Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Famine in Horn of Africa - New Green Revolution may not be way forward

“Just as death from exposure is not an inherent result of a cold winter, famine is not a natural consequence of drought. Simply put, the structure of human society often determines who is affected and to what degree.” 
More than 10 million people have been hit by severe drought in the Horn of Africa. Parts of southern Somalia are hit by the worst famine in the area for 20 years, according to the United Nations. I stumbled an older article regarding the famine and it discussed how the “New Green Revolution” may not be the most effective for certain regions of the world. I first heard of the Green Revolution in my advanced genetic course where we began to access genetically modified crops. Interestingly we had a debate on the ethics (and advantages and disadvantages) of genetically modified crops. However, that same semester, an Dr. Akinqumi Adesina received a doctor of humane letter during our F&M commencement. Dr. Adesine is a scholar of African agriculture, economics and development, and a  champion of the Agricultural Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), which boosts food security for the continent. We are constantly given information about how life changing the green revolution in Africa could be – and how it is the right way forward.

Though it is critical for the world to act immediately to address the humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa (right now..), to ensure food delivery and distribution, we should also attempt to understand the underlying causes of the crisis in order to provide effective long-term solutions.

Some argue that the problem is that the USAID plan for agricultural development in the majority of Africa has stressed a “New Green Revolution” involving improved seeds, fertilizers and pesticides. This green revolution, though scientifically proven to be effective and be more advantages to local growers that are attempting to be most efficient, may not be the best solution. First of all – these green revolutions are financially out of reach of the world’s poor (i.e. the populations that they are trying to help) and have been unsuccessful in times of severe stress. In changing to a Green Revolution, we are removing any chances of species being able to adapt and survive in harsh conditions.

In attempting to solve general hunger problems in the horn of Africa – are we handicapping the countries “food resources” in their ability to naturally overcome harsh weather conditions? Adaptation for all organisms is critical to overall abilities, function, and survival. If we really go forward with the green revolution – we maybe taking natural abilities away from all food sources in the countries, ultimately creating a larger long term problem.  

poorest of poor farmers, who are the most likely to face food shortfalls. A more realistic approach would play down imported seeds and commercial agriculture in favor of enhanced traditional approaches to producing food for families and local markets.

1 comment:

arabianknight said...

A very touching post. Most of really don't like to think about famine, as we feel we don't have much control over some one else's food situation. The pictures are really telling as well. You can really see the devastation when you look up famine pictures on google. It's a sad world out there. Thank you for sharing.