Ending Africa’s Hunger

Correctly one manhad this kind of power when obama

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Unformatted text preview: er. When Obama made his remarks on the Green Revolution, one Seattle Times journalist suggested that “President Obama and other world leaders seem to be taking their cue from the Gates Foundation.” September 21, 2009 It’s not hard to see the paths through which the thinking in Seattle might have made it to Washington, DC. Many AGRA and Gates Foundation employees are former industry and government insiders. Rajiv Shah, a doctor with no previous agricultural experience who was headhunted by the Gates Foundation, is now at the Department of Agriculture, as under secretary for research, education and economics, and also chief scientist. The foundation’s reach extends far beyond Washington. With billions committed to agricultural development, the Gates Foundation has a financial heft equal to that of a government in the global North. In 2007 the United States contributed $60 million to the system of international public agricultural research centers. Gates has pumped $122 million into the system in the past eighteen months alone and given a total of $317 million to the World Bank. Africa’s Green Revolution has another similarity with the first Green Revolution: the technological preferences of the philanthropist shape the approaches on the ground. For the Rockefellers, that meant agricultural technology based on industrial chemistry and oil. For Gates, it’s about proprietary intellectual property. Africa’s Green Revolution is, in other words, just a new way of doing business as usual. I n its push for technological solutions, its distaste for redistributive social policy and disregard for extant alternatives— as well as in the circumstances that have made food an international security concern—this Green Revolution looks very similar to its predecessor. The biggest issue, however, isn’t one of commission but of omission. Just as in India, where peasant demands for land reform in the 1960s that might have led to more sustainable and durable progress (as such reforms did in China, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea) were ignored, African farmers advocating their own solutions to the food crisis are being marginalized. In particular, the vocally articulated demands—for agroecological alternatives, state support for farmerled research, for land reform, for women’s rights in agriculture, and for sharing access to water—all fade into the background when Gates’s answers are amplified. It will take a suite of policies, addressing both the technical and sociopolitical reasons for hunger in Africa, to make lasting change. Technologies for development need to be accompanied by other, political reforms, including canceling debt, removing food and agriculture from the World Trade Organization, investing heavily in farmers’ organizations and their proven sustainable agricultural technologies, and supporting the peerreviewed approaches generated by the science of agroecology. Models for this kind of change already exist. In Mali, peasant movements have successfully persuaded the government to adopt as a national priority the idea of “food sovereignty,” a shorthand for the democratization of the food system. Similar efforts are happening at regional and local levels in other countries. But for those initiatives to register in the United States, the conventional wisdom regarding the Green Revolution needs to be replaced. The tragedy here is not that Africa hasn’t had a Green Revolution but that the mistakes of the first may be repeated once more, and that one foundation has the power to make the rest of the world bend to its misguided agenda....
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This note was uploaded on 11/26/2012 for the course MATH 2313 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '08 term at Texas El Paso.

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