Wetenschap - 1 januari 1970

Rabbinge: organic agriculture is an immoral option for Africa

Rabbinge: organic agriculture is an immoral option for Africa

‘Fertilizer and technology can help Africa out of the mess it’s in’

It’s almost a year since Professor Rudy Rabbinge was asked by UN director
general Kofi Annan to develop a plan outlining how science and technology
can best be used to ensure a substantial increase in agricultural
production in Africa. The plan is ready, and not only that: extensive
lobbying with African politicians and donors has resulted in pledges of
hundreds of millions of dollars, and even more importantly, the stated
willingness of African politician to implement the plan.

Rabbinge gave a lecture on his plan, the final one in the lecture series
organised by Studium Generale on Africa. In the first lecture Roel van der
Veen from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs painted a dark picture of
the deplorable situation in Africa. He ascribed the decline of states
largely to the system of patronage, in which government elites do not win
popular support through democratic processes but in exchange for favours to
friends and ethnic relations, arguing that this often leads to internal
conflicts. Rabbinge conceded that patronage or unclear property rights may
hamper development in Africa, but that is not where the cause of poverty
lies, he argued. As far as Rabbinge is concerned the problem lies in the
lack of support that African governments give to agriculture. In Asia
governments did choose to invest in agriculture, especially China. That is
why the green revolution was successful in the 1980s in Asia, according to
Rabbinge, and became the motor of economic development. “There can be no
development without growth in agricultural production.