Agroecology in Senegal and New Hope From Old Ideas.
This is the World Organic News for the week ending the 4th of February 2019.
Jon Moore reporting!
Decarbonise the air, recarbonise the soil!
We begin this week with some good news out of Senegal. From the site News Ghana comes the piece entitled: President Sall announces that Senegal will adopt agroecology.
The chairman of Enda Tiers-Monde’s international network, Marième Sow, is delighted. The call that civil society organizations have made since the 1970s has finally been heard. The appropriation of the principles of the agro-ecological transition had been their workhorse for decades. This emblematic figure of clean agriculture salutes the awareness of the authorities to move towards a model of agricultural production that does not degrade our forests or our soil, and that does not pollute our groundwater and surface water. Indeed, in his message to the nation of December 31, 2018, President Macky Sall announced a preparation of Senegal, Sahelian country, to the ecological transition through the “Pse Vert”.
Reading further into the article and I would encourage you all to check this source, link in the show notes, the underlying problems in Senegal sound very much like the underlying problems wherever industrial agriculture has come to town. Polluted water, polluted soils, falling fertility and deforestation. As in many places, the voices calling in the wild for a better system have their roots back in the 1970s.
Enda Tiers-Monde is one such organisation. There’s a link in the show notes. The site is is French and google translate seems to have some difficulty translating but if your french is up to the job have a look. Mine is a far from up to the job.
From the piece again:
In fact, agro-ecology borrows a lot from known agricultural techniques in Africa. That’s why, since the 70s, Enda Tiers-Monde campaigns for the popularization of agro-ecology. Experts believe that the sustainability of the agricultural production system depends to a large extent on this “alternative”. “The agro-ecological transition is to bring back to life the land, our forests, the microorganisms that are in the soil. On the basis of pesticide residues analysis in the soil, Enda Pronat has initiated farmers’ organizations to use other cultivation techniques, “says Sow, who praises the president’s vision of Republic to make the agro-ecological transition a strategic axis of the Pse. it’s about to bring back to life the land, our forests, the micro-organisms that are in the ground.
This return to older ways is a theme. In the same way that John Seymour’s Complete Book of Self Sufficiency was a look back to the high farming tradition of the British Isles, I suspect much of the techniques promoted by Enda Tiers-Monde are in the same mould but from an African standpoint.
The problem we face is that these older methods are a step back along the evolution of farming that led to the industrial system we are suffering under today. With the popularity of the “Green Revolution” of the 1960s, many of the best and brightest in the agricultural field drank the Kool Aid and went into developing this form of agriculture.
We have counterexamples.
Seymour, of course, but also Jeavons, Fukuoka and Mollison. Aside from their interest in organic techniques, the other thing they all have in common is facial hair but I digress. These individuals, the organisations they created and Enda Tiers-Monde have for many decades been preaching to the converted. It is only as the realities of both industrial agriculture and it carbon effects have become so obvious that the lobbying efforts of the corporations supporting industrial ag have faced real competition that the mainstream is starting to see another way.
I recall, I think, from the hour long film on Permaculture featuring Bill Mollison, “In Grave Danger of Falling Food”, Bill’s comment along the lines that stopping the destruction of old growth forests was important but more important was the rehabilitation of already damaged ecosystems. He was pleased to see so many, then, young people doing that work, unheralded, that he thought the future was in good hands.
We are at cross roads, probably we are beyond the cross roads and need to map our way back to the other paths we could have taken. The work of Enda Tiers-Monde in french speaking Africa, the outreach of the Fukuoka, Seymour, Jeavons and Mollison created organisations are making a difference.
An older model but one that has many adherents, especially, it seems, in the wine growing sector is biodynamics. This too is based upon keeping soil healthy and most other things will look after themselves. Episode 117 covered this system with Mark Rathbone from Save Our Soils explained how he uses this system to rehabilitate pasture by growing vegetables.
Now because of who the founder was, Rudolf Steiner there can be some, esoteric matters that do not always sit well with some people. Mark’s site and as he discussed during episode 117 is focused upon the rigorously tested, evidence based techniques. So do not be put off by the esoteric. After all much of Isaac Newton’s life was spent in alchemy trying to find the philosopher’s stone. What we find useful nowadays is his work on gravity and calculus. Take what works and leave the rest seems like a plan.
For a final word I’ll go back to the original post.
“The success of the ecological transition depends on managing the management of our land assets. And, we must accept that this resource is used to satisfy both the agricultural needs and the restoration of vegetation cover. We must also control the governance of our water resources. We can not grant land to multinationals that are agro-business, using all kinds of chemical inputs and claiming to arrive at the agro-ecological transition.“
And on that note I’ll draw this episode to a conclusion.
Remember: Decarbonise the air, recarbonise the soil!
So with all the above in mind and the fact we live in the twenty first century, I’m opening up applications for a Regenerative Agriculture Mastermind group. It will be limited to twelve people, we’ll meet weekly, online to discuss our successes, challenges and decisions. The wisdom of the crowd applied to this necessary field of endeavour. You can have a look at the intro page and click through to the application at worldorganicnews.com/mastermind-application There’s also a link in the show notes.
Of course the podcasting checklists are still available over at mrjonmoore.com
Thank you for listening and I’ll be back next week.
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President Sall announces that Senegal will adopt agroecology