Did someone say 'green revolution'?
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Breman, H. 1998. Did someone say 'green revolution'?. Spore 76. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
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Dr H. Breman, Director of the International Centre for Soil Fertility Management in Togo, has a response to the opening article in Spore 73, about the Green Revolution. 'The core of my criticism is that you identify the lack of natural resources in...
Dr H. Breman, Director of the International Centre for Soil Fertility Management in Togo, has a response to the opening article in Spore 73, about the Green Revolution. 'The core of my criticism is that you identify the lack of natural resources in Africa as a constraint, but you do not appreciate the gravity of the problem. The analysis of the success of the Green Revolution is simplified, as you recognise yourself. You only talk about climate factors, and the availability and management of water with regard to agro-ecology. A more important aspect is the quality of the soil. A special feature of Africa is that natural resources (combinations of soil and climate) are so poor that we have already reached over-exploitation of the soil, at a level of population density far below that reached elsewhere. What we need now is more external inputs, but this is happening at a time when the state of infrastructure is not helpful to develop an effective market for inputs and outputs, when job creation outside agriculture is problematical, and when the domestic market is underdeveloped. In addition, the quality of natural resources is so poor that inputs such as fertiliser are much less efficient than elsewhere. An alternative for the small farmer and marginal zones is in soil improvement, using non-organic enriching agents and fertilisers. Combining these fertilisers with some elements of ecological agriculture can be effective and profitable. The efficiency of external inputs has to be improved with ecological agriculture, rather than limiting their use as much as possible. I agree with you that we have to change socio-economic conditions as well as the natural environment if the Green Revolution is to become a reality in Africa.' Dr Breman goes on to mention one possible approach described in the document 'Strategic framework for national action plans to improve soil fertility' and which specifies the rôles of all stakeholders, from farmer to national decision-makers. (in: Proceedings of the 'International Workshop on Elaborating Strategies for Restoring Soil Fertility in sub-Saharan Africa', Lomé, 22-25 April 1997. World Bank, Washington; IFDC, Mussel Shoals).
- CTA Spore (English)