Thursday, October 17, 2013

Mahindi Bora Kufuta Njaa Tanzania

ENGARUKA, Tanzania — When the bell rang at midday, students fetched tin bowls and lined up under trees in the schoolyard for scoops of corn and bean porridge.

Not one of them displayed the food fussiness often seen in American school lunch lines.

In a remote, dirt-poor town in southern Mexico, basketball helps bring kids “out of the shadows.”
After the rainy seasons shortchanged this Maasai village in northern Tanzania, children here suffered too many days when there was no porridge — no food at all to eat in their mud and stick huts. Drought is to blame for a good share of their suffering.

Scientists are developing drought-tolerant corn, something that could ease hunger across Tanzania and sub-Saharan Africa. But because it is genetically modified, the corn cannot be planted here. Opponents of genetically modified crops have made a stand in Africa, and now villages such as Engaruka are squarely in the middle of a global ideological war over agricultural technology.

Since U.S. farmers first adopted GM crops in 1996, 17 million farmers in 29 countries have followed suit. Europe has rejected the crops, though, arguing that farmers would be exploited by large seed companies and that more research is needed into possible risks to the environment and food safety. And European activists have pressured Africa to do the same. Just four African countries — Sudan, Egypt, Burkina Faso and South Africa — have allowed them.

No one denies Africa’s hunger. World crop production has more than doubled in 50 years, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization. But Africa has lagged behind, achieving some gains while losing ground in places such as Engaruka where drought, plant diseases and other problems have knocked down yields and depleted the available food. Now that problem takes on new urgency with U.N. projections that Africa’s population will quadruple by the end of this century.

Still, the question of which approach is best for Africa remains hotly disputed. It tears at Tanzania, where 80 percent of the people live by subsistence agriculture.


No comments: