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Norman Borlaug - Nobel Prize Winner for Peace

Sunday, October 31, 2010

I have written about  Noel Vietmeyer's biography of Norman Baulog before.  The third and last volume of his life and work has been published.  This volume focusses mainly on the introduction of high yielding wheat  varieties to India and Pakistan and the Green Revolution.  He faced many of the problems that we face today in the introduction of new technologies.  It is difficult to believe that there was so much opposition to his wheat varieties (that could produce 8 times more yield) at a time  (1960's) when these countries were totally dependent on food imports to stave off famine.

Here is a quote from volume 3:

The most conservative man in traditional agriculture is the scientist, and sometimes I am not proud to be one them. This is most discouraging. The scientist is a privileged person, the man who should lead us out of the wilderness of static,  underproductive agriculture, and yet by his apathy and failure to  exercise his unique vision, he keeps us In the swamp of despair.  The scientist fears change because he is In a relatively  privileged position in his own soclety. If there Is no breakthrough  in yield, he will not be criticized. But If he makes a recommendation and something goes wrong, he may lose his job.  In many different countries there Is no faith or understanding between the farmer and the scientist. Almost without exception  the farmer says, "This man is a theorist. He is not a doer, and he  can't help us." In the past; this complaint was all too often valid, but today (1968) the situation is rapidly changing."

At that time his views on government and foreign aid agencies were not much better - bureaucratic blockages, lack of understanding of the real problems, and failure to accept realistic goals.

Many of these problems we still have to face today. Many of the technologies that we are trying to introduce, including the Vetiver System may be just as important for the health of our planet and the people who live on it, but they do not show the immediate impact that an eight fold yield increase does.  Thus it is much more difficult to make the change.  The good news is that it can be done if we remain committed and focussed

These three volumes are available at $10 each from Bracing Books  Note volume 3 is not listed yet, but can be bought via email contact with the publisher.  I strongly recommend the purchase.

Dick Grimshaw


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