Friday, June 05, 2009


Hunger in Indonesia during World War II (forum.axishistory.)

In 1800, the population of Java was around five million.

Now it is over 100 million.

Wardi lives in a very crowded part of Java.

He has a small field and a small shop.

Using compost instead of artificial fertilizer increases organic matter in the soil and holds moisture.

Wardi does have a little education and does have a reasonable income.

He has only two children and plans no more.

His mother had eight children. She never went to school and had a very low income.

Wardi uses animal manure on his field. Fertiliser made from fossil fuels has become rather expensive.


Wardi's neighbour Aziz has not been to school and he has a very small income.

Aziz has six children.

There is some evidence that levels of education and income are important when it comes to dealing with problems of population and food supply.

Better educated, better paid people are more likely to choose to have small families, particularly in areas where food supplies are limited.

Some people get more than their fair share of the world's resources.

Not so far from where Wardi and Aziz live, a large quantity of farm land has been taken over for the building of a golf course, a shopping mall and luxury houses.

In the USA, people tend to consume more than their fair share of the world's food.

Very large quantities of grain are used to produce expensive US beef and used to produce biofuels for cars.

Increasing demand for cattle feed and bio­fuels has caused deforestation in the tropics.

Reportedly, there is a problem with climate change.

Himalayan glaciers that provide water for hundreds of millions of people in China and India could vanish by 2035.

In southern Africa, the corn harvest could drop by 30 percent, due to lack of water.

Ultimately, it's all about people having the right ideas.

We need to persuade people that they do not need to produce lots of children, especially if they live in an area where there is a food and population crisis.

Chief famine areas in red and orange.

The world does have a food and population crisis, according to National Geographic (nationalgeographic/) (Feature Article)

Among the points made by National Geographic:

1. Between 2005 and the summer of 2008, the price of rice rose fivefold.

2. According to Joachim von Braun, director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington, "Agricultural productivity growth is only one to two percent a year. This is too low to meet population growth and increased demand."

3. Hotter growing seasons and increasing water scarcity are likely to reduce future harvests in much of the world.

4. Many scientists believe we need another green revolution.

Preferably a green revolution that does not damage soils and water supplies.

5. Thomas Malthus believed that human population increases at a geometric rate, doubling about every 25 years if unchecked, while agricultural production increases arithmetically—much more slowly.

6. In 1943 around four million people died in the Bengal Famine.

Then came the green revolution.

7. The green revolution involved industrial farming:

large fields growing just one crop, high-yielding varieties of grain, plenty of irrigation and plenty of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.

8. The green revolution has led to problems:

Over-irrigation has led to steep drops in the water table.

Thousands of hectares of productive land have been lost to salinization and waterlogged soils.

The artificial pesticides and fertilizers appear to have poisoned drinking water and led to high rates of cancer.

Researchers have found pesticides in Punjabi farmers' blood, their water table, their vegetables, even their wives' breast milk.

The high cost of fertilizers and pesticides has got many farmers into debt.

One study found more than 1,400 cases of farmer suicides in 93 villages between 1988 and 2006.

9. Monsanto believes biotech will make it possible to double yields of Monsanto's core crops of corn, cotton, and soybeans by 2030.

However, so far, genetic breakthroughs that would free green revolution crops from their heavy dependence on irrigation and fertilizer have proved elusive.

10. Africa has not seen much of the green revolution, partly due to lack of infrastructure, corruption, and inaccessible markets.

Agricultural production per capita declined in sub-Saharan Africa between 1970 and 2000.

11. In Malawi they grow corn and most people live on less than two dollars a day.

In 2005 the rains failed.

Malawi decided to try the green revolution.

Since 2006 the Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have raised nearly half a billion dollars to fund the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa.

There has been investment in 80 small villages clustered into about a dozen "Millennium Villages" throughout Africa.

Irrigation in Malawi

12. In 2008, a study called the "International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development" concluded that the production increases brought about by science and technology in the past 30 years have failed to improve food access for many of the world's poor.

The six-year study, initiated by the World Bank and the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, called for a shift in agriculture toward more sustainable and ecologically friendly practices that would benefit the world's 900 million small farmers, not just agribusiness.

13. University of California, Berkeley, professor Michael Pollan says:

"The only way you can have one farmer feed 140 Americans is with monocultures.

"And monocultures need lots of fossil-fuel-based fertilizers and lots of fossil-fuel-based pesticides.

"That only works in an era of cheap fossil fuels, and that era is coming to an end. Moving anyone to a dependence on fossil fuels seems the height of irresponsibility."

14. A shift has begun to small, underfunded, sustainable projects in Africa and Asia.


15. Vandana Shiva, an agroecologist, argues that small-scale, biologically diverse farms can produce more food with fewer petroleum-based fertilisers and pesticides.

Her research shows that using compost instead of artificial fertilizer increases organic matter in the soil and holds moisture.

16. In northern Malawi, in the village of Ekwendeni, they produce good food much more cheaply than the Millennium Villages.

The Soils, Food and Healthy Communities (SFHC) project gives out seeds and advice for growing nutritious crops like peanuts, pigeon peas, and soybeans, which enrich the soil by fixing nitrogen.

Canadian researchers found that the children involved in the project showed significant weight increases.

Malawi by Joachim Huber

17. The project's research coordinator, Rachel Bezner Kerr, opposes the big-money foundations that are pushing for a new green revolution in Africa.

She says:

"I find it deeply disturbing.

"It's getting farmers to rely on expensive inputs produced from afar that are making money for big companies rather than on agroecological methods for using local resources and skills. I don't think that's the solution."


1 comment:

subrosa said...

Of course the problem with Monsanto is that their products don't yield seed so the poor are made even poorer because they have to buy annually instead of harvesting.

Far more research needs to be done in this area to have plants which reproduce.

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