by wim hiemstra on July 13, 2011

Finger Millet Magic

Traditional seed varieties and livestock breeds contribute more to sustainable economic development then modern varieties and breeds

The picture shows an Indian farmer with finger millet who is supported by the organic farming producer company Sahaja Samruda. (www.sahajasamrudha.org). On 25 March 2011 Olivier de Schutter, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food presented his report ‘Agro-ecology and the Right to Food’ to the UN Human Rights Council. Some views expressed:

‘Agro-ecology delivers advantages that are complementary to better known conventional approaches such as breeding high-yielding varieties. And it strongly contributes to the broader economic development.’

‘Agro-ecology also puts agriculture on the path of sustainability by de-linking food production from the reliance on fossil energy (oil and gas). It contributes to mitigating climate change by both increasing carbon sinks in soil organic matter and above-ground biomass’.

‘Farmers often receive commercial varieties as part of a package that includes credit (often vouchers), seed, fertilizer and pesticide.  Such a development may be consistent with a linear idea of progress favouring the replacement by high-yielding varieties of traditional crop varieties in the most productive areas. Yet it is a deeply problematic development even apart from the increased dependency of farmers it leads to.’

‘Farmers’ seed systems may be particularly important to resource-poor farmers in resource-poor agro-ecological environments, because of the importance for production in such environments of locally adapted varieties.’

Would the economy be better off if the focus in agricultural development was shifted from high-yielding to traditional animal and crop varieties? Would food security be at stake during the transition period? Would food prices increase for urban consumers? Post your views and join the debate!

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