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CTDL 176: Africa, Agriculture, and Oboes

Three Africa stories from the BBC today.
First off we’ve got two different pieces on “green”ifying Africa (and African agriculture specifically). As much as we’d like to think shipping food to Africa is the solution, it’s at best a stop gap measure. What (I think) they really need is an agricultural (and medical) infrastructure that will allow them to use their natural resources (without using them up).

To the untrained eye, the never-ending green of the maize, rice and sugar cane fields of northern Tanzania look lush and bountiful.
It is rice harvest time, and under the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro the roads are jammed with tractors and bicycles stacked with bags of rice destined for market.

Perhaps the perfect setting for Africa’s “green revolution”, a concept being pushed by former United Nations head Kofi Annan and his successor Ban Ki-Moon, for the continent to better feed itself.
But these small-scale farmers around the city of Arusha are beset by problems.
“I have three acres of paddy and this year I harvested 25 bags from each acre,” says Lucas Chacha, a rice farmer from the village of Magugu.
“I sold each back for 35,000 Tanzanian shillings ($30; £15). Compared to the running costs it is not a fair price.
“I had to sell because I had some family problems and I needed the money.

[From BBC NEWS | Africa | Can Tanzania reap bumper harvests?]

“A genuinely African green revolution could lead to a doubling or tripling of food production,” he told the BBC.
Africa needs direct, immediate help for farmers to stop food imports including new seeds and fertilisers, he said.
But political analyst and South African beef farmer Moeletsi Mbeki said the heart of the crisis was property rights – as most farmers do not own land.
“The farmers in Africa have no secure property rights – their land doesn’t belong to them it can be taken away from them just about any time,” Mr Mbeki, brother of South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki, told the BBC.

[From BBC NEWS | Africa | Africa needs 'green revolution']

The last piece is on the need for conservation of the mpingo tree in Tanzania. Obviously less vital than food and water, but it would be a pity if future generations never heard the instruments that are made from these trees.

The wood from Tanzania’s “mpingo” tree is used to make flutes, clarinets, oboes and even bagpipes, making it one of the most valuable plants in the world.

But illegal logging has threatened its very existence and numbers are in severe decline.

[From BBC NEWS | Africa | Tanzania tree strikes right note]


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