Does Africa need a new Green Revolution?

Tanzanian farm

By Ronald Aminzade

“Green Revolution” is the label for concerted initiatives to increase agricultural production and prevent hunger and starvation in major regions of the world. Earlier efforts, largely credited to biologist Norman Borlaug (1914 – 2009), University of Minnesota alum and Nobel laureate, transformed agriculture in Mexico, India and the Philippines – by facilitating the use of new technologies and commercial seeds, fertilizers and pesticides to produce high-yield cereal grains.

In 2006, two of the world’s largest foundations, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, joined forces to launch the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa. With the Gates Foundation alone contributing around one billion dollars by 2012, the stated goals were to reduce poverty by helping smallholder farmers, including women, gain greater access to markets, credit and productivity-enhancing technologies to generate higher yields of staple food crops. In collaboration with African governments, multinational corporations, research institutes and farmers’ organizations, the Gates Foundation is pushing market integration and the use of chemical fertilizers and commercial seeds (including hybrid and genetically modified seeds). Continue reading