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Rescooped by Elizabeth Bitgood from Geography Education!

How Vietnam became a coffee giant

How Vietnam became a coffee giant | Geography 200 |

"Think of coffee and you will probably think of Brazil, Colombia, or maybe Ethiopia. But the world's second largest exporter today is Vietnam. How did its market share jump from 0.1% to 20% in just 30 years, and how has this rapid change affected the country?"


Via Seth Dixon
Elizabeth Bitgood's insight:

This article pointed out that while Vietnam does not drink much coffee it has become a large exporter of the bean.  The article also talked about the ramifications of coffee farming on the economy as well as he geography of this country.  I also found it interesting that a country that no one ever trained to grow coffee has reached the heights it has with just farmers figuring out what needed to be done.

Lora Tortolani's curator insight, April 20, 2:48 PM

Even though Vietnamese people still drink tea today, they have turned to gowing and exporting coffee as one of their major sources of income.  This exportation has decreased those living under the poverty line from 60% to only 10% in the last 20 years. 

Jared Medeiros's curator insight, April 28, 5:24 PM

Vietnam definitly does not come to mind when thuinking globaly about the coffee giants of the world.  Its a good thing for their people though that the crop is booming.  60% under the poverty line down to 10% in 30 years is astonishing, and im sure the people of Vietnam are very grateful to have such a globaly desired good.  I would hate to see what the country would look like today if this resource was unavailable to them.

Kevin Nguyen's curator insight, September 9, 2:54 PM

This article was very interesting since I lived in Vietnam for 8 years and was not really aware of the huge coffee production as a child. I did noticed some differences between coffee in Vietnam and in the U.S. People from Vietnam drink really bitter coffee compared to U.S that I was very surprised when I came to America. 

Rescooped by Elizabeth Bitgood from Geography Education!

Fields of Green Spring up in Saudi Arabia

Fields of Green Spring up in Saudi Arabia | Geography 200 |
Saudi Arabia is drilling for a resource possibly more precious than oil by tapping hidden reserves of water in the Syrian Desert.

Via Seth Dixon
Elizabeth Bitgood's insight:

This article makes underscores the use of water resources in the area.  The need to make the deserts bloom is putting a strain on the ground water resources in this region.  Because of the climate, this water is not a renewable resource and will eventually dry up.  What type of chaos will that cause in 50 years when the estimated time of the resource runs its course?

Amanda Morgan's curator insight, October 23, 2014 8:33 PM

The transformation of Saudi Arabia's greenery is a smart idea and I can imagine incredibly beneficial.  We always hear about not wanting to be oil dependent on a foreign countries.  What do oil rich countries say?  Well, Saudi Arabia found a solution for not wanting to be dependent on foreign countries for their agricultural needs.

Samuel D'Amore's curator insight, December 16, 2014 1:52 AM

It's amazing to see how Saudi Arabia is able to transform an area once categorized by it's dryness and lack of vegetation is now being Terra-formed into a green area. This shows what huge amounts of money can do, physically alter the earth and landscapes. Because of the massive amounts of oil available to the Saudi's they are able to ship in a more valuable resource, water.

Kevin Cournoyer's curator insight, May 6, 6:51 PM

These satellite images provide some interesting perspective about the scarcity of water in Saudi Arabia. Due to rainfall totaling only about one inch a year, Saudi Arabia has been forced to drill for water trapped beneath the desert sand in order to sustain agriculture and life. The progression of the images shows that this water drilling has clearly done some good for Saudi Arabia in terms of green space, but scientists estimate that pumping water will only be a viable option for another 50 years or so, at which point, Saudi Arabia will be forced to explore other options for finding water. 


It is safe to say that many other countries around the world do not share the problem of finding water that Saudi Arabia does (though climate change has surely led to increased droughts in recent years).It puts into perspective, then, the universal struggle of the search for natural resources. In countries where water is in abundant supply, people are generally more concerned with securing oil or other means of energy creation. In a place like Saudi Arabia, however, which is incredibly rich in oil, people don't worry about energy, but about water. It just goes to show that we often don't appreciate what we have until it is put into perspective just how difficult it is for people who don't have what we do. Like the U.S. or China must do for oil and other energy resources, Saudi Arabia must find a viable option for securing water before it is too late. 

Rescooped by Elizabeth Bitgood from Geography Education!

After Alabama Immigration Law, Few Americans Taking Immigrants' Work

After Alabama Immigration Law, Few Americans Taking Immigrants' Work | Geography 200 |
ONEONTA, Ala. -- Potato farmer Keith Smith saw most of his immigrant workers leave after Alabama's tough immigration law took effect, so he hired Americans.


Geography is all about the interconnected of themes and places.  This issue in Alabama is displaying these interconnections quite vividly.  Economics, immigration, culture, politics and agriculture are intensely intertwined in this issue.   

Via Seth Dixon
Elizabeth Bitgood's insight:

This is another article that highlights the skill deficit in this country.  People seem to be afraid of doing hard work and would rather do nothing then work hard to learn this skill.  If it were a choice between no job and this type of job people would take the jobs but the third choice of unemployment payments makes people who might do these jobs decide not to.  As long as they are paid more to not work then work, they will not do the jobs that need workers.  The farmer made a good point that a skilled picker can make $200-$300 a day but an unskilled worker doing the job makes only $24 a day.  The work ethic of this country needs to be changed, young people today do not want to work hard or put in the effort.  When farmers can no longer get workers how long will it be before there is a food problem as well as a worker problem in this country.  It is possible to make a good living doing these types of jobs but not as long as people feel the work is beneath them or they are unwilling to do the hard manual labor required to do the job well.

Louis Mazza's curator insight, January 28, 12:26 PM

i see this as a very good law. America is on the verge of recovering from an economic recession and the United States can benefit from every job given to a natural born american citizen. i do see the problems that a  farmer can have such as receiving a decline in profits if they must pay more for the product. in the article the farmers also say that Americans just do not work like seasoned Hispanics and production is way down. another looming problem that the Americans have is that they are slow, and want to call it a day after lunch, and expect to get paid more. 

Kendra King's curator insight, February 2, 5:36 PM

As the title implies, this is about how Americans are not cut out for doing intensive farming jobs because the workers just quit quickly. A few politicians mentioned in the story, Governor Robert Bentley and Senator Scott Beason, said they received thank you messages from constituents who found work. This was supposed to be evidence of Americans benefitting from jobs that immigrants took, but I would love to know how many of those people actually stayed with the job. Furthermore, I find it a bit too suspicious that none of the people wanted to speak with the press as the author mentioned or that the names just weren’t given. I am more inclined to believe the owners of the famers mentioned in the article, who said they can’t keep Americans on their site happy due to lack of pay and benefits. Mind you now it wasn’t just one owner who said this either. I think this is telling as well because the owners are the individuals who best know the industry as they work it every day.


From the farmers perspective the new law is now a huge problem that could also affected consumers. They lost steady “Hispanics with experience,” who they knew could handle the work. For some farmers, according to the article, has made it so the produce is left on the vine rotting because it isn’t picked. So in essence, what the Arizona law just did was harm agriculture and the buyers too because if enough of that food perishes the price will go up. Now I can understand a state being aggravated over illegal immigration (it is a serious problem that is nowhere close to being solved), but to pass a law with these kinds of economic ramifications isn’t really helping the situation much either. As much as people hate to admit it, our economy needs immigrants from Mexico for our agriculture sector to work. It is just a little known fact.


The new law isn’t the only law at issue in this article. Connie Horner of Georgia tried to legally hire workers through the government’s visa program. She soon found it is too costly for her to do and too time consuming, so instead Ms. Horner is turning to machines. The fact that visas are that hard to attain for workers is also part of the reason the immigrants come illegally. Rather than spending more money to watch the boarder how about the government figure out a way for the bureaucracy of the immigration process to move quicker. This isn’t an issue of 2011 either when the article was written. Listening to the news, I have heard farmers complain about the visa program for years. No wonder immigrants come over illegally and then citizens get angry at these people. Really, American’s should be more annoyed with their government’s ineffective stance on boarder control. 

Rescooped by Elizabeth Bitgood from Geography Education!

Japan's Geographic Challenge

Stratfor examines Japan's primary geographic challenge of sustaining its large population with little arable land and few natural resources. For more analysi...

Via Seth Dixon
Elizabeth Bitgood's insight:

This short video did a great job in explaining why Japan became expansionist in the decades leading up to WW II.  The mountainous nature of the islands and lack of arable land challenges Japan to provide food for its people.  To understand Japan you must understand her geography, this helps to understand why a country acted the way it did in the past and can be a predictor of future actions. 

David Ricci's comment, April 30, 2013 9:47 AM
Japan clearly has their job cut out for them due to the geography of the country. Thier land has very limited airable land making agriculture extremely hard to maintain. The mountainous terrain also makes travel much harder for these people. Because of this their population like stated in the video has been pushed to hotspots like the yamato region. Japan has developed their culture solely based on how disconnected they are from the rest of the world. Japan is a chain of many islands so they have to import alot of their goods. This means having good trade partners, always making new trade partners, and avoiding conflict. This didnt work so well looking back at world war II. Unfortunately they must either become more self sufficient like chris said, or they have to stay on the good sides of alot of other countries.
Kevin Cournoyer's comment, May 1, 2013 12:51 AM
Unlike other larger, more geographically diverse countries, Japan is faced with the problem of a general lack of farmable land and natural resources. The fact that the country is itself an island does not make things any easier for it in an economic sense. The way the country is divided up also makes for a difficult political situation, as mountain ranges create division, and therefore, political disunity.
The proximity of the Korean peninsula and China to Japan is also important to examine. Whenever Japan wishes to acquire natural resources and other economically beneficial materials, Korea is the conduit through which Japan tends to invade the mainland, usually China. Because of this, we can see how Japan’s geographic location may cause strained relationships with its neighbors, both politically and economically. Alienating two of its closest neighbors would clearly be a disastrous move for Japan, but it may be seen as necessary due to its unfortunate geographic location.
Matthew DiLuglio's curator insight, November 27, 2013 5:31 PM

It would make sense to me that for a place like Japan to sustain itself successfully, it would have to have some help from other areas with more resources.  Again with the concept- people don't choose to be born, or where they are born... To be born in Japan is as unchosen by that person as it would be in any other country.  I don't think people should have to pay for resources that they do not have available, especially because they are on an island/island chain that simply doesn't have what they need.  I am really repulsed by the bartering system because of absolute indication of beyond excessive surplus and profit and greed and all that garbage that humanity reeks of.  Yeah some people are happy, but we could be completely unburdened of all negativity if we banded together to rid the world of negativity itself.  I know that Japan would be happy to receive everything that they need for no cost, but I also know that many people would be willing to work, and more willing to work, if they didn't have expenses to pay for... it would really be serving their life's purpose as a component of humankind if they worked to help others, rather than to pay their monthly rent.  I don't have a clue how I would go about organizing a movement to transform this idea into a reality, but I'll work on that.  In the mean time, I would advise supranationalism for Japan, and hope that with the alliance of other countries, they can band together and make deals that work for the greater good of their country, population, and the world.

Rescooped by Elizabeth Bitgood from Geography Education!

The Changing Geography of Quinoa

The Changing Geography of Quinoa | Geography 200 |
Bolivian and Peruvian farmers sell entire crop to meet rising western demand, sparking fears of malnutrition

Via Seth Dixon
Elizabeth Bitgood's insight:

I have never heard of Quinoa until I read this article.  I found myself amazed at the properties of this food especially when it is grown in such an inhospitable environment for growing other crops.  It is sad that the poor people eat less of it now but the income it generates for them is a good thing.  It allows them to increase their standards of living and entices people to return to their home villages rather than crowd into cities. With the increased income they can improve the variety of foods in their diets even if it means the decrease in consumption of the quinoa. 

Hector Alonzo's curator insight, November 1, 2014 8:48 PM

Bolivia and Peru once enjoyed Quinoa as a locally grown grain that was used in a nutritious diet. However, because  other parts of the world are becoming increasingly accustomed to Quinoa it is driving the price of the grain in both countries, which is putting the locals in a tough pot because it is practically tripling in price. The poorer citizens are struggling to get Quinoa, something that they once got relatively easy.

Samuel D'Amore's curator insight, December 14, 2014 7:12 PM

This is an example of the harmful effect of globalization, those who grew quinoa for food are now forced to ship away their food source leading to starvation and a slew of other issues. Those in the west with their obsession with "Super Foods" have without realizing it driven up the price of this grain to the extend that those who relied upon it as their staple crop can no longer afford to eat it themselves.

Joshua Mason's curator insight, March 3, 12:54 PM

I remember walking into Panera Bread one morning a few months back. In the doorway, they had a sign that read, "Now serving Quinoa Oatmeal." I thought to myself, "What the hell is a Key-noah?" Now, it seems I can't go anywhere without hearing about this grain.


Touted as the super grain, Quinoa has been used for centuries as a source of sustenance for the dwellers of the Andes. But what happens when a traditional food source, only able to grow in a small region is suddenly desired by large parts of America and Europe? Supply and demand has kicked in and if it's more profitable to eat something else and sell your crop, then I'd imagine most folks would do just that like they are in the Andes. The problem with selling your main source of nutrition is that when you aren't eating it, you're not getting the nutrients you normally got. Is stripping a people of their ancestral food source and malnutrition worth it for a bowl of oatmeal at Panera?