I just got through reading Worldwatch Institute’s new report “Nourishing the Planet.” An interesting read, but unfortunately unaccessible for most at $19.95 for a PDF or paperback. Not sure how many in the developing world could buy the report at that price, unless perhaps they have made it available free of cost to some? Not sure. I digress. It is an interesting read, but not one rich in data and substantive impact. I don’t think that was the point in publishing the report but more so to demonstrate that there are alternative, sustainable ways to improve agriculture production while ensuring ecosystems and fragile environments are protected. This is a tricky game, as there is a massive call by IFAD and others for a Green Revolution in Africa that involves improved technology, and better access to markets. I actually cannot judge what is the right or the wrong approach – as I think the issues are complicated, and many that I don’t understand. I am just a lowly nutritionist, not an economist, soil scientist, agronomist, or Africanist. Let’s just hope when decisions are made, farmers, communities, African governments and all those experts mentioned above are sitting at the table. What I do know is that Africa is at the tipping point and has an incredible opportunity to make positive changes in the way food is produced, the way food is eaten and the way income is earned.
Nourishing the Planet’s blog is actually more informative than the report itself with lots of interesting snapshots and case studies of sustainable agriculture. Carey Fowler of the Global Crop Diversity Trust wrote an interesting post on the “genebank pop”. There are some interesting blogs on urban agriculture, an agriculture that 800 million depend on, and a great highlight on a friend of mine Stacia Nordin who lives and breathes (and teaches!) biodiversity and permaculture in Malawi.
Worldwatch Institute has really been incredible at marketing this report and the information within. The blog is getting many hits, the tweets are rampant and the press write-ups are all over the place. I do wish, the report had a bit more scientific rigor to help support the claims being made, and to really give a bit more “umph” to demonstrate that sustainable agriculture and biodiversity are critically important to be part of the African green revolution.