Unformatted text preview: er vitamin content, despite past
technical and cultural failures that indicate a diverse diet goes
much further than genetically engineered supplements in supporting good nutrition. Ecological farming systems based on farmers’
knowledge not only raise yields but reduce costs,
using less water and fewer chemicals.
ture. The technologies that the Gates Foundation funds, like
hybrid seed and synthetic fertilizer, require much less knowhow than some of the diverse traditional systems managed by
women. In many African cultures, women grow the majority
of food, but men control access to cash. Rather than supporting and building on women’s agricultural knowledge systems,
cash-based agricultural technology allows men with the economic wherewithal to displace women as farmers.
African farmers’ organizations have repeatedly rejected this
high-tech approach to agriculture and instead are making their
own choices. Since AGRA announced its plans in 2006, groups
representing the largest farmer federations in Africa have come
together in a series of meetings to organize support for African
agroecological solutions to the food crisis.
Despite institutional neglect, ecological farming systems
have been sprouting up across the African continent for decades—systems based on farmers’ knowledge, which not only
raise yields but reduce costs, are diverse and use less water and
fewer chemicals. Fifteen years ago, researchers and farmers
in Kenya began developing a method for beating striga, a
parasitic weed that causes significant crop loss for African
farmers. The system they developed, the “push-pull system,”
also builds soil fertility, provides animal fodder and resists
another major African pest, the stemborer. Under the system,
predators are “pushed” away from corn because it is planted
alongside insect-repellent crops, while they are “pulled” toward crops like Napier grass, which exudes a gum that traps
and kills pests and is also an important fodder crop for livestock. Push-pull has spread to more than 10,000 households September 21, 2009 September 21, 2009 The Nation. Africa’s New Poster Child: The Malawi ‘Miracle’ O ne place where the new Green Revolution has gotten a
head start is the small East African nation of Malawi.
After a severe drought in 2003, more than a third of the
country needed food aid to survive. Bucking advice
from the World Bank, the country began giving out
vouchers on a large scale for subsidized fertilizer in 2005. The
rains returned, yields rose, Malawi began exporting grain and
the international community declared the hunger crisis over.
The Gates Foundation has been aggressively supporting the
funding of fertilizer in Africa through grants to establish a network of private agro-input dealers. While the program doesn’t
explicitly subsidize the price of fertilizers to farmers, it encourages national policies to increase fertilizer availability. If the
problem for African farmers is soil fertility, funding fert...
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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.
- Spring '08