Daily Archives: April 20, 2021

Myths underlie Africa’s Green Revolution

By Timothy A. Wise with Jomo Kwame Sundaram
IPS News, April 20, 2021

Since the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) was launched in 2006, yields have barely risen, while rural poverty remains endemic, and would have increased more if not for out-migration.

AGRA was started, with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, to double yields and incomes for 30 million smallholder farm households while halving food insecurity by 2020.

There are no signs of significant productivity and income boosts from promoted commercial seeds and agrochemicals in AGRA’s 13 focus countries. Meanwhile, the number of undernourished in these nations increased by 30%!

When will we ever learn?

What went wrong? The continuing Indian farmer protests, despite the COVID-19 resurgence, highlight the problematic legacy of its Green Revolution (GR) in frustrating progress to sustainable food security.

Many studies have already punctured some myths of India’s GR. Looking back, its flaws and their dire consequences should have warned policymakers of the likely disappointing results of the GR in Africa.

Hagiographic accounts of the GR cite ‘high‐yielding’ and ‘fast-growing’ dwarf wheat and rice spreading through Asia, particularly India, saving lives, modernising agriculture, and ‘freeing’ labour for better off-farm employment.

Many recent historical studies challenge key claims of this supposed success, including allegedly widespread yield improvements and even the number of lives actually saved by increased food production.

Environmental degradation and other public health threats due to the toxic chemicals used are now widely recognized. Meanwhile, water management has become increasingly challenging and unreliable due to global warming and other factors.

Ersatz GR2.0 for Africa

Half a century later, the technology fetishizing, even deifying AGRA initiative seemed oblivious of Asian lessons as if there is nothing to learn from actual experiences, research and analyses.

Worse, AGRA has ignored many crucial features of India’s GR. Importantly, the post-colonial Indian government had quickly developed capacities to promote economic development.

Few African countries have such ‘developmental’ capacities, let alone comparable capabilities. Their already modest government capacities were decimated from the 1980s by structural adjustment programmes demanded by international financial institutions and bilateral ‘donors’.

Ignoring lessons of history

India’s ten-point Intensive Agricultural Development Programme was more than just about seed, fertilizer and pesticide inputs. Its GR also provided credit, assured prices, improved marketing, extension services, village-level planning, analysis and evaluation.

These and other crucial elements are missing or not developed appropriately in recent AGRA initiatives. Sponsors of the ersatz GR in Africa have largely ignored such requirements.

Instead, the technophile AGRA initiative has been enamoured with novel technical innovations while not sufficiently appreciating indigenous and other ‘old’ knowledge, science and technology, or even basic infrastructure.

The Asian GR relied crucially on improving cultivation conditions, including better water management. There has been little such investment by AGRA or others, even when the crop promoted requires such improvements.

From tragedy to farce

Unsurprisingly, Africa’s GR has reproduced many of India’s problems:

  • As in India, overall staple crop productivity has not grown significantly faster despite costly investments in GR technologies. These poor productivity growth rates have remained well below population growth rates.
  • Moderate success in one priority crop (e.g., wheat in Punjab, India, or maize in Africa) has typically been at the expense of sustained productivity growth for other crops.
  • Crop and dietary diversity has been reduced, adversely affecting cultivation sustainability, nutrition, health and wellbeing.
  • Subsidies and other incentives have meant more land devoted to priority crops, not just intensification, with adverse land use and nutrition impacts.
  • Soil health and fertility have suffered from ‘nutrient-mining’ due to priority crop monocropping, requiring more inorganic fertilizer purchases.
  • Higher input costs often exceed additional earnings from modest yield increases using new seeds and agrochemicals, increasing farmer debt.

Paths not taken

AGRA and other African GR proponents have had 14 years, plus billions of dollars, to show that input-intensive agriculture can raise productivity, net incomes and food security. They have clearly failed.

Africans — farmers, consumers and governments — have many good reasons to be wary, especially considering AGRA’s track record after a decade and a half. India’s experience and the ongoing farmer protests there should make them more so.

Selling Africa’s GR as innovation requiring unavoidable ‘creative destruction’ is grossly misleading. Alternatively, many agroecology initiatives, which technophiles decry as backward, are bringing cutting-edge science and technology to farmers, with impressive results.

A 2006 University of Essex survey, of nearly 300 large ecological agriculture projects in more than fifty poor countries, documented an average 79% productivity increase, with declining costs and rising incomes.

Published when AGRA was launched, these results far surpass those of GRs thus far. Sadly, they remind us of the high opportunity costs of paths not taken due to well-financed technophile dogma.

For more detail, see Wise’s “Old Fertilizer in New Bottles: Selling the Past as Innovation in Africa’s Green Revolution.” See also “Africa at the Crossroads: Time to abandon failing Green Revolution,” with Million Belay of the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA). On Earth Day April 22 join AFSA’s “Agroecology for Climate Action” social media campaign.

See related:

Sen. Markey and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez Reintroduce Green New Deal

Senator Markey

Streamed live 5 hours ago

In the two years since we introduced the Green New Deal, we’ve built a diverse, organized army of activists, leaders, and communities demanding the most ambitious action possible on climate. Now, the era of the Green New Deal is here. Join us as we reintroduce the Green New Deal on the National Mall.

Noam Chomsky: On Power and Ideology | The New School

The New School

Published on Sep 21, 2015

Presented by Haymarket Books and the Schools of Public Engagement (http://www.newschool.edu/public-engag…​) at The New School (http://www.newschool.edu​), Noam Chomsky discusses the persistent and largely invariant features of U.S. foreign policy — in the words of U.S. planners, “the overall framework of order” — and its intimate relationship with U.S. domestic policy.

MIT Institute Professor (emeritus) of linguistics and philosophy Noam Chomsky is widely regarded to be one of the foremost critics of U.S. foreign policy in the world. He has published numerous groundbreaking books, articles, and essays on global politics, history, and linguistics. His recent books include The New York Times bestsellers Hegemony or Survival and Failed States, as well as Hopes and Prospects and Masters of Mankind. Haymarket Books is currently reissuing twelve of his classic books in new editions.

Location: John L. Tishman Auditorium, University Center Saturday, September 19, 2015 at 7:00 pm

2014 “Noam Chomsky”: Why you can not have a Capitalist Democracy!


Published on Oct 5, 2014

©2014 Leigha Cohen Video Production http://www.leighacohenvideo.com/https://www.youtube.com/user/LeighaCohen

During the Q&A period after Noam Chomsky gave a lecture at 1199 SEIU Union Hall located in Dorchester, MA on September 30, 2014. “Capitalist Democracy and its Prospect’s” he spoke why you can not have a capitalist democracy. During the 18 minutes he speaks about one of the architects of modern Capitalism, Adam Smith, Laissez-faire Economics, people’s misinterpretations of Adam Smith specifically when it comes to what personal freedom actually is. He tears into what Modern Libertarianism has become in the US. He talks about the transitioning economy from being technology based to biology based. He finally discussed how people income impact political decisions and referred to the Orwellian term “Unpeople “to describe the largest percentage of people who are disenfranchised from political decisions and power and believes as compared to the occupy movement that the country is being rules in a Plutocracy ruled by the top 0.1% of wealth..

The lecture was sponsored by MA Jobs With Justice http://www.massjwj.net/​ Massachusetts Jobs with Justice is a coalition of community, faith and labor groups in Massachusetts who work to protect and promote workers’ rights, along with our sister coalition, Western Mass Jobs with Justice.

Unless otherwise indicated, all materials on in this video are copyrighted to Leigha Cohen Video, All rights reserved. No part of this video may be used for any purpose other than educational use and any monetary gain from this video is prohibited without prior permission from me. Therefore, reproduction, modification, storage in a retrieval system is prohibited. Standard linking of this video is allowed and encouraged.

Most Schooling Is Training for Stupidity and Conformity – Noam Chomsky on Education

The Film Archives

Published on Jun 1, 2012

Avram Noam Chomsky (born December 7, 1928) is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, and activist. More Chomsky: https://www.amazon.com/gp/search?ie=U…

He is an Institute Professor and Professor (Emeritus) in the Department of Linguistics & Philosophy at MIT, where he has worked for over 50 years. Chomsky has been described as the “father of modern linguistics” and a major figure of analytic philosophy. His work has influenced fields such as computer science, mathematics, and psychology.

Ideologically identifying with anarcho-syndicalism and libertarian socialism, Chomsky is known for his critiques of U.S. foreign policy and contemporary capitalism, and he has been described as a prominent cultural figure. His media criticism has included Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (1988), co-written with Edward S. Herman, an analysis articulating the propaganda model theory for examining the media.

According to the Arts and Humanities Citation Index in 1992, Chomsky was cited as a source more often than any other living scholar from 1980 to 1992, and was the eighth most cited source overall. Chomsky is the author of over 100 books. He is credited as the creator or co-creator of the Chomsky hierarchy, the universal grammar theory, and the Chomsky–Schützenberger theorem.

Chomsky sees science as a straightforward search for explanation, and rejects the views of it as a catalog of facts or mechanical explanations. In this light, the majority of his contributions to science have been frameworks and hypotheses, rather than “discoveries.”

As such, he considers certain so-called post-structuralist or postmodern critiques of logic and reason to be nonsensical:

I have spent a lot of my life working on questions such as these, using the only methods I know of; those condemned here as “science”, “rationality,” “logic,” and so on. I therefore read the papers with some hope that they would help me “transcend” these limitations, or perhaps suggest an entirely different course. I’m afraid I was disappointed. Admittedly, that may be my own limitation. Quite regularly, “my eyes glaze over” when I read polysyllabic discourse on the themes of poststructuralism and postmodernism; what I understand is largely truism or error, but that is only a fraction of the total word count. True, there are lots of other things I don’t understand: the articles in the current issues of math and physics journals, for example. But there is a difference. In the latter case, I know how to get to understand them, and have done so, in cases of particular interest to me; and I also know that people in these fields can explain the contents to me at my level, so that I can gain what (partial) understanding I may want. In contrast, no one seems to be able to explain to me why the latest post-this-and-that is (for the most part) other than truism, error, or gibberish, and I do not know how to proceed.

Although Chomsky believes that a scientific background is important to teach proper reasoning, he holds that science in general is “inadequate” to understand complicated problems like human affairs:

Science talks about very simple things, and asks hard questions about them. As soon as things become too complex, science can’t deal with them… But it’s a complicated matter: Science studies what’s at the edge of understanding, and what’s at the edge of understanding is usually fairly simple. And it rarely reaches human affairs. Human affairs are way too complicated.


Wendell Berry – Kentucky Arts And Letters Day 2019

The Berry Center

Published on Dec 19, 2019

On November 9, 2019, The Berry Center welcomed 11 of Kentucky’s finest writers and poets and about 500 of the literary loving public to our home here in New Castle, Kentucky for a full day of readings, art, food, and fellowship. For more information, visit www.berrycenter.org or on Facebook at http://facebook.com/TheBerryCenter

Mary Berry reads an excerpt from her father Wendell Berry’s essay “Solving for Pattern” – YouTube

The Berry Center

Published on Apr 7, 2021

This reading is the first in a four-part series leading up to the celebration of Earth Day 2021. Mary Berry reads from her father’s essay “Solving for Pattern” written in 1980 and published in his book “The Gift of Good Land” in 1982.

Wendell Berry delivered his “Think Little” speech for the first Earth Day celebration at the University of Kentucky on April 22, 1970. You can find a copy of this speech, his essays, and books at http://www.berrycenterbookstore.com/

“… if we apply our minds directly and competently to the needs of the earth, then we will have begun to make fundamental and necessary changes in our minds. … We will see that war and oppression and pollution are not separate issues but are aspects of the same issue. Amid the outcries for the liberation of this group or that, we will know that no person is free except in the freedom of other persons and that our only real freedom is to know and faithfully occupy our place – a much humbler place that we have been taught to think – in the order of creation.”

– Wendell Berry, “Think Little”. In Essays 1969-1990. Jack Shoemaker, Editor (p.143). The Library of America.

“Solving For Pattern” by Wendell Berry – Excerpt IV – Read by Mary Berry

The Berry Center

Published on Apr 20, 2021

Friends, As we anticipate the celebration of Earth Day on Thursday, April 22, we share with you the fourth and final reading from Wendell’s essay “Solving for Pattern” read by his daughter and founder of The Berry Center, Mary Berry.

This essay was written in 1980 and then published in Wendell’s book “The Gift of Good Land” in 1982. If you missed the previous readings you can watch them on our Youtube page.

In this excerpt, Berry offers the final set of standards to support the three solutions for solving the problems of industrial agriculture and therefore the problems of our culture.

We hope you enjoy this reading from Mary.

And as always, you can shop for Wendell’s publications, popular titles, children’s books, and more Kentucky authors at http://www.berrycenterbookstore.com.

Message by Ursula von der Leyen on the occasion of the G20 Health Summit (CSO event)

European Commission

Published on Apr 20, 2021

Watch on the Audiovisual Portal of the European Commission: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/v…

Building A Net-Zero, Nature-Positive Economy (Option 1) | DAVOS AGENDA 2021

World Economic Forum

Published on Apr 20, 2021

As countries and companies step up their commitments to fight climate change and halt nature loss, an integrated approach to economics and finance will be required, particularly in the post-COVID recovery.

What policy and financial opportunities are available to trigger a decade of action that is sustainable and equitable for all?

Speakers: Justin Adams, Nancie Zhu, Anderson Tanoto, Inger Andersen, Jennifer Morgan, Malik Amin Aslam, Ma Jun, Ibrahim Thiaw

The World Economic Forum is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation. The Forum engages the foremost political, business, cultural and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas. We believe that progress happens by bringing together people from all walks of life who have the drive and the influence to make positive change.