, jump started when the European Union announced a liberalization of their sugar policies. The new sugar policy will allow farmers to produce more sugar, as production quotas and minimum payments have been abolished. With the new rules, the EU expects to become a net exporter of sugar for the first time since 2005, which will impact sugar farmers internationally, especially those used to importing to Europe.

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Oudtshoorn, the capital of ostrich industry, has been enjoying prosperity from ostrich farming since the 1880s. These big-eyed birds provide jobs to the locals and attract tourists from all over the world. Before I went on this trip to South Africa, I never knew ostrich farming could be turned into a profitable business. During the visit, I observed several advantages and disadvantages of ostrich farming.

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A devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the South Asian mountain nation of Nepal on Saturday, April 25th. The quake caused almost 25,000 casualties including over 7,500 deaths. The earthquake also triggered massive avalanches in the mountains including one on Mount Everest that killed 19 people. In addition to this tragic human trauma, Nepal will be adversely affected by the economic aftershocks of this disaster for years to come.

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Last Friday, the United Nations announced that the world may be facing a major shortage of water supplies in about fifteen years. Available water for consumption and other uses may be reduced by 40% as a result of factors such as urbanization, high living standards, heavy industry usage, and booming population growth. The report calls for drastic measures to keep freshwater as a readily available resource for the future, as some regions of the world are already starting to run out of water and aquifers are becoming exploited beyond a sustainable level. This will mean cutting down on heavy water consumption and use, a move which will affect people and industries worldwide.

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Recently, an Indian activist named Kailash Satyarthi won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to protect the rights of children in the global labor force. Satyarthi created a South Asian Coalition on Child Servitude which has battled child labor by raiding factories across India and liberating more than 40,000 bonded workers. He has also campaigned for increased legislature banning child labor and created a global campaign against the issue, made up of over 2,000 civil society organizations around the world. Despite Satyarthi’s efforts, child labor is still prevalent in many poor countries, and laws that directly ban the practice can do more bad than good.

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While Liberia was trying to become the next economic superstar in Africa, Ebola came and brought a sharp break in economic growth. The decline in growth is not just happening in Liberia. Across Africa, The Ebola outbreak has brought a series of pessimistic consequences: construction has halted, people have lost jobs, and foreign investors have left. Above all, Ebola has ravaged the health sector and the agriculture industry.

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In 2013, global meat production reached its highest level at 308.5 million tons, a 1.4% increase from the prior year. Due to a number of factors such as growing purchasing power, urbanization, and changing diets, the WorldWatch Report has determined that meat production has increased more than fourfold since 1961. The report was accompanied by a press release titled “Peak Meat Production Strains Land and Water Resources”, which additionally stated that meat production has increased 25-fold in the last two centuries. Although this has positive side effects for those working in the meat industry, the implications for the environment could be detrimental.

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As South America’s largest market, Brazil is becoming a global player with increasing consumer expenditure. Between 2007 and 2012, Brazilian consumer spending on food and non-alcoholic beverages increased 71.4% due to an expanding middle class, according to Euromonitor. American food and agriculture exporters have the potential to tap into this growing market.

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Over the years, Vietnam has been consistently at battle with the United States over the trade of catfish. The country’s ability to export catfish for a lesser price has made them a top exporter and caused the domestic industry to contract by 60% in the last decade. With local catfish farmers losing money, a so called war was waged starting in 2008 with the introduction of a catfish inspection program by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And although the program has yet to go into effect, numerous Pacific exporters are already protesting its introduction.

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The price for a cup of coffee could rise in the coming months, as a fungus, known as coffee rust, hits the coffee crop throughout South and Central America. The fungus, which cannot be treated, has significantly affected much of the crop in several major coffee producing countries, such as Brazil, Ecuador, Columbia, and Mexico. In Guatemala, officials have estimated that an incredible 70 percent of the crop is infected, worrying farmers across the country who depend on coffee sales. The loss of such a large portion of the world’s coffee supply will force prices up, impacting people in countries around the globe, as well as many major food corporations that rely on coffee.

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The international marketplace offers great opportunities to Michigan food companies who wish to increase sales. Worldwide, consumer food product exports are growing three times faster than U.S. sales. Though exporting can seem intimidating, Michigan food and agriculture companies can look to upcoming export assistance programs that are happening nearby in Grand Rapids and Canada as a way to enter export markets.

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The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s (MDARD) International Marketing Program annually recognizes a leading food and agriculture exporter through its ‘Michigan Ag Exporter of the Year’ award to a deserving Michigan food or agriculture company. This special honor can bring further success, signaling to international buyers a company’s quality and commitment to exporting.

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When one strolls into their favorite coffee shop on a typical arctic-conditions day like the ones we've been enjoying in Michigan lately, they usually see coffee beans imported from well known "coffee countries," such as Colombia, Brazil, or perhaps an African country like Ethiopia, Kenya, or a rising coffee-exporting nation like Zambia. In spite of this, reports show that Vietnam is actually the world's second largest exporter of coffee, with its share of the global market rising nearly 20% within the last 30 years. Vietnam's coffee industry, which employs 2.6 million people, produced nearly 3 billion pounds of coffee in 2012-2013. The country's coffee exports have landed primarily in Germany and the United States, but imports from other European Union countries, as well as Japan and South Korea, have also contributed to Vietnam's rapid and surprising growth in coffee exports.

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The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is offering Michigan food companies multiple opportunities to exhibit within Michigan Pavilions at the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) Show and the National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show. The shows offer businesses a unique, helpful, and affordable way to showcase products under the Michigan name, known globally for outstanding quality. In previous years, over $600,000 in actual sales were reported with $3 million in anticipated sales!

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With one third of the world’s poor population located in India, the emerging country of India has been striving to help its people achieve a better standard of living. Thanks to the programs that are provided by the government to alleviate poverty, India’s economy has grown steadily over the years. When the government noticed that the world’s most extreme poverty rates fall in rural Orissa and Bihar, it began to focus on farm subsidy programs, with hopes of lifting the economic level of these rural regions. However, its farm subsidies are challenging the World Trade Organization's (WTO) ability to keep an important international trade deal on table.

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The small Caribbean nation of Grenada lies around one hundred twenty-five miles north of Venezuela, between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It has always had an economy built off of its island paradise lifestyle with its beautiful blue water, beaches, and landscape. This style of economy for such a small nation can only carry it so far, but Grenada now has other plans to help it make an international presence.

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It’s not too early to start planning for 2014! The 2014 year holds an extensive list of Food Export Association activities, programs, and services to help exporters of Michigan food and agricultural products begin or expand their international sales. They provide educational programs, export promotions, customized export assistance, market entry support, and a cost-share funding program. The 2014 Food Export Activity Calendar includes the dates, locations, and other details about buyers’ missions, seminars, focused trade missions, and more!

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Exports continue to help grow and expand Michigan’s food and agriculture economy, while generating nearly $2.8 billion in economic activity with support from the nation’s second most diverse agriculture industry, strong public and private investment, and a diversified portfolio for food processing. Exports of consumer food products are growing three times faster than sales in the United States due to the foreign consumers’ growing purchasing power and lower trade barriers. Thus, exporting is vital to Michigan companies as an opportunity to increase sales and profits, as 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside of the United States. Moreover, food and agriculture producers can reduce dependence on existing domestic markets, and off-set slow sales due to economic changes, demands, and cyclic fluctuations resulting in short and long-term security for Michigan.

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Brazil, a nation with incredible amounts of fertile land, is currently undergoing an economic boom in the agricultural industry. However, there is one problem. Two different people claim they own the land. The natives want their ancestral rights to the land, while the settlers who have been farming on them and boosting the Brazilian economy. There are 428 Indian land tracts fully registered and 178 that are in the process, but not registered yet. While the government decides what belongs to the natives and what doesn’t, there has been plenty of tension on the ground. At risk is the $124 billion industry (2011), one-fifth of the entire Brazilian economy.

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Agriculture has been an essential industry for nearly all major economies in the world. These countries use agriculture to drive international trade and create jobs. In the United States, agriculture is one of the most export dependent sectors of the economy with one-third of US agricultural production exported annually. Developing countries have realized the importance of creating economic growth through agricultural production and exports. With an increasing global population, agriculture has provided emerging economies opportunities for growth and integration into the global economic picture.

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Foreign and domestic investment are spiking for Canadian Corn because of global warming and a drought in the Corn Belt region of the United States.  Climate change and the resulting increase in temperatures in the last 50 years have extended the growing season in Canada’s Prairie Provinces approximately two weeks.  The Prairie Provinces: Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba have long been big producers of wheat, but are now beginning to incorporate and in some cases completely switch to corn.  This is due to a decrease in corn supply in the drought-ridden Midwest region of the United States, high demand for the crop, and the fact that corn has a higher yield than wheat on a per acre basis.

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Scientific advancements regarding genetic modifications have enhanced agricultural economies all throughout the globe.  Most recently, researchers have implemented a gene in soy that resists drought. Formerly used in sunflowers, the gene has been transferred and is being applied to soy in Brazil. Agriculture plays a prominent role in Brazil’s economy, accounting for 36% of exports; $7.9 billion alone was in agricultural exports to China. This reconstructed soy will not only allow for drought resistance, but also the ability to grow in salty soil, thus allowing soy development in previously uncultivated areas in Latin America. Of course, this expansion may lead to issues, both environmentally and economically.

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In September 2011, India lifted a four-year ban that was responsible for limiting the exportation of wheat and rice.  Because of this ruling, India exported over 10 million tons of grain and soymeal in the first half of 2012, a figure that is nearly double what it was in the first half of 2011. The current drought in Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan has significantly limited wheat production in these countries, yet world wheat prices have remained relatively stable due to India’s timely increase in the exportation of this commodity.

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Water is a precious thing. But why? After all 75% of Earth is water. However, of this percent, only 3% is drinkable. And of this, 70% is found in the polar caps as ice. This means that of all the water on Earth, less than 1% of it is available for us to drink. That’s why we are constantly being reminded to save water. Global warming, increase in population and industrialization have all taken a toll on Earth’s water supply. But saving water is not the only thing we must do to protect it. We need to make sure that we don’t pollute it, nor let others pollute it. Aamir Khan, in his show Satyamev Jayate (with English subtitles), shares insight to the devastating water problem in India.

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Here at Michigan State University, agricultural business has played a very important role in the history and development of the university. In 1855, Michigan’s governor signed a bill establishing the nation’s first agriculture college, the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan. The nation’s pioneer land-grant university later became known as Michigan State University. Created by the International Business Center at Michigan State University, globalEDGE has noted the importance of agriculture in our university’s foundation and the significant role agriculture plays in the international business world. For these reasons, globalEDGE provides many resources pertaining to agribusiness which can help you recognize the major international business trends in the agriculture industry.

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With increased awareness of environmental change in today’s business world, more and more companies are looking for innovative resources to reduce their “footprint” in any way possible. Some have started cutting down on packaging; others have redesigned their containers with recycled material. Certain companies are one step ahead of these methods and have turned to agricultural products to eliminate packaging wastes. 

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With the world population recently reaching 7 billion, many wonder how the agriculture industry will keep up to feed this multitude of people. It seems that much of the success will come from developing countries. Many of these countries are a large part of the growing population and also have natural resources that produce a large amount of the world’s agricultural products. Still, an enormous amount of effort is needed to increase agricultural production in developing countries.

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Community Supported Agriculture programs, commonly known as C.S.A.’s, were born in Japan and Switzerland in the 1960s and 1970s.  Since then, C.S.A.’s have expanded globally and are now becoming increasingly popular worldwide.  These programs enable consumers to buy fruits, vegetables, meats, and other goods in advance that are grown by local farmers.  Most commonly, consumers receive baskets weekly containing the goods specified in their subscriptions.  The growth of these programs is due largely in part to the numerous advantages that both consumers and farmers are experiencing.

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During routine trips to the supermarket, shoppers frequently face choices between organic and conventional food products.  While these items may look nearly identical at first glance, they likely arrived on store shelves via radically different supply chains.  Global regions have had varying reactions to the organic food movement.  The future of agribusiness may well be determined by consumer preferences between organic and conventional foods.

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It is hard to imagine life without food – in fact, it is impossible. And although many people don't recognize it, there is big business behind getting food from the farm to your kitchen table. The agribusiness sector is a broad industry covering the entire business of food production ranging from planting to the distribution and selling of the end product. New technologies and global trends are changing the way these businesses operate. The Agribusiness Blog Series will cover many of these topics including organic farming, new sales methods, and the new uses of agriculture products.

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While cloud computing provides benefits to many technical areas of business, cloud storage technology is also being used for forecasting methods in the agriculture industry. In a time when water sources are being depleted faster than they can be renewed, farmers need to find processes designed to conserve valuable water supplies. Cloud computing technology has allowed them to do just this.

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Today, many people buy produce at a local grocery store but newly designed agriculture programs are looking to change this typical consumer trend. Members of community-supported agriculture programs, known as C.S.A’s, have their fruits and vegetables delivered directly to their homes or neighborhoods. This direct grower-to-consumer relationship has had success on a local scale and now the program will test itself by entering the global marketplace.

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Recently, we've discussed a lot about oil prices and the factors that drive those prices up.   Increased commodity prices are not just isolated to oil or to the Middle East region.  According to a recent article in the Washington Post, Japan is getting ready for jumps in food prices as well.

Thanks to significant global price increases in wheat and corn, Japan is likely to take a significant hit.  The issue is further complicated by high tariffs imposed by Japan on agricultural imports.  The dynamics of global commodities have taken on new facets with the increased interdependence of regional economies.

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While much of India has modernized, the agriculture sector has yet to do the same. This has made it very difficult for farmers with smaller amounts of land to stay afloat when inopportune conditions arise. Recently India experienced a prolonged monsoon season that has ruined the crops of several local farmers. Many local farmers do not have the modern drainage systems required to carry the excessive rain away. Many crop prices have soared, onions prices have grown 600%, but the farmers affected by the weather have not been able to reap the rewards of this recent boom.

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The international flower market seems to be growing faster than the plants themselves. Over $100 billion worth of flowers are traded internationally each year. It is easy to assume that most flowers are grown locally, but you would be surprised to know that most likely that the bouquet sitting on your table is not from your own country. In the United States, imports account for 68% of fresh cut flowers. These flowers mainly come from Colombia, Ecuador, The Netherlands, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Canada.

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Do you look at your groceries receipt when you walk out the store and notice that it is higher than what it was a couple of months ago? That is because food prices in August reached a two-year high according to a food price index developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

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How many times were you told as a child that chocolate was not good for you? Hundreds?

Well now you can call your mom up and in a sweet, loving way let her know she may have been wrong. Not only is cocoa helping roughly 50 million people make a living, but new discoveries that cocoa may have cardiovascular health benefits is helping increase the demand for this little black bean.

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As wheat prices rise due to insufficient global supply, the big question is how concerned should we be about the high prices? Wheat is the latest agricultural commodity to raise costs. Wheat prices have risen 50% since last June, and prices are the highest since 1973. This is due to droughts and fires destroying crops in Russia, who is the third-largest wheat exporter in the world.

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Trade between Zambia and Malawi should soon be increasing due to a Simplified Trade Regime (STR). Its goal is to help to eliminate some customs, duties, and other taxes that exporters would normally have to deal with when crossing the border between the two countries. Until now, trade between these two countries has not really been encouraged, even though they both have resources the other desires.

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Seasonal rains and high global temperatures have caused many problems for the agricultural industry this year. Many countries rely on agricultural investments for income to meet global food production demands, making this a hard year for many regions. Food insecurity is an increasing problem throughout the world. Food production has been greatly affected by climate change as both heavy rains and dry fields have taken their toll on agriculture.

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“Feeding the world” has gotten more difficult as world population has risen, but the countries contributing the most to this population growth are also doing their part in making food for it as well. A recent joint study put forth by the United Nations-OECD says that agricultural output in the BRIC countries over the next decade will grow three times as fast as in the major developed countries. The report says a lot about changing diets production, and what and where one can expect to see their food coming from.

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The Middle East is looking for new places to expand in the agriculture industry. After an Arab Organization for Agricultural Development (AOAD) meeting, they are searching for the best places to invest in foreign farmland. In recent years, buying foreign farmland has been especially appealing to Middle Eastern energy companies who have a lot of capital but not a lot of land.

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Poultry farmers all over the globe are running into serious problems with the waste from chickens, which is real trouble when it gets into the water supply. Years back John Logan, a farmer from Prentiss, Mississippi, noticed the same problem. In an interview with NPR radio he recalled, "I said, 'I got to do something.' I can't be putting this on the ground. Now, I have a river right here. What's to happen when that phosphorus overload washes into the river, which then ends up in the Gulf of Mexico?"

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Ethiopia is one of the poorest nations in the world. However, they have seen GDP growth in each of the past 7 years. One of their major businesses is livestock, but recently they have been suffering due to animal smuggling. Livestock is an essential part of Ethiopia’s economy. They exported about $53 million worth of animals last year, but unfortunately, criminal activity is cutting into the small country’s profits.

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Many people across the globe wake up every morning and require coffee within minutes to function during the day. The caffeine gives a kick-start to the long day at the office, in class, or wherever you may be. However, imagine waking up to a tea that can give you more than half the caffeinated zap of coffee plus tons of antioxidants and fewer jitters. I’m not asking you to totally end things with your old love, but simply, see other… beverages?

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Poultry has been traded globally for years. Each individual country can not possibly produce everything it needs, making this trade a necessity. Of course, that does not mean that there hasn't been any problems. There are several past examples of poultry trade gone wrong, but as a result standards are higher, making trading less of a risk.

In 2004, China and the United States had a major rift in their chicken trades and there has been tension ever since. The initial problems were a result of the bird flu outbreaks. Following that, both countries temporarily banned the trade of poultry from one another. Soon after, China lifted their ban, but it was another two years before the U.S. followed suit. Around the same time, Thailand chicken exports were suffering because several countries refused to buy their chicken because of past outbreaks, even after the products have been inspected and deemed safe. It seems that there will always be tension over poultry trade.

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With raw sugar prices soaring to a high of 24 cents per pound and the possibility of rising to 30 cents per pound, Brazil, the largest sugar-cane growing area in the world, has a few options. Brazilian factories can either continue producing ethanol, which is used for more than 90% of new cars in Brazil, or they can produce sugar, which can be sold 40% above cost.

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When the global financial crisis hit, many nations saw a drastic decrease in their national wealth. While Tunisia suffered a slight decline in GDP by the end of 2008, its losses were not even close percentage-wise to those of other developed nations. The key to Tunisia’s economic resilience may be due to the fact that it is still undergoing a period of rapid economic growth and development. It may also be due to the fact that Tunisia’s economic backbone is based primarily on a labor-intensive workforce, and boasts a diversified economy with minimal exposure to the finance industry. Whatever the reason, Tunisia provides a strong example of what steps should be taken in order to get a country on the track to economic growth.

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Reports are beginning to show up all over the internet of another facet of the financial crisis: the damage done to the agriculture industry. If you check out the agriculture page in the Industries section of globalEDGE, you’ll get an idea of how large the consequences are for relevant businesses. The US alone produces almost $68 billion dollars in agricultural exports yearly. The Netherlands follow with roughly $38 billion, preceded by Argentina, France, and Brazil. It’s no surprise that as consumers try and spend less, the greater agricultural industry would be bearing the brunt of the losses.

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I had almost given up on news that isn’t somehow related to “credit crunch” or “bailout,” until I stumbled upon a thought provoking topic in a recent issue of The Economist: "The world has a water shortage, not a food shortage."

My immediate reaction was: "WHAT?" But the numbers seem to make sense – while people only drink about 2 liters of water a day, almost 3,000 liters of water goes into the food people eat every day (add a few more liters for the meat that takes far more water to produce). The article focuses particularly on the inefficient use of water by farmers based on today’s methods of agriculture. In fact, the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) predicts that as population grows and incomes rise, 2,000 cubic kilometers of additional water will be needed each year to keep everyone fed!