The circles of life (5) Today's innovations tomorrow's traditions
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CTA. 1999. The circles of life (5) Today's innovations tomorrow's traditions. Spore 2000 (Supplement to Spore 84). CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/46629
The circles of life (5) Today's innovations tomorrow's traditionsDo not despair. Necessity is the mother of invention. We just have to open our minds to the possibilities we have to create. Tucked away in a report of the 1996 World Food Summit is a...
Do not despair. Necessity is the mother of invention. We just have to open our minds to the possibilities we have to create. Tucked away in a report of the 1996 World Food Summit is a prediction about the need to increase food from plant-derived sources for the populations that are expected by the year 2050 in various countries. For countries whose populations consume mainly maize, which includes several ACP countries in the Caribbean and in southern and eastern Africa, food production should double to meet their energy requirements, after taking into account changes in diet and access to other foods. In countries heavily dependent on millet and sorghum, principally in the Sahel, production needs to rise by 480%. And the 21 countries that consume mainly cassava and other roots and tubers (all ACP countries in west, central, and southern Africa as well as Madagascar, and Haiti) are faced with the challenge of increasing production by 717%. On the face of it, that may be seen as an impossible task. Similar, though perhaps less extreme, tasks face the agricultural community of virtually all ACP countries, including taro (cassava) consuming Pacific states. But, as with all problems or challenges that appear insurmountable, the task can be broken down into more manageable pieces. All we have to do is to take our existing knowledge and measure the size of the problem (that we seem quite capable of doing by now); develop new varieties of plants which use water more efficiently, are less demanding in soil nitrogen, replenish the soil and provide more output, and in parallel devise and adapt new farming systems to make best use of different agricultural zones and crops; create new ways of protecting and conserving, even restoring, precious resources, notably land and water; devise ways of storing, processing and transporting agricultural production to reduce post-harvest losses and minimise the use of energy; create new forms of ownership and access to finance, land, water, basic services (health and education) and training so that those who stay on the land to farm can do so with reward and satisfaction; get used to the idea that ideas must change, that even traditions are subject to change, and that we need to create new traditions in production, consumption, diet, and lifestyle that complement existing traditions; accept that we are approaching the beyond-indigenous age, where not everything that is indigenous is sacred, where not everything that is foreign or distant is unwelcome. It is not beyond us to accept and even work for these changes. Farmers, researchers, policymakers, traders, consumers, bankers we know that we have the resources and the ability to do so.