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Sunday, 25 April 2010

Achieving a green revolution in Africa


Local solutions, not "blueprints" of ideas from outsiders, are needed if Africa is going to experience a green revolution, according to former DfID Chief Scientific Adviser Professor Sir Gordon Conway (Professor of International Development at UK Imperial College). In embedded interview with the FarmingFirst coalition, Sir Gordon suggests replicating in Africa the agricultural successes achieved in Asia after the food crisis in the 1960s would require a completely different approach. They would "not happen simply because outsiders come in with some kind of blueprint for a farm".

10 comments:

  1. Check out the brown Revolution at http://www.savoryinstitute.com/brown-revolution-projects/
    Working with nature works better than trying to work against it. And a large part of Zambia produces livestock better than crops. If all the grass in Zambia was annually turned into protein instead of smoke we'd all be better off.

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  2. Egypt's graduates and farming:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8933005.stm

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  3. The system approach of Embrapa:

    http://www.economist.com/node/16886442

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  4. Brazil's agricultural miracle:

    http://www.economist.com/node/16889019

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  5. Brazilian scientists turning nation into an agro-power:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/16/AR2010101604144.html

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  6. To me, organic is the way to go and agriculture and science have nothing to do with each other.

    GM maize 'has polluted rivers across the United States'
    By Steve Connor, Science Editor
    Tuesday, 28 September 2010

    An insecticide used in genetically modified (GM) crops grown extensively in the United States and other parts of the world has leached into the water of the surrounding environment.

    The insecticide is the product of a bacterial gene inserted into GM maize and other cereal crops to protect them against insects such as the European corn borer beetle. Scientists have detected the insecticide in a significant number of streams draining the great corn belt of the American mid-West.

    Read more...

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  7. MrK,
    To say agriculture and science have nothing to do with each other is, in my view, an extremist stance.
    Agriculture production, whether organic or not, has benefited immensely from scientific developments.
    Besides, organic farming requires an even deeper understanding of crop science, soil science, water resources management, engineering and related scientific field to ensure environmental protection and sustainability.
    I think science has everything to do with agriculture. But thats just me.

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  8. Only 0.8 percent of world farmland is organically farmed, hence developments increasing production on the remaining 99.2% of farmland are important. Artificial fertilizers are very useful, that is why they are included in Zambia's fertilizer support program and food security packs for small farmers, helping ensure food security.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organic_farming

    http://www.worldbank.org/afr/fertilizer_tk/documentspdf/ZambiaGovProg.pdf

    https://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dn6qkw7_64csrv75hk

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  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  10. Kafue001,

    Only 0.8 percent of world farmland is organically farmed, hence developments increasing production on the remaining 99.2% of farmland are important. Artificial fertilizers are very useful, that is why they are included in Zambia's fertilizer support program and food security packs for small farmers, helping ensure food security.

    I completely agree that the FSP has made a big difference in output. And that chemical fertilizers and pesticides have their small place, in case of emergency.

    However, chemicals are only a stopgap measure, and should only be used to increase food production in the short run. They add nothing to the soil, in fact they deplete the soil. Large combine harvesters can compact soil many yards deep to where it interferes with drainage and the water table.

    Therefore, the future is with completely sustainable, low input agriculture.

    Organic agriculture is based on the continuous recycling of nutrients from organic sources. It makes farmers independent from fuel costs, imported or store bought chemical fertilizers and pesticides/fungicides/herbicides/other *cides.

    Organic agriculture is more labour intensitve, but also yields more per hectare because of the greater efficiency of small scale agriculture. And Zambia has plenty of unemployed/underemployed people, lots of land, water resources, everything to make this work.

    The country will become completely selfsufficient in food production indefinitely, and surpluses can be used for export or manufacturing.

    What the state needs to do is to collect and transport agricultural produce in a nationwide and efficient manner, so all farmers have access to the best prices and have access to both domestic and foreign markets. There should be protection (tariffs) for imported goods that compete with Zambian grown or manufactured products.

    Please check out the following:

    The Secret is in the Soil
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iL2mnf_rfjI

    How to Brew Compost Tea
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8QHLkkrQsA

    These videos show the potential of the organic approach.

    Natural Farming, by Masanobu Fukuoka
    Farmers Of Forty Centuries, by F.H. King

    These are my favorite books on organic agriculture. They are not perfect (and aren't supposed to be), but they show the way toward an agriculture that is free from toxins, low in inputs, and perfect for low income farmers to get started on. It is especially low in inputs when the Fukuoka method of returning everything except the fruit/grain to the field it grew from, is combined with the ancient Asian method of collecting vegetable matter from unproductive higher land, compost it and add that to the soil, which would completely close the nutrient loop, and eliminate any kind of fertilization whatsoever. But that is just hypothetical right now.

    This is a form of agriculture many villagers can take up. Combine it with (government provided) access to markets for their goods, and this will inject billions of dollars into the rural areas. Which will also slow or reverse urbanisation, which will make the cities much more manageable.

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