Thursday, February 26, 2009

There can be enough

The Oakland Institute continues to be a great source of information on global food system issues. Recently they published this paper on ecological agriculture:

It's a kind of meta-study, summarizing information that supports the conclusion that yields from ecological agriculture are adequate to feed the world's population. In fact, there is lots of evidence that organic agriculture improves yields considerably in the developing world, as much as 80%.

The increased yields are greatest for rain fed crops.

The next time some suggests to you that bio-tech interventions are necessary to feed the world, send them this paper to read.

Meanwhile, I am puzzling over why the aggregate data for organic agriculture in the developed world show a slight decline in yields over "conventional". Is this in the transitional stage from industrial ag with fossil fuel inputs to organic? Is it because of the scale of agriculture in the developed world? (Though surely not every rich country has the large scale agriculture of the Central Valley or Iowa!) Is it because of irrigation? Is it because we are unwilling to put the labor into ecological agriculture on a large scale?

One wonders if the anyone will care enough to write a paper exploring this sharp contrast between developing and developed countries' agriculture. It's be an interesting report to read.

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