Africa’s green revolution?

The Fat Man points out that Madeleine Bunting has what is for her a relatively sane article in today’s Guardian. While the piece may indeed be largely free of Bunting’s usual ill-informed tosh, it is at the same time pretty much content-free.

Those who are seriously interested in the issues that Bunting singularly fails to address in her Guardian column should read two consecutive articles (here and here) in the 5 April 2008 issue of New Scientist magazine.

Both articles are by experts associated with the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development. The first, by Wageningen University social scientist Janice Jiggins, takes what most would probably describe as a leftish line on the issues. This is obviously an over-simplification, but I really haven’t the time to discuss the articles in depth. I just want to flag these essays as examples of how the debate should be conducted. The second piece, by Syngenta agricultural geneticist Deborah Keith, is distinctly pro-corporate. Keith apparently walked out of the IAASTD following major differences of opinion with the majority faction.

And the thing is, from reading these two articulately-worded arguments, but knowing virtually nothing about the internal politics involved, I would say that Jiggins and Keith are both right in their own way. It’s just a shame that such a useful international forum has split in this way.

As for Bunting, I agree with her that the key to feeding the world is small farmers. But I’m not altogether sure she understands why this is so.