Thursday, 27 September 2012

Vive la révolution?

cattle market  Photo: Garissa cattle market from USAID's photostream on Flickr

Revolution is in the air. As the 3-day African Green Revolution Forum kicks off officially today in Arusha, the talk is of scaling up investment and innovation, focusing on small and medium-sized agribusinesses. Agriculture in Africa, neglected in recent years, is now seen as a sector with enormous potential to feed local populations and grow economies. The language of revolution is about historic change around big ideas. It suggests a radical, visible change for the better. Who benefits, and at what cost, will be crucial in determining its success.

But the African Green Revolution isn’t the only one around. The so-called Livestock Revolution has also emerged, in the last 10 years, as a powerful idea to provoke change. Like all revolutions, it is full of opportunities and threats, winners and losers. The STEPS Centre’s project on the poultry sector in Ghana will look at different parts of the sector, tracing how they interact and change over time.

We’re interested not only in what happens as a result, but where the changes come from. In a blog on the Future Agricultures website, Jim Sumberg looks at the question of whether this Livestock Revolution is driven by ‘supply’ or ‘demand’, compared with the Green Revolution of the last century. Talking about revolution may be a great way to galvanise action and bring people together – but in reality, many different visions and needs are at stake. As time marches on, recognising this diversity will be crucial.

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