IncreasingYieldsThe Green Revolution

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Information about IncreasingYieldsThe Green Revolution

Published on October 16, 2007

Author: Alien


Increasing Yields: The Green Revolution:  Increasing Yields: The Green Revolution Sources: Yields have increased:  Yields have increased British wheat yields tripled in last 50 years 15X increase from 500 years ago Cereal yield worldwide doubled since 1960s Reasons Yields Increase:  Reasons Yields Increase Increased inputs Labor Fertilizer Machinery increased output Using technology without increasing inputs Increased efficiency Production Function:  Production Function Initially, as input increases, output increases Eventually, a point of maximum efficiency will be reached Additional input will lead to diminished increases in output Inputs:  Inputs Fertilizer Can improve yields dramatically: 20-1000% Diminished response if keep adding Reduces growth at high levels Effectiveness depends on Water/Irrigation Timing of application Biggest increase will be in Africa Dem. Rep. Congo uses 1% fertilizer used in South Africa Cassava in Gambia Inputs:  Inputs Animal Traction 400 million draft animals in world ½ World’s ag land farmed with draft animals ¼ farmed with hand tools ¼ mechanized China Use of Draft Animals:  Use of Draft Animals Do the work of 3-4 humans Increase land able to be farmed Animal plowing breaks soil better than by hand Source of fertilizer Initial cost high Profitable if can expand land Vietnam Tractors:  Tractors Poorest farmers will consider moving from hand tools to animals Farmers using animals will consider using machinery May not be efficient choice: Credit limited Gas expensive Maintenance expensive But labor cheap Zimbabwe Big Growers More Efficient?:  Big Growers More Efficient? Are big growers more efficient? have the know-how to produce Would redistribution of land would lower production? hurt the hungry? Brazil Farm Answer:  Answer Big Growers are actually less efficient than small growers in yield/acre Often land left idle by large landowners (89% in Brazil) Big operations are fossil fuel intensive requiring 10 Calories for every one produced: NeoCaloric Ag Answer:  Answer Small farmers use labor more intensively Small farmers use space more efficiently Small landowners more motivated for production and conservation Tanzania Big Growers:  Big Growers Advantages of wealth and size Big farms can more easily survive Large operations with absentee owners (investors) tend to: Overuse the soil Over-spray with chemicals Remove wealth generated from the community Land Reform:  Land Reform World Bank: productivity would be increased if land distribution more equitable Land reform (redistribution) successful after WWII: South Korea, Taiwan China Recent success Japan Zimbabwe Kerala, India Kerala, India Green Revolution:  Green Revolution 1960’s: improved wheat varieties gave dramatic increase in yield in Mexico Varieties more responsive to irrigation and petrochemical fertilizers Soon new rice and maize varieties Norman Borlaug:  Norman Borlaug Joined Rockefeller Foundation team in Mexico 1944 Increased yield, rust resistance in wheat Biggest contributor to Green Revolution Won Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 Green Revolution:  Green Revolution 1970’s: spread to millions of third world farmers 1990’s: 40% of all farms in third world 75% Rice in Asia 80% Wheat in third world 70% Corn worldwide Improved standard of living for millions people worldwide CIMMYT :  CIMMYT CIMMYT International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center In Mexico Part of CGIAR Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research Criticisms of the Green Revolution:  Criticisms of the Green Revolution Green Revolution hasn’t alleviated hunger Economic power, land controlled by few Technology benefits wealthy Therefore Green Revolution increases inequity More hunger AND more food at same time Criticisms of the Green Revolution :  Criticisms of the Green Revolution Food Insecurity of poor not addressed Cash Crops: food flows from the poor and hungry nations to the rich and well-fed nations Green Revolution not sustainable destroys resource base on which agriculture depends Example: India:  Example: India Self-sufficient in grain due to Green Revolution But 1/3 of people poor 5,000 children die each day Poor cannot afford to BUY the food India Criticisms of the Green Revolution:  Criticisms of the Green Revolution Early, poor had little access to credit Could not buy seeds, fertilizer, irrigation to make Green Revolution work Wealthy invested, got richer, drove out poor Now, more emphasis on loans for poor There are still problems:  There are still problems Need good land (wealthy own) Agrochemicals bad for health, environment Expensive inputs: profits to global chemical companies Rural people displaced from land Mechanization reduces agricultural jobs Not ecologically sustainable: depletes soil, pesticide race Philippines Example:  Philippines Example Two villages studied: large and small farmers invested in Green Revolution Village 1 had more equal land holdings, solidarity All benefited from Green Revolution Village 2 dominated by a few wealthy landowners. Wealthy increased land by 50% at expense of poor Farm Squeeze:  Farm Squeeze Fertilizer use increases by huge amount Yields do not increase proportionally India: 6x rise in fertilizer use but 2/3 less production/ton fertilizer Need more fertilizer, pesticide each year for same result Thus cost go up faster than yields: cost-price squeeze Farm Squeeze:  Farm Squeeze U.S. true home of Green Revolution Yields up 3x but prices down To survive, must expand acreage to make up for lower per acre profit. U.S. Farm Squeeze:  U.S. Farm Squeeze Since WWII number of farms decreased 2/3 average farm size up ½ rural communities gutted production costs up from 50% of gross to 80% Soil Depletion Worldwide:  Soil Depletion Worldwide Dramatic increases in yields during 1970s, 1980s Soil now depleted, resulting in leveling off or dropping yields 6% of Ag land in India now useless Rice :  Rice Rice breeding at International Rice Research Institute: IRRI Rice Problem:  Rice Problem 1968: IR8 rice had 2x yield increase Short need herbicides to compete with weeds Uniform genetically susceptible to pests Brown plant hopper devastated rice Insecticide spraying useless brown hopper resistant Rice Problem:  Rice Problem 1973: IR26 Resistant to brown plant hopper Worked 2 years Then Biotype 2 of plant hoppers attacked Rice Problem:  Rice Problem 1975: IR32 Resistant to Biotype 2 Now Biotype 3 appeared Insecticides again useless Insecticides killed off brown hopper predators Resulted in 40x increase in hoppers Profits:  Profits Profits from Green Revolution go to Middlemen Banks Chemical companies Biggest growers Grain prices fall Farms get bigger Brazil Increased Dependency:  Increased Dependency Poor countries must import: Seeds Fertilizer Pesticides Herbicides Cost to India increased 600% 1960-1980 Biotechnology leads to more dependency Unsustainable Agriculture:  Unsustainable Agriculture Industrial agriculture = mining land to extract maximum output “War” between humans and weeds, insects and disease Market dictates weapons: pesticides and chemical fertilizers We are destroying our food- producing resources Destruction of Ag Resources:  Destruction of Ag Resources Desertification Soil erosion Pesticide contamination Groundwater depletion Salinization Urban sprawl Genetic resources shrinking Fossil fuels depleting Sustainable Agriculture Goals:  Sustainable Agriculture Goals Environmental Health Economic Profitability Social and Economic Equity Agroecology:  Agroecology Sustainable farming based on ecological principles: Diversity Interdependence Synergy Complex interactions Science to improve not displace traditional farming Low energy, capital costs Agroecology:  Agroecology Intercropping Mixing annual and perennial crops Crop rotations Rotate cereals and legumes Mixing of plant and animal production Rice paddies with edible weeds, fish and rice Not continuous production of one crop Africa:  Africa Fragile soils must be protected Could mix millet, cattle, and Acacia trees Trees fix nitrogen, have deep tap roots Cattle eat tree pods Plant millet after leaves fall Could support 2x population in Senegal Aid agencies instead promoting new seeds, fertilizers, agrochemicals, biotechnology, free trade Slide40:  Swaminathan led Green Revolution in India Agrees cannot maintain crop yields Problems: Excessive use of pesticides Groundwater depletion Pollution Monoculture Therefore, India needs sustainable agriculture “Evergreen Revolution “ M.S. Swaminathan World Food Prize 1987 Evergreen Revolution Vandana Shiva:  Vandana Shiva "Ecological problems arise from applying the engineering paradigm to life." Critic of the Green Revolution in India:  Critic of the Green Revolution in India “The Green Revolution has been a failure. It has led to reduced genetic diversity, increased vulnerability to pests, soil erosion, water shortages, reduced soil fertility, micronutrient deficiencies, soil contamination… Vandana Shiva Critic of the Green Revolution in India:  Critic of the Green Revolution in India “…reduced availability of nutritious food crops for the local population, the displacement of vast numbers of small farmers form their land, rural impoverishment and increased tensions and conflicts. … Vandana Shiva Critic of the Green Revolution in India:  Critic of the Green Revolution in India “…The beneficiaries have been the agrochemical industry, large petrochemical companies, manufacturers of agricultural machinery, dam builders and large landowners.” -- Vandana Shiva "The Violence of the Green Revolution: Ecological Degradation and Political Conflict in Punjab." The Ecologist, 1991, 21(2):57-60 Genetic Engineering: The Next Green Revolution ?:  Genetic Engineering: The Next Green Revolution ? Next Green Revolution?:  Next Green Revolution? Biotechnology will help developing countries accomplish things that they could never do with conventional plant breeding” “I believe genetically modified food crops will stop world hunger.” Norman Borlaug Nobel Peace Prize The Next Green Revolution?:  The Next Green Revolution? Biotechnology helps farmers produce higher yields on less land. Technology allows us to have less impact on soil erosion, biodiversity, wildlife, forests, and grasslands To achieve comparable yields (1950-1999) with old farming methods, would have needed an additional 1.8 Billion hectares of land Norman Borlaug Nobel Peace Prize Biotechnology Critic:  Biotechnology Critic Biotechnology development Same vision as chemical industry: Short term goals Enhanced yields, profit margins Nature should be dominated and exploited forced to yield more Prefer quick solutions to complex ecological problems Reductionist thinking about farming Instead of integrated systems Agricultural success means Short term profits Not long term sustainability -- Jane Rissler, Union of Concerned Scientists

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