Bulbs for microcredit business - reinventing the wheel

hornig@usadatanet.net hornig@usadatanet.net
Sun, 03 Dec 2006 19:13:43 PST
Robert's message, turned on its head a bit, illustrates the underlying
issue quite nicely, e.g., it's phenomenally hard to come up with schemes to
improve the lot of the working poor even in the US, where in theory we DO
understand how our own markets work, what the regulatory climate looks
like, and what infrastructure is in place to support new enterprises, micro
or otherwise; why do people think it's somehow more doable to help start
them half way around the world?

We had an interesting example of precisely this sort of thing in our
county, a few years back, when someone decided that local growers ought to
get into the bulb-growing business (I kid you not), and that these bulbs
would be locally promoted, under the starry-eyed assumption that locals
would naturally be happy to pay 50% more for local produce.  The growers
set about producing a few bulbs for which an obvious market was thought to
exist: a few tulips, a few daffodils, grape hyacinths.  Whose bright idea
this was, I do not know, but as anyone might imagine these bulbs turned out
to be expensive to produce (NY state has no comparative advantage in this,
as we are notoriously cloudy) and of poor quality, and the project

A somewhat longer-lived effort involved establishment of a local
cranberry-growing cooperative, about the time the Chileans were cranking up
cranberry production and flooding the market.  Demand for cranberries is
not notably price-elastic, i.e. if the price falls 50% you do not tend to
increase your quantity purchased by over 50%.  The cranberry operation

I could go on and on (I was an economics professor for 13 years, and I got
my Ph.D in agricultural economics (international trade and development) at
Cornell), but I will spare everyone that particular torture.  My points are
only that there are probably relatively few unexploited opportunities in
any market, and that entering on a small scale a market where there are
already large, efficient producers is suicidal. Add to that impressive
regulatory difficulties, phytosanitary issue, storage issue, transportation
issues, language barriers, and any number of other things, and the whole
project becomes murkier still.

I've lived in a depressed region for roughly 34 years, and I can assure you
that the only successful startups have been private efforts, and that so
far none of the many efforts to jawbone, to channel state monies, to grant
property tax relief, etc., have created economic growth nor stopped the
outflow of human capital.  Economic development only looks easy when it's
half a world away.  In your own backyard, it looks nearly impossible.


Ellen Hornig
Seneca Hill Perennials
Oswego NY USA

Original Message:
From: rdjenkins rdjenkins@bellsouth.net
Date: Sun, 3 Dec 2006 16:54:01 -0500
To: pbs@lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: Re: [pbs] Bulbs for microcredit business - reinventing the wheel

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "James Waddick" <jwaddick@kc.rr.com>
To: "Pacific Bulb Society" <pbs@lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Sunday, December 03, 2006 3:21 PM
Subject: Re: [pbs] Bulbs for microcredit business - reinventing the wheel

> Additionally there are numerous commercial wholesale 
> nurseries that export to the west. There are a variety of research 
> institutes and universities devoted to these topics. Granted these 
> may not be accessible to the poorest and most isolated people.

 Maybe that is what Joe is getting at......those people who are "out of the
loop".    Joe?

>.... but India is far from the 'start 
> up' situation you suggest.
And yet there are many people looking for their start-up in this already
started-up industry. How might Joe's efforts help them?

> Hate to burst a bubble here, but this is not really realistic 
> at this stage.

Anything more you have to offer to help make this more realistic would be
of benefit! I am dirt-poor myself here in the USA and would also benefit
more specific input over a general "not realistic" pronouncement. I don't
mean to be insulting, but if I am being "unrealistic" due to the lack of
understanding or adequete information, please, fill me in in. You seem to
have a better prespective than I have. Do you have a better long-range plan
for India or for those of us in the US who might be looking for a
productive means of earning an income?


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