In this lecture you will learn about:
Those most at risk of food shortage tend to be located in conflict zones, where food cannot reach them. Weather and hazardous climatic or environmental conditions are less important than politics influencing food production and distribution. Active and post-conflict zones suffering food shortage predominate in sub-Saharan Africa and, to a lesser degree, in South-East and western Asia. Conflict zones, even if they are receiving food aid, tend to be food poor. Social and climatic disaster usually combine to create situations of resource poverty that set the stage for chronic food poverty for years to come.
Seasonal or periodic hunger constitutes the second general case of food shortage. This persists outside conflict zones in local settings where food production combined with other economic activities is insufficient to support adequate diets year-round or from year to year where single-year productivity is variable and low. Increasingly, these pockets of food shortfall are reached by intervention programmes, that provide relief food, often through "food-for-work" employment programmes, Where markets or food relief penetrate relatively isolated local food systems, as in many parts of Africa and South Asia, food shortage is removed but is replaced by chronic food poverty (Messer 1989)."
|"THE DOWNSIDE OF THE GREEN REVOLUTION
So, the Green Revolution did help increase total food output, but the news is not all good. The technologies of the green revolution should be looked at as the plant equivalent of steroid use in human athletes. A jock that uses steroids will gain muscle and strength faster and have a competitive advantage. cartoon image of crop duster plane But the big boost is not sustainable over a long period of time, and the negative side effects are well known and often catastrophic to the athlete.
In the case of Green Revolution farming, the chemicals used pollute our land, air, and water; the switch from heavily rotated multiple crops to mono-cropping or dual-cropping reduces total soil fertility and the nutritional value of our food; and the lower number of seed varieties used reduces the genetic diversity found in crops, thus endangering the stability of farm output in the future. The side effects related to soil fertility and genetic diversity will ultimately take their toll. Indeed, yield increases in today's farm fields have generally leveled off and, in cases such as rice and wheat, yields are beginning to decline in some areas.
Let's be a little more specific about the problems associated with Green Revolution farming:
* Farmers, farm workers,
and all of us are continually exposed to chemical pesticides due to their
widespread use, with each of us carrying a body burden of the toxins.
"The following sections in these notes
address implications of the green revolution for:
"The Myth of High Yields
The term “high-yielding varieties” is a misnomer, because it implies that the new seeds are high yielding of themselves. The distinguishing feature of the seeds, however, is that they are highly responsive to certain key inputs such as fertilizers and irrigation water. The term “high responsive varieties” is thus more appropriate.
In the absence of additional inputs of fertilizers and water, the new seeds perform worse than indigenous varieties. The gain in output is insignificant compared to the increase in inputs. The measurement of output is also biased by restricting it to the marketable elements of crops. But, in a country like India, crops have traditionally been bred to produce not just food for humans, but fodder for animals and organic fertilizer for soils. In the breeding strategy for the Green Revolution, multiple uses of plant biomass seem to have been consciously sacrificed for a single use. An increase in the marketable output of grain has been achieved at the cost of a decrease in the biomass available for animals and soils from, for example, stems and leaves, and a decrease in ecosystem productivity due to the over-use of resources.
Significantly, much of the increased yield obtained by planting the new HYV varieties consists of water. Increasing the nitrogen uptake of plants through using artificial fertilizers upsets their carbon/ nitrogen balance, causing metabolic problems to which the plant reacts primarily by taking up extra water.
India is a centre of genetic diversity of rice. Out of this diversity, Indian peasants and tribals have selected and improved many indigenous high yielding varieties. Comparative studies of 22 rice growing systems have shown that indigenous systems are more efficient when inputs of labour and energy are taken into account.2
Loss of Diversity
The Green Revolution package has reduced genetic diversity at two levels. First, it replaced mixtures and rotations of crops like wheat, maize, millets, pulses and oil seeds with monocultures of wheat and rice. Second, the introduced wheat and rice varieties came from a very narrow genetic base. Of the thousands of dwarf varieties bred by Borlaug, only three were eventually used in the Green Revolution. On this narrow and alien genetic base the food supplies of millions are precariously perched.
Increasing Pesticide Use
The natural vulnerability of HYVs to pests has been exacerbated by other aspects of the Green Revolution package. Large-scale monoculture provides a large and often permanent niche for pests, turning minor diseases into epidemics; in addition, fertilizers have been found to lower plants’ resistance to pests. The result has been a massive increase in the use of pesticides, in itself creating still further pest problems due to the emergence of pesticide-resistant pests and a reduction in the natural checks on pest populations.
The “miracle” seeds of the Green Revolution have thus become mechanisms for breeding new pests and creating new diseases. Yet the costs of pesticides or of breeding new “resistant” varieties was never counted as part of the “miracle” of the new seeds.
Marginal land or forests have been cleared to make way for the expansion of agriculture; rotations have been abandoned; and cropland is now used to grow soil depleting crops year-in, year-out. Since the start of the Green Revolution, the area under wheat, for example, has nearly doubled and the area under rice has increased five-fold. During the same period, the area under legumes has been reduced by half. Today, 84 per cent of the Punjab is under cultivation, as against 42 per cent for India as a whole. Only four per cent of the Punjab is now “forest”, most of this being plantations of Eucalyptus.5
The result of such agricultural intensification has been “a downward spiraling of agricultural land use - from legume to wheat to wasteland.”6 The removal of legumes from cropping patterns, for example, has removed a major source of free nitrogen from the soil. In addition, the new HYVs reduce the supply of fodder and organic fertilizer available to farmers. Traditional varieties of sorghum yield six pounds of straw per acre for every pound of grain. By contrast modem rice varieties produce equivalent amounts of grain and straw. This has contributed to the thirty-fold rise in fertilizer consumption in the state since the inception of the Green Revolution.
Increased fertilizer use, however, has not compensated for the over-use of the soil. High-yielding varieties rapidly deplete micronutrients from soils and chemical fertilizers (unlike organic manures which contain a wide range of trace elements) cannot compensate for the loss. Micronutrient deficiencies of zinc, iron, copper, manganese, magnesium, molybdenum and boron are thus common. In recent surveys, over half of the 8706 soil samples from the Punjab exhibited zinc deficiency, reducing yields of rice, wheat and maize by up to 3.9 tonnes per hectare.
Partly as a result of soil deficiencies, the productivity of wheat and rice has declined in many districts in the Punjab, in spite of increasing levels of fertilizer application.
One result of the Green Revolution has therefore been to create conflicts over diminishing water resources. Where crops are dependent on groundwater for irrigation, the water table is declining at an estimated rate of one-third to half a metre per year. A recent survey by the Punjab Directorate of Water Resources, has shown that 60 out of the 118 development blocks in the state cannot sustain any further increase in the number of tube wells." CITATION
SEEDS OF PLENTY, SEEDS OF SORROWa movie
TRIPLE WHAMMY OF UNSTABLE AGRICULTURE
1. MONOCULTURE or the planting of mile after mile of the same species of crop like grains or soybeans or rice. This lack of diversity means that it is highly UNSTABLE. The primary problem with monoculture is that any pest, virus, bacteria, fungus, insect can quickly reproduce and wipe out the entire crop. OR, bad climate will wipe out the entire crop. The potato famine in Ireland was an example of relying on a single crop that was hit with devastating disease that wiped out the main staple of their diet
2. HYBRID SEED, (like high yield) are genetically identical which means there is no genetic diversity that could have resistance to pests or disease.
UNSUITABLE OR MARGINAL CROPS
|AND ONE OTHER THING..........
Anyone remember the explosion Dec. 3, 1984 when Methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas leaks from a Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, India?
"The Bhopal facility was part of India's
Green Revolution aimed to increase the productivity of crops. Considered
an essential factor in the effort to achieve self-sufficiency in agricultural
production, pesticide production use increased dramatically during the
late 1960's and early 1970's. The decision to manufacture the pesticides
in India, as opposed to relying on imports was based on India's goal of
preserving foreign exchange and its policy of industrialization (Cassels,
p.39). In 1969, Union Carbide (UCC-the parent company) set up a small
plant (Union Carbide India Ltd.- UCIL) in Bhopal, the capital city of Madhya
Pradesh, to formulate pesticides." CITATION
|What are the failures
of the "green revolution"?
Why is the green revolution not sustainable over the long haul?
What are the "myths of the high yields"?
What does high yield crops do to the land?
What is the triple whammy of unstable agriculture? What are the problems seen?
What happens when productivity is enhanced at the cost of diversity?
good luck on the final exam. Live
long and prosper \V/