Tuesday 13 December 2011

We need a new ‘Brown Revolution’

The Worldwatch blog, ‘Nourishing the Planet’, reports that Howard Buffet has called for an African ‘brown revolution’ which focusses on improving soil conditions. The philanthropist and farmer, president of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, has called on the international community to rethink its approach to agricultural development in Africa. Although he acknowledges that a variety of solutions are needed to make Africa food secure, he argues that aid agencies must devote their attention to soil conditions across the continent.

He expects his ideas to meet resistance among those hoping to replicate in sub-Saharan Africa the phenomenon of the “Green Revolution,” which introduced improved seed varieties, pesticides, and fertilizer to farmers in Southeast Asia. While the Green Revolution is credited with dramatically boosting yields in the late 20th century, opponents claim that its high-tech solutions destroyed local environments and made farmers dependent on expensive inputs.

“A Green Revolution really won’t work for the majority of Africa farmers,” says Buffett – a keynote speaker at the recent World Food Prize symposium in Des Moines, Iowa, USA. “We need a Brown Revolution. We need to change the debate about how to help African farmers.” His foundation released a new report on food insecurity in Africa, which can be accessed here.