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Agriculture

The Green Revolution generally describes the mass introduction of  high-yielding seed varieties, alongside the increased use of fertilizers,   irrigation systems, double cropping and the expansion of farm areas. In countries such as India and China, the revolution (which grew in the 60’s) was hailed as a triumph, pushing dangerously food insecure nations into relatively food abundant lands. However the Green Revolution is marred with the kind of short-sightedness that we have seen many times before (for instance the misinformed diversion of the Aral Sea). Vandhana Shiva provides a clear critique of the Green Revolution.

Cassava, a root vegetable that grows well in tropical regions, has been an important crop for millions of marginal farmers. The crops resilience to drought and it’s ability to grow under poor conditions enables these farmers a system of insurance if their other crops fail along with the rains.  Therefore it has been described by the FAO as a crisis crop. Unfortunately the crop is not high in nutritional value, and if prepared incorrectly could be toxic.

The Gates foundation saw the reach and resilience of the crop as an opportunity and has been working on creating an enhanced cassava crop named BioCassava Plus. This crop is not only fortified against disease but also packed with beta carotene, iron, and protein thereby being a potentially important ‘tool’ to fight malnutrition. The importance of cassava has not gone unnoticed, with many actors (such as the World Bank) raising its standing by developing and promoting new technologies for cassava production and utilization.