Essay by Eric Worrall
According to Professor William G. Moseley, if we balance the insects just right, Africans can live in happy little climate friendly agrarian villages rather than joining the modern world.
Climate crisis in Africa exposes real cause of hunger – colonial food systems that leave people more vulnerable
Published: December 10, 2022 4.52pm AEDT
William G. MoseleyDeWitt Wallace Professor of Geography, Director of Food, Agriculture & Society Program, Macalester College
Historically smallholder and women farmers have produced the lion’s share of food crops on the African continent. Over the past 60 years, global decision makers, big philanthropy, business interests and large swaths of the scientific community have focused on increased food production, trade, and energy intensive farming methods as the best way to address global and African hunger.
Decolonising African agriculture
So, how did we get here?
Certain countries and businesses profit from productionist approaches to addressing hunger. These include, for example, Monsanto, which developed the herbicide Round-Up. Or the four companies (Archer-Daniels-Midland, Bunge, Cargill and Louis Dreyfus) that control 70%-90% of the global grain trade.
The productionist focus is also engrained in the agricultural sciences. Tropical agronomy, now known as “development agronomy”, was central to the colonial enterprise in Africa. The main objective for colonial powers was to transform local food systems. This pushed many African households away from subsistence farming and the production of food for local markets. Instead, they moved towards the cultivation of commodity crops needed to fuel European economic expansion, such as cotton in Mali, coffee in Kenya, and cacao in Côte d’Ivoire.
Agroecology and the way forward
Agroecologists can offer a different way forward. They seek to understand the ecological interactions between different crops, crops and the soil and atmosphere, and crops and insect communities. They seek to maintain soil fertility, minimise predation from pests and grow more crops without using chemical inputs.
The fact that agroecological farming is less expensive has not been lost on the business community. They would lose out substantially if conventional farming approaches were no longer associated with hunger alleviation.
…Read more: https://theconversation.com/climate-crisis-in-africa-exposes-real-cause-of-hunger-colonial-food-systems-that-leave-people-more-vulnerable-195933
In marginal areas, herders have to keep moving, to avoid overgrazing. This much I agree with.
But what if Africans don’t want to live like medieval peasants, with a little sciency help, for the rest of eternity?
Everyone I’ve spoken to who was born in Africa got out because of the lack of opportunity. I know someone who hasn’t been back for years, because poverty has turned his home into a war zone – returning home for a visit, letting people notice there might be a wealthy person in the family, would expose him and his family to kidnapping risk or worse. And people would notice. Poor people notice everything, their survival depends on it.
Why is Africa like this? Look into the mirror. Our ancestors of hundreds of years ago lived in violent nations full of want and hunger, early death and misery. Kidnapping was so common one of our ancestors wrote a famous story about kidnapping, which has survived to today. If someone living in one of Africa’s trouble spots was dropped into 16th or 17th century Britain, Europe or America, I suspect the insecurity, crime and violence they encountered would all seem very familiar.
“Agroecology” isn’t going to sort out such hellish deprivation. An African industrial revolution is what is needed. Just as the Western industrial revolution saved Western countries from hunger, misery and insecurity, modern agriculture, fertiliser, pesticide, irrigation, high yields and industry is helping Africa follow in our footsteps, and will ultimately help Africans achieve Western levels of prosperity and security.