With 1B Hungry Globally, World Bank, USAID, and the Gates Foundation Need a New Approach
In talking about addressing food security in sub-Saharan Africa, the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Gates Foundation — what I would call the “international development establishment” — often focus on the need to increase crop production in Africa. Their outlook is based on the 1960s Green Revolution, which in the 1960s averted famine in India and Latin America through the deployment of high-yielding crop varieties, fertilizers, and pesticides.
Yet while the Green Revolution’s proponents emphasize the yield improvements due to crop technologies, they neglect the social ramifications associated with highly capital- and input-intensive agriculture: land consolidation and landless laborers. Such a reductionist approach assumes that high yields will ensure access to food, regardless of who controls production and who is displaced by agriculture’s capital intensity. But this model warrants re-evaluation in light of the fact that nearly one billion people are hungry today.