Thursday, November 22, 2007

I had a farm in Africaa

"Bill & Melinda Gates and the Rockefeller Foundation announced a joint $150 million Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) on the grounds that the Green Revolution had bypassed Africa. But as the Food First Institute points out, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, which brings together the key Green Revolution research institutions, has invested 40 to 45 percent of their £350 million annual budget in Africa; which shows that the Green Revolution must have failed Africa, not bypassed it. The Green Revolution failed Africa for the same reasons it failed Asia and Latin America: it did not address the causes of poverty and hunger. On the contrary it contributed to increasing hunger and poverty in the midst of plenty.

Rural Africa has been devastated by 25 years of ‘free trade’ policies imposed by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organisation, the US and EU. The forced privatization of food crop marketing boards - which once guaranteed African farmers minimum prices and held food reserves for emergencies - and rural development banks - which gave farmers credit to produce food - left farmers without financing to grow food and without buyers for their produce. Free trade agreements have made it easier for private traders to import subsidized food from the US and EU than to negotiate with thousands of local farmers. This effective dumping drives local farm prices below the costs of production and puts local farmers out of business.

Introducing GM monoculture crops will further narrow the genetic base of indigenous agriculture, increase farmers’ indebtedness in paying for patented seeds, and bring extra environmental and health risks (see GM Science Exposed., ISIS CD book).

Given appropriate land reform and institutional support in finance and marketing, there is no doubt that farmers in Africa, India and elsewhere can free themselves from the cycle of indebtedness, increasing poverty, hunger, malnutrition and ill-health, especially with zero-input organic farming methods based on indigenous crops and livestocks (see How to Beat Climate Change & Be Food and Energy Rich - Dream Farm 2 also Organic Now series, SiS 36). The really green revolution has started in Ethiopia a few years ago, when the government adopted organic agriculture as a national strategy for food security. Crops yields have doubled and tripled while reversing the damages of the failed Green Revolution (see Greening Ethiopia for Self-sufficiency series, SiS 23)" (thanks Rania)

A refresher on the green revolution, as always, very useful.

1 comment:

Dragon Horse said...

It might be that the green revolution is coming back, if Malawi's situation can be replicated.