Thursday, May 3, 2012

Keep your ear to the ground!

Photo: Richard Mulonga
Susan Mkandawire in Kasisi, Zambia prepares food for her family of seven. Today’s lunch is Nsima. She uses own maize, a bit of cooking oil from the shop, pumkin leaves from her own farm and salt. This is the typical lunch and dinner most days. Breakfast: maize porridge.
This is the first job in the project
Keep your ear to the ground!

Which is the title of a book being written by journalist Ann Helen Meyer von Bremenand agriculture consultant and writer Gunnar Rundgren. It is commissioned by the largest environmental NGO in Sweden, the Swedish Society ofNature Conservation ( and will be their yearbook for 2013. 
Breakfast for some of the Mkandawire kids, Photo: Richard Mulonga
The main theme of the book is if it is possible to provide food for a growing population in a sustainable way. The book will look at agriculture development in a global and historical perspective to inform the reader of the forces that shape agriculture – and relate it to our diets and the landscape.  It will describe main challenges for agriculture such as water, erosion, nutrient supply and oversupply, biodiversity and competition between food production with other land-uses, such as bio-energy, conservation and built infrastructure. 
81 year old Godfrey Boma shows me his organic plots. Photo: Richard Mulongo

How agriculture is shaped by forces of technology, markets, policy and demography will be described. Special features will show this in the practice based on visits to countries such as Brazil, the US, India, the Netherlands and Sweden. Not only problems will be highlighted; from each country examples showing a path for a truly sustainable agriculture will be showcased.  

The book will discuss some of the prevalent perceptions or myths about farming and diets such as the need for GMOs and chemical fertilizers, the effect of increasing meat consumption, the effect of the farm frontier expansion. It will also present one or more scenarios for a truly sustainable agriculture.

The work with the book will be done in the period April to November 2012, with the research phase in April to August 2012. It will be published, in Swedish, in December 2012. 

Susan does the heavy hoeing, preparing the land. Fred, the husband cuts the grass with a panga. Photo: Gunnar

1 comment: