Lessons learned from Asia’s Green Revolution being ignored in Africa.
In October 2011, Christian Aid launched a report on Africa’s Green Revolution and lobbied the British Parliament to support more sustainable agricultural approaches in Africa. The report argues that:
Sustainable farming techniques are being sidelined in favour of a quick-fix solution – modern seed varieties (MVs) that produce better yields if treated with synthetic fertiliser and pesticides. Such inputs are expensive and the seeds need frequent replacement. In Asia, the use of MVs in a head-long rush for bumper harvests has been shown to accelerate soil degradation, destroy crop diversity and encourage farmers to go into debt.
As Africa seeks to banish hunger, sustainable alternatives that can boost production, incomes and food security, help conserve soil and water and build resilience to climate change remain badly under resourced.
The report states that ‘while there is no denying the achievement of Asia’s Green Revolution in lifting yields and reducing hunger, improvements began to stall in the 1990s amid problems that should give African governments ‘more than a pause for thought’.’
These include widespread soil degradation, increased vulnerability to pests, farmer debts, a decline in traditional farming knowledge, increased inequality in rural communities, loss of biodiversity and increased greenhouse gas emissions from industrial agriculture.
The agricultural methods which Foundations for Farming teach are also known as conservation agriculture or conservation farming and fall under the wider grouping term of sustainable agriculture. The Christian Aid report features case studies on sustainable agricultural projects around the world, including Zimbabwe, where the ZimPro Trust supported by Christian Aid, have been promoting conservation agriculture.
Foundations for Farming had the pleasure of training the staff from the ZimPro Trust in conservation agriculture and is pleased to see the impact it is having and hope its testimony persuades governments and donors to change their thinking.
However, on top of this Foundations for Farming believes that unlocking Africa’s smallholder productivity does not simply lie in changing their agricultural methods but in seeing real heart attitude changes towards faithfully stewarding their land and resources.
To download the full report ‘Healthy Harvests: The Benefits of Sustainable Agriculture in Africa and Asia’. Click here.
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