Tuesday, September 19, 2006

African Farms and the Green Revolution

An interesting article from the National Geographic showing how the US may be willing to plough millions of $'s of charitable funds to help African farmers when perhaps all they need is to be able to compete with Western farmers on a level playing field. The recent Doha round failure says it all.

Two major U.S. philanthropic groups will spend $150 million (U.S.) over the next five years to bring a "green revolution" to Africa's small farms.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation last week announced that they will contribute $100 million and $50 million respectively to help Africa's rural farmers boost food production.

Working together as the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, the foundations are seeking to develop and secure access to higher-yield, drought-resistant seed varieties that will grow in Africa's nutritionally spent soil.
So far, so good. However, when one considers the US and the West's stance at the recent Doha round negotiations that failed due, in part, to the West's instance on maintaining high tariffs on argicultural products it is clear that more could be done.
Others point to broader economic problems.

"I guess not even Bill Gates can do much about the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's agricultural and trade policies, which systematically sabotage the efforts of African farmers to produce more and better food," said Gran Djurfeldt, an agriculture expert at Sweden's Lund University.

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