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Africa Demonstrates that Helga Zepp-LaRouche Is Right: `Green Revolution' Methods Can Double Rice Production

PARIS, Sept. 8, 2009 (EIRNS)—A press release of the Cotonou (Benin)-based Africa Rice Center reports that, following the shock increase in food prices, which sparked food riots in several African cities early last year, several member countries of the Africa Rice Center adopted key measures which resulted into an 18% increase in rice production in 2008 in Africa as compared to 2007.

Helga Zepp-LaRouche's call to double world food production was a key intervention at that time to catalyze energies to provoke the opting out of globalization and return to the philosophy of the dirigistic farming methods of FDR's agriculture secretary Henry Wallace, and what became later known as the "Green Revolution" in Mexico, India and elsewhere.

Most notable of today's achievement is a 241% increase in Burkina Faso's rice production in 2008 compared to 2007 levels. Burkina Faso was one of the countries rocked by food riots. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) attributes this turnaround in Burkina Faso's rice fortunes to government support to farmers that ensured access to high quality certified rice seed, including rice varieties developed by the Africa Rice Center, and to other basic farm inputs.

Senegal, the world's eighth-largest rice importer, also increased its rice production by 90% in 2008 through a presidential initiative that put in place a distribution system which ensured that rice farmers could easily and readily access subsidized farm inputs such as certified seeds and fertilizers. Other African rice-producing countries that have recorded double-digit increases in national rice production in just one year are Mali, Benin, Nigeria, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea and Uganda.

A Paris-based, well-informed high-level source commented this morning that those figures might be slightly exaggerated since prices normally would drop after such increases. However, he confirmed the reality of the substance: production is huge. African governments really woke up and did a great job, he said. They went to every farmer and told him that he was important. Even if the IMF and the World Bank didn't like it, governments spent the money from their own funds including going into deficits. Subsidizing agriculture is still considered a crime by Washington today, he said. The charities of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Soros (which the source considers as useful in terms of hand-outs for paying some research) have nothing to do with this miracle.

The Africa Rice Center also says it conducted a simulation showing Africa could in principle become a net rice exporter, providing more than 5 million tons of rice to the international market by increasing the current area under rice cultivation by 15% and by using improved technologies to close the yield gap. The Center is also urging governments to better manage and exploit natural water resources to increase the productivity of rice. According to FAO, Africa uses only four percent of its renewable water resources. Irrigation would increase rice yields three or four times more than what is currently being achieved by relying on rainfall alone. Development of roads and storage facilities would further reduce post-harvest losses, which eat into 40 to 60 percent of the rice produced. Targeted input subsidies to defray the costs of new and improved technologies are also necessary for ensuring the continent achieves its rice production potential. Africa's current rice yields are less than one third of what could be produced, if technologies and innovations were properly applied.

The Africa Rice Center is an intergovernmental association of 23 rice-producing African countries, which facilitates more effective policy dialogue in the continent through its Council of Ministers. It is also one of the 15 international agricultural research Centers supported by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). More information on the Rice Center is available at http://www.warda.org/.

Also see an EIR interview with Dr. Robert S. Zeigler, Director-General of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI, Philippines), a sister agency to the Africa Rice Center, in the CGIAR, in EIR March 2, 2007, on the vast potential to increase rice production.