The next green revolution: WARNINGS

M. S. Swaminathan was one of the keynote speakers at the 2nd World Seed Conference held recently in Rome. He is credited with being one of the fathers of the Green Revolution

His speech can be downloaded at:

One of his key points was that:

“This (the next green revolution) should be achieved without harm to the ecological foundations essential for sustainable agriculture. The green revolution should become an ever-green revolution…without ecological harm.”

Speaking as a member of the final panel discussion, he went further and talked specifically about the damage in India caused by over use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.   See the general interest article that appeared earlier this year in National Geographic which discusses this issue.

The next Green Revolution is underway in Africa with dozens of organizations (including ICRISAT with its seed alliances) focusing on increasing agricultural output. The topic of sustainability is gaining traction, and Malawi farmer association NASFAM comments in its June 2009 newsletter, “Titukulane”, that:

“….there have been damaging consequences of the methods used. The use of inorganic fertilizers and pesticides has damaged the environment and ecosystems, impoverished the soil and polluted water supplies. The use of hybrid seeds has reduced biodiversity and created mono-cultures which are susceptible to disease and epidemics….The costs of dealing with these problems are hidden and carried by society in general. “

NASFAM is taking this mission seriously, and in the same newsletter (available to members) has a new section on Conservation Agriculture in which it provides detailed instructions targeting s/h farmers on a range of activities they can easily adopt. There is also a very well written feature on Turning your green plant residues to “gold” which describes how to make natural compost.

Post written by Peter Bloch, consultant to CAS-IP

12 responses to “The next green revolution: WARNINGS

  1. You say that the topic of sustainability is gaining traction, but there’s precious little evidence of this. Over and over we seem to hear that the big new funders, including AGRA, who ought to be able to “think different” are in fact pursuing the same old plans of intensification through simplification. Single, miraculous varieties seem to be the order of the day.

    Where is the serious research into resilience and sustainability?

    As an aside to the web master, could you possibly turn off those horrible snapshots? They block my view of the rest of the page when I hover on the link. If I’m deciding whether I want to read the link, a rinky-dink little picture of the site isn’t going to tip me either way.

  2. Speaking of that National Geographic article you quote, you might like to look at this reaction:

  3. Responding to Jeremy:
    I was perhaps a little over enthusastic! But I see real progress when NASFAM, with 100k+ s/h farmer members, is talking seriously about conservation agriculture and organic fertilizer! And when Swaminathan talked about the environmental damage caused by the Green Revolution, and mainstream publications like African Business do likewise, I see the building of a foundation on which we can help grow sustainable practices.

    Thanks so much for the link which I will read as soon as I get a decent connection (internet in Malawi is very slow!)

  4. (Snapshot preview on the blog has been disabled.)

  5. I still see the blasted pop-ups. Keep trying.

  6. Luigi:
    I’ve read your post commenting on the National Geographic article.
    I hear you! This is complex and, based on my experience, there are many people and many groups trying different approaches.
    To paraphrase a social critic: when I look at the “facts” I am pessimistic; but when I look at all the people around the world who are working on grassroots solutions, I am optimistic! I think that one of the reasons we often get presented with this kind of choice is that big donors with big plans and big payoffs are bound to defend their approach as being the “right” one! In reality I think that the “many approaches” is prevailing.

  7. How’s that? I think I’ve done it properly now.
    You are not alone in the pop-up hatred by the way….

  8. Green revolution has come to mean something very positive about people and the environment. But if we were to vover all the surface of the earth with grass, it would be green but not so useful! So we really want a GREEN and WOODY revolution. I just want to emphasize that treesis are the most important component in the green future world. Let us then be more explicit about it. For the CGIAR system, carbon rich agriculture may be a more interesting jargon.

  9. Thank you, August. In my recent travels I keep on hearing about “fertilizer trees”, and I recollect talking to cocoa farmers in Ecuador two years ago, instead of clear cutting for large plantations they were planting what they called “shade” trees which also provided natural fertilizer.

  10. The recent World Agroforestry Congress really raised the profile of Faidherbia albida, that’s for sure. It was all over the news!

  11. @ Kay: Indeed you have. Thanks from me and, I’m sure, many other happy readers.

  12. Pingback: Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto « the CAS-IP blog

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