Thursday, April 28, 2016

The famine that never was

Wikipedia on the Green Revolution.

includes a section on why some oppose it (it feeds people and encourages huge factory farms in areas that had only recently had socialist revolutions that had land reform, so the poor peasants could each have their own plots_)

Actually it is more complicated than that.

We had land reform here in the Philippines, and are allowed by law to own a limited amount of land per person.

And most of our ancestral lands were given to the families who grew on the plots for generations.... but after a generation, a lot of these farmers want to sell their plots back to us.

You see, the "wealth" of keeping their full harvest  allowed them to educate their kids, so the kids became OFW or went to Manila. So why do all that hard work and live in poverty when you can have a easier job elsewhere?

Another factor is not just more modern crops etc. but mechanizing small plots. Again, this is hard for farmers with small plots. We no longer have a lot of land, but we subcontract local farmers to grow for us.

The handplow instead of the water buffalo is now widespread (don't mourn the waterbuffalo...there is a growing industry for using them instead of cows for milk products), and we use a thresher instead of beating the seed off the rice.

Most local farmers can afford the handplow, and will rent/borrow our thresher at harvest time.

In recent years, we also bought a rice drier. Traditionally, rice here in the Philippines is spread on a road or on a tarp and the sun dries it. You have to watch driving when you travel in rural areas

But then we we had a typhoon at harvest time, we thought we were okay since most of our rice had just been cut...alas, we couldn't dry it, and had to wait in line for it to be dried at the local rice mill... as a result much of the rice was deteriorated and had to be sold as animal feed instead of gourmet organic rice.

Many local farmers had the harvest destroyed, however. So again the kids migrate to get work.

Ironically, many of the farmers who now plant the fields we still own are from Joy's home island in the Visayas, where life is poorer. (an island that I once saw touted on a green ecotourism video that showed the  happy natives who were happy in their traditional lifestyle. Uh, I don't think so... notice the NPA (communist rebels) around? And did you ask them how do you keep the kids down on the farm after they've seen Paree Manila, i.e. all that easy life with stuff on TV?

Well, anyway, the latest is the harvester/thresher, which means no back breaking cutting of the rice by hand. Problem is mud.
So on certain fields we still cut by hand and pull our older small thresher into the fields with a water buffalo, since the Jeep thresher would get stuck.

Ironically, the gov't here is pushing organic (see Wikipedia part on the Philippines).

But after getting whacked by the typhoon, having our chicken farm destroyed (meaning no 'free" chicken manure for fertilizer), the bugs that drifted in from neighboring fields, and a lot of weeds thanks to the typhoon damage, my step son is now planting some fields with non organic fertilizer and pesticides. His wife still supervises the the pure organic grown rice etc.

I have no problem with this: diversity is good.

If I criticize the "Green" types, it is because a lot of them are fundamentalists who hate those nasty corporations who get rich by keeping starvation at bay.

But organic is a big thing here, partly because the SJW in the Catholic church are "Green" and pressure the gov't.

Luckily, the businesses are run by Chinoys and Protestants and Catholics who love making money.

Get more of them, and we will continue to pull the country out of poverty.

The Philippines is now a lot richer than when I first visited here, and the growing middle class will pay extra for organic.

But if you want to feed the 10 million people of Manila, it means encouraging the green revolution here, or else having enough manufacturing base to pay for importing rice from VietNam etc.

Related links: Remembering Norman Bourlaug

the man who saved a billion lives.

Now if they only could get it to Africa: Lack of infrastructure and corruption are a big reason why they still have poverty there.

But note the part about green SJW preventing the green revolution in Africa in the article.

To return to our original question: Why isn't Borlaug better known and why is his work so endangered? For one, he has chosen to work outside the media spotlight, engaged in the rather unglamorous enterprise of improving crop yields in parts of the world that receive little attention in the Western media, except to report sensational disasters or scandals.
But, an even more significant and disturbing reason is identified by Gregg Easterbrook, when he writes: "Borlaug's mission -- to cause the environment to produce significantly more food -- has come to be seen, at least by some securely affluent commentators, as perhaps better left undone. More food sustains human population growth, which they see as antithetical to the natural world."
According to David Seckler, the director of the International Irrigation Management Institute, "The environmental community in the 1980s went crazy pressuring the donor countries and the big foundations not to support ideas like inorganic fertilizers for Africa." As a result, high-profile yet 'image-sensitive' organizations such as The Ford and Rockefeller Foundations and the World Bank, once sponsors of Borlaug's work, have begun disassociating themselves from it.
Support for the International Maize and Wheat Center -- where Borlaug helped to develop the high-yield, low-pesticide dwarf wheat upon which a substantial portion of the world's population now depends for sustenance -- has also dwindled. The net result, according to Easterbrook, is that "although Borlaug's achievements are arguably the greatest that Ford or Rockefeller has ever funded, both foundations have retreated from the last effort of Borlaug's long life: the attempt to bring high-yield agriculture to Africa."

Yes, again a lot of green types are running church and secular NGOs.

It is sort of like the Pope or like those in the US who think Chomsky knows what he is talking about: not because their criticisms are wrong, but because they don't see that the alternative to what they criticize is worse.

Think Zimbabwe, which is again facing starvation after a poor harvest, when anyone who lived there 30 years ago knows that irrigation and fertilizer and proper seeds, planted by educated farmers, could make Zimbabwe another Kansas. But of course, the communist gov't kicked out the rich farmers in favor of "land reform", including a lot of land going to the friends of the corrupt president who knew nothing about running a large complicated farm, but hey, it looks good on paper that "locals" own everything now. As for starvation: Well they oppose food donations if there might be GM food in the donation (again green propaganda wins over starving kids), so what keeps the country afloat is that a lot of their kids now work in South Africa or Europe.

So Yes, Mr. Francis:  yes there is poverty in the world. And there is a big gap between poor and rich people. But I don't think socialism is the way to go, unless of course you convince those running "socialist" governments to get rid of corruption. You know: preaching Thou Shalt not Steal and pushing fire and brimstone instead of "mercy"? Nah, Never mind.
"who am I to judge" makes you popular, and condemning sin only would get you crucified, like that asty Jewish carpenter who not only told the sex worker to stop sinning but threw out the crooked vendors who everyone outside of modern theology schools know were giving kickbacks to the temple priests so they could overcharge their customers.

But the dirty little secret is that the poor are not worse off than they were in 1950. And if there are a lot of "poor people", maybe it is because they didn't starve to death as they did in the past. But as a percentage of the population, there are a lot fewer of them now thanks to capitalism.


In response to the sustained campaign against his work, Borlaug has said:

 Some of the environmental lobbyists of the Western nations are the salt of the earth, but many of them are elitists. They've never experienced the physical sensation of hunger. They do their lobbying from comfortable office suites in Washington or Brussels. If they lived just one month amid the misery of the developing world, as I have for fifty years, they'd be crying out for tractors and fertilizer and irrigation canals and be outraged that fashionable elitists back home were trying to deny them these things

which, of course, is why China not only has a lot of pollution, but has a lot fewer people in poverty. And if Africa is lucky, they, not the benevolent west, will be the ones to bring south Saharan Africa into the modern world.

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