Thursday, 27 September 2012

KNOTS blogger

KNOTS blogger

Vive la révolution?

Posted: 27 Sep 2012 02:42 AM PDT

cattle market  Photo: Garissa cattle market from USAID's photostream on Flickr

Revolution is in the air. As the 3-day African Green Revolution Forum kicks off officially today in Arusha, the talk is of scaling up investment and innovation, focusing on small and medium-sized agribusinesses. Agriculture in Africa, neglected in recent years, is now seen as a sector with enormous potential to feed local populations and grow economies. The language of revolution is about historic change around big ideas. It suggests a radical, visible change for the better. Who benefits, and at what cost, will be crucial in determining its success.

But the African Green Revolution isn't the only one around. The so-called Livestock Revolution has also emerged, in the last 10 years, as a powerful idea to provoke change. Like all revolutions, it is full of opportunities and threats, winners and losers. The STEPS Centre's project on the poultry sector in Ghana will look at different parts of the sector, tracing how they interact and change over time.

We're interested not only in what happens as a result, but where the changes come from. In a blog on the Future Agricultures website, Jim Sumberg looks at the question of whether this Livestock Revolution is driven by 'supply' or 'demand', compared with the Green Revolution of the last century. Talking about revolution may be a great way to galvanise action and bring people together – but in reality, many different visions and needs are at stake. As time marches on, recognising this diversity will be crucial.

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Supply or demand: what ‘drives’ modern agricultural revolutions?

Posted: 26 Sep 2012 08:27 AM PDT


In 1999 Delgado et al. published the report Livestock to 2020: The Next Food Revolution. They argued that there would be a quantum jump in demand for livestock products in parts of the developing world, and a shift in the location of livestock production, tied to human population growth, rising incomes, continuing urbanisation and changing food preferences. The notion of the Livestock Revolution – with its promise of diet diversity, better nutrition and health, and also opportunities for small-scale producers – is one of the most powerful ideas to emerge in the areas of food, nutrition and agricultural development over the last decade.

Delgado and his co-authors suggested that the Livestock Revolution is fundamentally different from the earlier Green Revolution because it is 'demand driven' while the Green Revolution was 'supply driven' (p.1, 59). The language of 'demand-driven production systems' looms large in the story of the Livestock Revolution, and is depicted as part-and-parcel of what Delgado et al. suggest is an important shift, with livestock production moving from a 'local multipurpose activity to a global food activity' (p.60).