I can double the food output of Africa in the next 10 years … without Monsanto

Posted on Dec 22, 2012 | 1 comment

That’s a bold statement to make. But it is entirely doable. We don’t need Monsanto. We don’t need gobs of fertilizer brought in. We don’t need heaps of fossil fuels to run machines or manufacture nitrogen fertilizer. We don’t need huge investment in irrigation projects.

We need three things:

  • Peasant farmers educated with a combination of indigenous knowledge of food crops plus a sprinkling of additional organic and sustainable farming knowledge.
  • Co-operation among villagers to run their livestock herds together in one unit and rotate them across sufficient land to build rather than destroy.
  •  Stable land rights.
  • (We might need a fourth – improved crop storage facilities)

We should be able to accomplish that, shouldn’t we? By education, I don’t mean guilty white folk arriving from the civilized world to ‘learn these uneducated folk’. I mean coming alongside the indigenous populations, understanding and gathering their knowledge adding in the 4 ecosystems principles from Holistic Management and guiding them through a transformation of their arable land. We don’t need another Green Revolution, it has completely run out of steam and yields are sliding. We don’t need cash sucking technology and seeds making communities dependent on exporting enough goods to generate enough cash to continually import seeds and fertilizer. I’m talking about re-establishing proper nutrient cycling and water cycling while maximizing the solar energy captured and simultaneously building soil. This isn’t some pie in the sky theory of a weed smoking organic farmer. The African Centre for Holistic Management is doing it. On thousands of acres. They are so successful along the Dinbangombe River that it is starting to return to a year-round stream rather than intermittent flow.

This is a solution that enhances biodiversity, food production, self-reliance and future productivity. It captures carbon, makes communities more resilient in the face of climate change and doesn’t require endless assistance from “developed” nations.

Google “Allan Savory” and begin to understand that a well fed future without fossil fuel consumption and environmental degradation is possible. And next time someone says we need modern industrial agriculture to feed the planet. Call it what it is – empty rhetoric (down on the farm we prefer the more precise technical term: “bullshit”)


Have a Merry Christmas and fill your heart with hope. We can wrest this planet from the forces of destruction.


One Comment

  1. I visited a Heifer Project farm when I was in Tanzania a few years ago. The cows that I saw were the third or fourth generation from the original cow that the farmer received from Heifer International, and they were beautifully cared for. I am not a farmer myself – in fact I’m a vegetarian – but I was convinced. Clearly the animal husbandry and organic farming techniques are effective, and this family was able to substantially raise their standard of living, send their children to school, and become leaders in their community. If more of us in the West changed our focus to people over profits, a lot more might be done for the people of Africa, as well as for the poor among us. (We’re giving Heifer Project gifts again this year.)

    Wishing you a very merry Christmas! Love your last line – we can do this.

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