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Please review my Argument Essay


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An international development organization, in response to a vitamin A deficiency among people in the impoverished nation of Tagus, has engineered a new breed of millet high in vitamin A. While seeds for this new type of millet cost more, farmers will be paid subsidies for farming the new variety of millet. Since millet is already a staple food in Tagus, people will readily adopt the new variety. To combat vitamin A deficiency, the government of Tagus should do everything it can to promote this new type of millet. 

 Write a response in which you discuss what questions would need to be answered to decide whether the recommendation is likely to have the predicted result. Be sure to explain how the answers to these questions would help to evaluate the recommendation.

The author believes that to solve the vitamin A deficiency amongst the people of Tagus, it should subsidise and promote a new breed of millet high in Vitamin A but more expensive. This seems like a potential solution but we need to answer some of the following questions before deciding whether this recommendation will have the predicted result or not.


Does the new breed of millet have a similar or greater yield in real Tagus farming conditions than that of regular millet? If the yield is insufficient, or if Tagus farmers are forced to buy additional fertilizers and other material to boost yield, then they might not be able to breakeven even after the expensive crop is subsidised. As evidenced by the Green revolution, genetically engineered breeds often require heavy usage of artificial fertilizers to achieve profitability at scale, which can lead to short term gains but worse long term consequences such as lack in soil fertility and contamination of the groundwater. We should conduct trials, giving out the crop to real farmers, and then study the yield, profitability, and effects on the environment, before deploying this program at scale. The potenial unforeseen expenses or environmental damages outlined above would mean growing the new breed of millet is unsustainable despite subsidies.


Secondly, do we know that Tagus people will readily adopt the new variety, even if millet is a staple? It's possible that the new breed, despite having high levels of vitamin A, is lacking in other important nutrients that regular millet is contributing to the staple Tagus diet. If the new millet doesn't taste as good as the old one, or can not be used as an easy replacement in cooking, then there could be a lot of hurdles in encouraging consumption of it. We should conduct surveys to understand what regular consumers, businesses creating millet products and other stakeholders think of the new millet as a replacement. In addition to the specific role millets play in providing vitamin A there are a lot of cultural and societal roles a staple food can play, and if the people do not accept it as a new staple then the susbsidy will not have the desired effect.


Additionally do we know that the subsidy is appropriately priced to help farmers switch over to the new breed while not disrupting the market? As outlined above there may be hidden costs that make a subsidy insufficient to convince a farmer to switch to the new breed. However even if the subsidy is too large, that could cause too drastic a shift in the distribution of crops grown in Tagus. If a lot of farmers usually growing rice, vegetables, or other staples in the Tagus diet, destroy their crops to plant millets because a high subsidy makes it economically feasible, that would cause complete chaos in the agricultural markets, and the food supply for the nation. Farmers may not expect the ensuing crash in millet prices with the glut in supply, rendering them unable to make back their money, and the nation forced to import other necessary foodstuffs. Rigorous stress tested models of the overall agrarian economy, considering different subsidies and how they would likely play out, would be a good step in assuring us of the feasibilty of the suggested subsidy.


These questions call into doubt the assumptions made by the author, as a negative answer to any of them would likely be a death knell for the efficacy of this subsidy. Only once we have answered these questions thoroughly can we have a more clear idea of whether a subsidy for this new breed of millet will help combat vitamin A deficiency in the Tagus people.

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