The increasingly urbanized youth are often reluctant to help with digging and hoeing ... "The consequence: A lot of land – particularly rice fields – is not exploited. This has increased the suffering of some families who have a hard time feeding themselves during certain periods of the year."In the area of Kenya I live in, very little land is not exploited. For generations, people have had large families, and divided the land up among their sons. This has reduced the average plot size to below five acres. At this point, traditional farming methods do not yield enough to feed a family.
The poverty of African peasants is not accidental: it is intrinsic to the peasant mode of economic organization. The very features that make the peasant mode of production appear attractive to jaded members of an industrialized society also make it unproductive. Large scale organization of specialized production, and integration into markets, are fundamental to the generation of income at a level that we now regard as necessary for a decent quality of life. We have been blinded to this evident fact by our own romantic attachment to the preservation of a society which is the antithesis of the modern.I don't disagree with any of it. But the structural changes he's talking about require a really farsighted agricultural and industrial policy, which is not on the horizon. They also, in order to produce better lives in the near term, rather than in the glorious future, require a careful migration path. For most farmers, land is their only real asset. How will they be recompensed, resettled, reintegrated? These questions aren't even being asked yet. So I think there is a place for efforts to improve farmers' incomes right now, before any grand plans take shape.
Unpredictable weather has always presented serious problems for smallholder farmers and fishing communities in poor countries, but farming is becoming even more difficult and risky because of the greater unpredictability in seasonal rainfall patterns. Heat stress, lack of water at crucial times and pests and diseases are serious problems that climate change appears to be exacerbating. These all interact with ongoing pressures on land, soils and water resources that would exist regardless of climate change. The most common observation is that the changes are "shortening" the growing season.We've seen these effects first-hand. The season of long rains has started 2-3 weeks late for the past couple of years, and rain during this crucial growing season has been more unpredictable.
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