Thursday, April 24, 2008

Will Green Revolution Help Solve Poverty and Hunger in Sub-Saharan Africa?

No, says a policy brief (an old one, published in October 2006) from the Institute for Food and Development Policy. I somehow stumbled upon this policy brief. It looks interesting though I think that a global effort to promote (rather revive) the Green Revolution is definitely going to produce some good outcomes.

The policy brief is titled : Ten reasons why the Rockefeller and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations' Alliance for another green revolution will not solve the problems of poverty and hunger in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The authors argue that, based on the first Green Revolution experience, this initiative will not succeed because:

  1. the Green Revolution actually deepens the divide between rich and poor farmers.
  2. over time, Green Revolution technologies degrade tropical agro-ecosystems and increase environmental risk.
  3. the Green Revolution leads to the loss of agro-biodiversity.
  4. hunger is not primarily due to a lack of food, but rather because the hungry are too poor to buy the food that is available.
  5. without addressing structural inequities in the market and political systems, approaches relying on high input technologies fail.
  6. the private sector alone will not solve the problems.
  7. genetic engineering (GE) will make Sub-Saharan smallholder systems more environmentally vulnerable.
  8. GE crops into smallholder agriculture will likely lead to farmer indebtedness.
  9. the assertion that "There Is No Alternative" (TINA) ignores the many successful agro-ecological and non-corporate approaches to agricultural development.
  10. AGRA's "alliance" does not allow peasant farmers to be the principal actors in agricultural improvement.

Recommendation from the authors: Invest in the service of the struggle by peasant and farmer organisations and their allies to truly achieve food sovereignty.

The recommendation is quite blurry. At a time when there have been calls for revival of the Green Revolution in Sub-Saharan Africa due to sky-rocketing food prices, it won't hurt to look at the concerns of the authors of this policy brief.