Goats, Kofi and the internet

How global government could make some lonely shepherds very happy.

A few years back I was tangentially involved in an EU project, the purpose of which was to provide market data to small agricultural producers. Basically, if you lived on a mountain in Greece with a few goats and made goat’s cheese, you had no idea how much was being charged for your wonderful product a few links down the supply chain. The solution was to be a network that would enable Greek shepherds – for political reasons they were to be one of the target groups for the pilot – to observe and understand markets.
I don’t know what happened to the project subsequently (although I suspect that a lot of bureaucrats got fat on it), but shortly afterwards I and a girlfriend went walking in the Greek mountains. One night we couldn’t find anywhere to sleep and had resigned ourselves to roughing it when we chanced on a shepherd getting drunk outside a small hut which contained a very old mattress. Have my bed, he said, so we did, not realising that he was going to join us in it as soon as he’d finished the bottle.
Kofi Annan (.doc) may be “resolute to empower the poor, particularly those living in remote, rural and marginalized urban areas, to access information and to use ICTs as a tool to support their efforts to lift themselves out of poverty,” but I’m pretty sure I know which sites that shepherd would have visited, given a PC and a fast connection.

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  1. “particularly those living in remote, rural and marginalized urban areas,” eh? When’s someone going to stand up for the downtrodden of Hampstead?

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