agriculture, asia, water trade

Thailand, Agriculture, and Water Cap and Trade

The people of Thailand are gearing up for general elections for prime minister on December 23, 2007. This is an exciting occurrence, as political activities were outlawed in Thailand after a major coup d’etat on September 19, 2006.

While preparations for the elections occur, discussions abound regarding the future of the economy in Thailand. As stated on the Bangkok Post Daily, it cannot be ignored that the agricultural sector in Thailand currently supports a large part of the economy. Thailand exports a large percentage of their agricultural products to the global market. But, the author of this article states,

There may be a time when Thailand must keep its agricultural produce within the country for food security, especially to offset drought. If at some time in the future Thailand cannot feed its own people and must depend on food imports, it will have to fork over a hard-earned foreign exchange advantage to buy ever more expensive food, and there may be little money left for development. Therefore, said Nongnuch, Thailand should never abandon its determination to maintain food security, and always produce at least enough to feed its population.

Firstly, I must exclaim, I do not see how maintaining food supplies within one’s country would offset drought. But, this issue does bring up conversation concerning globalization, food supply, and water availability.

With increasing recognition of water shortages in agricultural sectors throughout the world, it has been suggested that a re-organization of food production could be a viable option to reduce stress on water supplies. For example, growing less water-intensive crops in arid locations, while growing water-intensive crops in areas with high precipitation. This kind of global re-organization of the food market would require extensive participation by political entities throughout the world to ensure trade of needed foods sources be conducted equitably.

However, current global trade is not conducted in a fair manner because large entities often have an unfair advantage over small entities, especially with the implementation of such trade polices like NAFTA and CAFTA, etc. That leads one to think that implementation of some manner of water cap and trade system could assist in a global reorganization of the agricultural sector.

In summary, if this new system of agriculture could be maintained, it has the possibility to provide sustainable agricultural commodities while lessening our dependence on water supplies. But, the likelihood of the imminent occurrence of this type of paradigm shift is nil to none.

Globalization is happening, we might as well use it for good.

-as succinctly stated by my close friend.

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3 thoughts on “Thailand, Agriculture, and Water Cap and Trade”

  1. The implementation of a global cap and trade system for water is an interesting concept. I can see how it might work for things like air pollution because the world shares a common airshed, but even then such an approach might not be suitable for things like controls on mercury emissions, where the dispersion plume is more localized. How would a cap and trade system function globally, when most water users get their water from local sources? In other words, not all countries draw their water from the same well. Perhaps what might be more workable is a cap and trade system implemented on specific water sources, rather than the planet in its entirety.

  2. As you speak of localized cap and trade systems for water, I am not quite sure how these micro-trade systems would work.

    Even for a globalized water cap and trade system, many of the specifics have yet to be worked out. I suppose initially, water duties would have to be set for specified uses (agricultural, industrial, etc), and these water duties should be comparable to the location and availability of water. If duties were exceeded, the company, businesses, etc. would have to essentially pay for additional water used. This payment could be in the form of some type of taxation on global trade or through purchasing of credits similar to carbon credits (yes, I am cringing at the thought of this concept going array…). Additionally, there would have to be some type of international treaty signed, and incorporation of these water taxes/credits into the global trade system.

    Now, that being said, my worry about such an endeavor would be the affect on small entities who could not afford to pay for such taxes/credits to compete in the global trade system, and therefore be excluded even more so, after the implementation of such system. Also, there may be a lack of participation from many countries, making the system near to obsolete.

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