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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Understanding the Place of Traditional Agriculture in Africa's Food Security

Here is a link to the interview.William Moseley, a geographer from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, recently returned from a study trip to Botswana. He talks about the changes in African agriculture and the importance of traditional small scale agriculture for food security. The public education issue he identifies would be familiar to people thinking about food issues in rural Minnesota, where small scale agriculture is similarly under-valued.

1 comment:

  1. Peter,

    Dr. Moseley is very admirable, realistic and, of course, extremely well-informed, and it's terribly interesting/optimistic/sad to hear his comments on farming in Botswana as it is today.

    It's sad to a great extent because there were excellent doctoral and post-doc projects on (essentially timeless) indigenous crop/fertilizer/pesticide/cow-feed subsistence farming in the late '60's/early 70's (after Independence) through the U of Botswana/Botswanan Ministry of Ag in conjunction with the British.
    One of their discoveries was the perfect cow-feed, as the cows were then under-fed and even dying: it was beetroot peels (beetroot is still a common street-food), coconut husks (they export the oil), and one other human food waste ingredient which I forget.

    In the late '70's and early '80's, the University of South Dakota was asked in, because, oddly, the land in both areas is very similar, and a lot of Botswanan students got their docs and did post-doc work traveling back and forth with their SDSU and Botswanan professors.

    All these people were well aware of the nascent global movement towards cash-crops, the serious failures of the Green Revolution, and the growing Monsanto/ADM game, and were working to buffer the poor from these forces.

    Admittedly, they were working to set up male-run farms, in which women played an equal role (they were intent on being as culturally- sensitive as possible). This obviously broke down during and after the '90's, as Dr. Moseley describes the situation. I wasn't sure from the interview whether there was a push in Botswana to train and employ women ag extension workers?

    There's such a wealth of knowledge on subsistence farming in the archives of the U of Botswana/Botswana Ministry of Ag, and it could be used by either gender of farmer, which is hopeful.