Monday, November 14, 2005

African farmers need inorganic fertilizers!

On 10 November the Swedish Agricultural University boldly hosted a seminar on Livelihoods, Food Security and HIV & Aids in Africa, with the participation of ambassadors from Southern and eastern Africa.
Magnus Jirström from Lund University gave a key presentation. With colleagues he had recently researched the straight forward question: ?If green revolution worked in Asia, why not in Africa.? The study design was pragmatic, but well thought through, using macro and micro level studies in both continents. In Africa 3000 farm households in 8 countries were interviewed.
Results were that global and national agricultural policies must promote higher productivity at farm level by adequate input of planting material and fertilizer and that farmers market access is key to poverty alleviation. I got convinced that this research is worth reading in detail. It is now available as a book that I have ordered:
The African Food Crisis: Lessons from the Asian Green Revolution. Edited by Göran Djurfeldt, Hans Holmen, Magnus Jirstrom and Rolf Larsson.
That inorganic fertilizers were superior to organic in African small scale farming is not surprising. In spite of widely held ideas in post-industrialized societies that African farmers can do without inorganic fertilizers I have never read convincing studies that supporte these ideas, and therefore regard them as a promonent global myth.


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