Friday, October 31, 2008

A brief for agricultural change

I've been carrying around a paper by Lim Li Ching posted on the Oakland Institute web site, "Sustainable Agriculture: Meeting Food Security Needs, Addressing Climate Change Challenges" which advocates for a transition to sustainability to deal with both.

The paper includes startling statistics on increasing food prices, a critique of the Green Revolution, a summary of research about the gains to be had from using sustainable agricultural methods, and some ideas about how to get there.

The most striking thing to me was the evidence for high gains in both crop yields and farm income in the developing world when switching to sustainable practices. Just a little gain in developed countries, compared with 50-100% gains in the 2/3 world.

The paper also led me to conclude that if we wish to decrease the degradation of our agricultural lands and lower other environmental impacts of industrial agriculture in this country we would shift our subsidy system to 1) reward farmers for carbon sequestration, and 2) help support them during the several years of transition back to diversified, sustainable farming.

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