Miracle Crop: India’s Quest to End World Hunger – part 1

Published on Spiegel Online International, by Philip Bethge, June 16, 2014 (Photo Gallery).

Over one third of humanity is undernourished. Now a group of scientists are experimenting with specially-bred crops, and hoping to launch a new Green Revolution — but controversy is brewing.

It may not make his family wealthy, but Devran Mankar is still grateful for the pearl millet variety called Dhanshakti (meaning “prosperity and strength”) he has recently begun growing in his small field in the state of Maharashtra, in western India. ”Since eating this pearl millet, the children are rarely ill,” raves Mankar, a slim man with a gray beard, worn clothing and gold-rimmed glasses … //

… Global Problem:

Today some 870 million people worldwide still lack enough food to eat, and almost a third of humanity suffers from an affliction known as hidden famine, a deficiency in vitamins and trace elements like zinc, iron and iodine. The consequences are especially dramatic for mothers and children: Women with iron deficiencies are more likely to die in childbirth, and they have a higher rate of premature births and menstruation problems. Malnourished children can go blind or suffer from growth disorders. Throughout their lives, they are more susceptible to infection and suffer from learning disorders, because their brains have not developed properly.

“These children are deprived of their future from birth,” says Indian agronomist Monkombu Swaminathan, who has campaigned for the “fundamental human right” of satiety for more than 60 years. To solve the problem of hunger once and for all, Swaminathan and other nutrition experts are calling for a dramatic shift in our approach to agriculture. They argue that instead of industrial-scale, high-tech agriculture, farming should become closer to nature — and involve intelligent plant breeding and a return to old varieties.

The world has enough to eat. The only problem is that the poor, whose diet consists primarily of grain, are eating the wrong food. Corn, wheat and rice – the grain varieties that dominate factory farming — are bred primarily for yield and not for their nutritional content. They cannot adequately feed the poorest of the poor — nutrients and trace elements are at least as important as calories.

Food safety is tied to variety, says Swaminathan, who calls for a sustainable “evergreen” revolution. He advocates the development of new, more nutritional grain varieties better adapted to climatic conditions. “We must re-marry agriculture and nutrition — the two have been too far away from each other for a long time,” says the scientist.

The First Revolution: … //

… Springtime in Maharashtra: … //

… The Millet Solution:

This is where biofortified pearl millet comes into play. Farmers in the region have always grown pearl millet. So why not simply replace the traditional variety with Dhanshakti? “Then people will get their minerals from the bread they eat every day, anyway,” says Potnis.

Ramu Dahine’s five-person family, in the nearby village of Vadgaon Kashimbe, is a case in point. Daughter-in-law Meena is baking bhakri, a traditional round, unleavened flatbread made from pearl-millet flour. Dressed in a red sari, she crouches on the floor in front of a small stone building with a corrugated metal roof. She combines pearl-millet flour and water, kneads the dough, places the flatbread into a pan and blows through a long tube onto the coals of a small wood fire until flames begin to flicker.
The Dahines eat the bread, and hardly anything else, twice a day. The seed dealer recommended the pearl millet, says the farmer. He doesn’t even know that the grain has a high iron content, but he did notice that his family was healthier than usual by the end of the last rainy season. The variety also has another benefit: Because it isn’t a hybrid, Dahine can use a portion of his harvest as seed for the next season.

“For the real poor, this pearl millet is a great hope,” says Karandikar. Swiss scientists have shown that the consumption of Dhanshakti millet significantly increased iron levels in the blood of local women. And Indian researchers showed that a daily serving of only 100 grams of the pearl millet could completely satisfy the iron requirements of children.
(full text).

Part 2: can a new revolution take root?

(my comment: first we have to change the economic structure (trade, investment as a dept, money and it’s interest, the whole banking system), introduce worldwide the basic income for EVERY ONE, with NO EXEPTION, together with price control … only then poors have a chance to BUY good crops, but also vegetables, fruits, proteines. Only then hunger may sustainably disappear).

some Hunger Links:

11 Facts About Global Hunger, on DoSomething.org;

Know Your World: Facts About Hunger and Poverty, on The Hunger Project, in 4 languages;

Hunger Statistics; on World Foof Programme WFP.org;

Feed the Children.org;

Interview mit Aktivist Jean Ziegler: Ich bin so radikal, weil ich die Opfer kenne, im Tagesspiegel, von Harald Schumann, Norbert Thomma, 7. Januar 2013: Alle fünf Sekunden stirbt ein Kind an Hunger – das lässt Jean Ziegler nicht ruhen. Er nennt Banken und Konzerne „Massenmörder“. Und hofft auf die Revolte von unten …;
Jean Ziegler on en.wikipedia and it’s External Links;

Other Links:

France – SNCF:

WORKERS EXODUS: 180000 Cambodians flee Thailand, on Malaysia Chronicle, June 18, 2014;

On The Run From ISIS, Syrian Kurds Wonder If They’ve Left One War For Another, on Huffington Post, by Sophia Jones, June 15, 2014;
Map: Syria Regional Refugee Response.

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