vague, but exciting

the porous city - other - agriculture



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I'm going some volunteer research for One Acre Fund and this popped up. Interesting!

If I could tell you the number of times random people have mentioned rotating maize with legumes to fix nitrogen in the soil ... ugh.

May is a lean month it seems.

Really cool idea. Supports rural radio broadcasters in Africa. Almost every farmer's home I visited in Kenya had a radio. What a simple way to reach a massively under-served population.

I don't think so, but I'm glad someone's trying.

This is so contrary to my experience I have to mention it.
The increasingly urbanized youth are often reluctant to help with digging and hoeing ... "The consequence: A lot of land particularly rice fields is not exploited. This has increased the suffering of some families who have a hard time feeding themselves during certain periods of the year."
In the area of Kenya I live in, very little land is not exploited. For generations, people have had large families, and divided the land up among their sons. This has reduced the average plot size to below five acres. At this point, traditional farming methods do not yield enough to feed a family.

Senegal's situation, to be frank, seems enviable to me. They are at a much more sustainable level of population.

"We know what brings about a transformation of opportunities and it is not this."
A critique of, well, exactly what I'm doing.
The poverty of African peasants is not accidental: it is intrinsic to the peasant mode of economic organization. The very features that make the peasant mode of production appear attractive to jaded members of an industrialized society also make it unproductive. Large scale organization of specialized production, and integration into markets, are fundamental to the generation of income at a level that we now regard as necessary for a decent quality of life. We have been blinded to this evident fact by our own romantic attachment to the preservation of a society which is the antithesis of the modern.
I don't disagree with any of it. But the structural changes he's talking about require a really farsighted agricultural and industrial policy, which is not on the horizon. They also, in order to produce better lives in the near term, rather than in the glorious future, require a careful migration path. For most farmers, land is their only real asset. How will they be recompensed, resettled, reintegrated? These questions aren't even being asked yet. So I think there is a place for efforts to improve farmers' incomes right now, before any grand plans take shape.

The GMO thing is a red herring, I think he throws it in for shock value. The real issue is the move to efficient, large-scale farming.

... and what does that mean for small farmers?
Unpredictable weather has always presented serious problems for smallholder farmers and fishing communities in poor countries, but farming is becoming even more difficult and risky because of the greater unpredictability in seasonal rainfall patterns. Heat stress, lack of water at crucial times and pests and diseases are serious problems that climate change appears to be exacerbating. These all interact with ongoing pressures on land, soils and water resources that would exist regardless of climate change. The most common observation is that the changes are "shortening" the growing season.
We've seen these effects first-hand. The season of long rains has started 2-3 weeks late for the past couple of years, and rain during this crucial growing season has been more unpredictable.

Cool idea for agriculture in developing countries: bring in your sick plants, get diagnosis and prescription. I believe we've emailed photos of maize to experts in the past.

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