Saturday, February 03, 2007

Ag Law News from Around the World

Former students often provide their law professors with insight into the world beyond the academy and serve as a source of pride. I experienced both this week when an alumnus of the LL.M. program that I am honored to direct, the Graduate Program in Agricultural Law, contacted me. This former student, Bhargavi Motukuri came to us from India. She excelled in our program, despite the fact that we do not offer LL.M. studies that are tailored to international students. The one or two students from other countries that attend our program each year compete head-to-head with our LL.M. candidates with J.D.s from a U.S. law school. Like Bhargavi, however, they are often exceptional students, and in all cases they remind us that agriculture is not just a U.S. industry.

Bhargavi is now back in India and provided me with an update on her activities. She is finishing up her work with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) preparing an internal document for the organization on "Gender and Trade Concerns – Agricultural Trade Liberalisation and the Consequences on Women in the Developing World". The IFAD is an international financial institution created by the United Nations with the mission of enabling the rural poor to overcome poverty.

When this document is completed, Bhargavi will join the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR). She has already helped them write a proposal to the Gates Foundation for "Strengthening bamboo production and processing by rural smallholders in India and enabling commercial market linkages for enhancing their income, employment opportunities, and quality of life." If this proposal is funded, she will be involved with the project, and in the meantime, she is working on producing policy papers on the products that can be generated from bamboo such as charcoal, pellets, furniture, and housing.

INBAR presents the following facts on their website, under the heading Why Bamboo and Rattan?
  • A sixty foot tree cut for market takes 60 years to replace.
  • A sixty foot bamboo cut for market takes 59 days to replace.
  • Over one billion people in the world live in bamboo houses.
  • The world trade in bamboo and rattan is currently estimated at 5 billion US dollars every year.
  • The majority of bamboo and rattan harvested for market is harvested by women and children, most of whom live at or below subsistence levels in developing countries.
For an indication of what a hot topic bamboo is, do a google news search - It is likely to turn up news items on bamboo flooring, housing, furniture and accessories. It is touted as an environmentally friendly product that provides an economic lift to developing countries.

Good luck with your work, Bhargavi! Keep us posted!