Western do-gooders are impoverishing Africa by promoting traditional farming at the expense of modern scientific agriculture, according to Britain's former chief scientist.
Anti-science attitudes among aid agencies, poverty campaigners and green activists are denying the continent access to technology that could improve millions of lives, Professor Sir David King will say today.
Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from Europe and America are turning African countries against sophisticated farming methods, including GM crops, in favour of indigenous and organic approaches that cannot deliver the continent's much needed “green revolution”, he believes.
Speaking before a keynote lecture tonight to the British Association for the Advancement of Science, of which he is president, Sir David said that the slow pace of African development was linked directly to Western influence. “I'm going to suggest, and I believe this very strongly, that a big part has been played in the impoverishment of that continent by the focus on nontechnological agricultural techniques, on techniques of farming that pertain to the history of that continent rather than techniques that pertain to modern technological capability. Why has that continent not joined Asia in the big green revolutions that have taken place over the past few decades? The suffering within that continent, I believe, is largely driven by attitudes developed in the West which are somewhat anti-science, anti-technology - attitudes that lead towards organic farming, for example, attitudes that lead against the use of genetic technology for crops that could deal with increased salinity in the water, that can deal with flooding for rice crops, that can deal with drought resistance.”
I agree...we grow organic rice, but do use hybrid high yield seeds; our fertilizer is organic, but we add minerals as needed; and we use hand plows (large rototillers) that save a lot of energy in preparing the fields.
When we harvest, we use a thresher to separate the grain from the stem...but we still dry on the road (in the sun) but there are grain driers if a typhoon is around and theatening to keep the grain wet and prone to mold...
and with proper irrigation, we get two crops a year...and are trying to figure out if we could get three crops, as is done in the Mekong Delta.