Category Archives: agroforestry

Rising Temperatures Mean Falling Plant Productivity Overall (via NASA TV)

This means we need more veganism. We need more blacks on bikes. We need to set examples of sustainability, wise land stewardship practices based on both traditional and scientific knowledge, and more cooperation with our planet instead of the prevailing attitude of dominion. Lest we forget, and I cited NASA here being a space nerd and science lover, but this is our only planet.

More veganism? Because if crop productivity is going to continue to drop with climate change – especially in Africa – then one of the biggest greenhouse gas emitters (responsible for 20-50% of greenhouse gasses by various enumerations and estimates), the meat industry, must be dismantled and collapsed by our consumer and advocacy power. Not only that, but we must really begin to beat into our collective skull that it makes no sense to have animals chew the land bare and then eat them, when we will feed ourselves so much better and more efficiently if we cultivate and chew of the land ourselves directly.

More blacks on bikes? Why not? Need to usurp and practice transportation modalities and other lifestyle choices that are of lowest impact, are healthiest, are closest to human scale, and are future proof for a hot planet. Talking about colored people composting. Talking about growing gardens instead of lawns. Talking about collective urban farming. Talking about more folks on the street conversant on the idea of a carbon footprint for every consumer choice they make. Talking about rain-water harvesting in the hood (it’s getting drier too). Talking about no-impact brown and black women and men.

Talking about planting trees as a revolutionary act.

This is serious and time-sensitive. Given that whole species are going extinct over this right now, we have it easy, and we have an opportunity. Thanks, NASA.

Vandana Shiva vs. Gwynne Dyer on Democracy Now!

A Debate on Geoengineering: Vandana Shiva vs. Gwynne Dyer. Click to watch now. via Democracy Now! from July 8, 2010.

This is the Third World human-oriented liberation-minded eco-feminist versus the Western liberal dominion-of-technology man. They discuss the solutions of organic sustainable small-scale agriculture versus geo-engineering and pumping sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere and what not as near-term mitigation for climate change. The honorable lady Vandana Shiva has been one of my premier heroines for quite some time now, and I will highlight her books and activism at some time in the near future. For now, watch. Obviously I side with the woman – because the man here is banking on the endurance of capitalism and centralized top-down solutions, while I bank on the inevitable collapse of land privatization, large-scale industrial monocultural agribusiness, and capitalism itself under the weight of global crisis and the rise of the organized masses to reclaim the planet sustainably and with longevity in mind.

Check it out and discuss – lots of food for thought and discussion in this brief clip from today’s Democracy Now.

The “Lost Crops of Africa”

In my last blog post extolling durian, I asked where all the Afrikan varieties of “superfoods” were at. In exploring the raw vegan/ fruitarian world, one hears much about “superfoods“/ “superfruits” from the tropics, but they mostly seem to emerge from South America and tropical Asia. I hardly found varieties indigenous to or widely propagated in Afrika discussed in the common literature on “superfoods” by the raw vegan popularizers and commercializers of these plants. But in searching for more info on potential “superfoods” growing in Afrika right now, I have discovered a series of books available online: Lost Crops of Africa. You can read it online for free!

The above link is to Volume III: Fruits. Click here for Volume I: Grains and here for Volume II: Vegetables. These as well can be read online for free.

This encyclopedic series of books is answering many of my questions and is shaping how I want to practice agroforestry (and what I’m gonna chew on) in Afrika when I return. Some of these varieties I now want to look into for local availability (in the NYC region). There are Afrikan markets in Newark (Brick City) and the Bronx I’ll definitely want to peak into now to see if they have any of these curious and promising varieties (I’m most interested in what I’m finding in Volume III, followed by Volume II).

So I’m passing on the knowledge. Hope you find this as useful as I do. We need to plant more trees in Afrika – trees like the ones they’re talking about in Lost Crops of Africa. We gotta get extremely serious about land and return as Afrikans living outside the continent. There is absolutely TOO MUCH OPPORTUNITY in all spheres, too much we need to do to revive Afrika, and too little time in our brief-ass human lives.

Let’s study the trees, take a deep breath of the fresh air, pause for the cause in the soaring Sun, and get to work in the soil of our motherland, folks! Where the black botanists and agronomists at?

Tropical agroforestry rocks!
Towards a sustainable Afrikan agricultural revolution and massive reforestation!
Towards the further greening and fruiting of Afrika!
Uhuru!

Food Security and the Last Billion

atakpame-1983Yesterday, Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Administration, complained that this year, due to the global food crisis, an additional 40 million humans are joining the ranks of the chronically food insecure around the world, and the total for the seriously at-risk is now at least about 963 million. About 1 billion around the world are now at dire imminent risk of starvation and debilitating malnutrition. Needless to say, Afrikan countries, most run by anti-Afrikan, indeed anti-human kleptocrats and neo-colonialists, serve up some of the highest numbers. Likewise for India, China, and elsewhere in the third world.

Perhaps in the wake of the urgency with which Mr. Diouf testified to the UN’s food agency, now may be a time to muse about the implications of our individual eating habits on global ecology and food security. In what I’ve learned of agronomy, it seems vegetarianism is the most ecologically sustainable diet that human populations can pursue. Even in rural settings, runaway grazing eats up land and depletes its moisture carrying capacity far more quickly than even conventional mono-crop rearing. Eating fruits and using herbs from the forest – minimally invasive in practice – seems like the total opposite of grazing, factory farming, and other practices that have led to extreme deforestation and desertification, including the misguided steps being taken in Indonesia, Malaysia, and elsewhere to convert old-growth broad-leaf rainforest into vast groves of palm oil for bio-fuel export.

I think the Afrikan that moves away from meat is making a profound move. Not only is it in pursuit of the primal health colored folks will need to fight imperialism and neo-colonialism and establish a united Afrika serving and enriching the lives of Afrikans, but it is also an engagement with the carrying capacity of the Earth, and an acknowledgment of the delicate balance needed for the planet to replenish itself. It suggests we are willing to share and allow what the Earth can bountifully give to us, so long as we don’t take in excess and destroy the ecosystem in the process. It is well documented how much more water, land, food and fuel inputs are needed for even modest styles of animal husbandry to feed one individual, compared to inputs needed to feed one person through plant-based means only. At one extreme is factory farming and agribusiness that rapes the Earth without recourse to the least iota of moral restraint, and on the other, I think, the Afrikan moving towards serious raw veganism.

It is a move for the zealots, most will probably conclude. So be it. It tastes good and at least we know we are on Earth’s side, custodians of ecological sustainability and food security, because of our dietary choices. Already there is enough food to feed the world’s population, just that it’s concentrated in granaries in the West, and its potential to be utilized sensibly in Afrika is thwarted by cash-crop export economies, political instability, pollution, war, runaway urbanization, land privatization and land misuse. How much more could the ability to feed the world be expanded if less of us opt for the most wasteful land-use patterns by going for the meat, especially the factory-farmed meat?

Not that the millennium development goals are worth a damn beyond their pretty letters on conscience-appeasing paper, but if we want to take Mr. Diouff’s grievances seriously and consider how we can contribute to food security, even if rather indirectly, perhaps more of us should consider putting the meat down. This is just a microscopic baby-step into being a bit more mindful of the planet and all its resources we usurp to feed us, given the choices we make, even in diet. We haven’t even begun to discuss the fundamental problem of parasitic capitalism and its imposition of hunger, ignorance, land theft, and wretchedness on the “developing” world.

Don’t you get tired of it being the 21st century and black folks (and Asians, Indigenous folk and Latin Americans too) are still starving, still part of the last billion?

Afrikans – GREEN! Afrikans Must Become Zealous Environmentalists


To expand upon my latest entry at my political blog Project New Palmares, I’ve decided to stress the importance of Afrikan peoples to take global ecological and environmental issues very seriously. Especially in this the month of April, the month of Earth Day. Will we as Afrikans continue to allow others to speak for us when it comes to the fact that climate change will harm the Afrikan continent the most, or regarding the health and ecological disasters faced by Afrikan communities in the ghettos of America and elsewhere due to environmental racism?

Climate change will further expand the Sahara and Kalahari deserts on the one hand, while increasing flooding and torrential rain all across tropical Afrika and coastal Afrika on the other. Environmental racism means France and other European and Northern countries use Afrika as a dumping ground for nuclear and toxic waste, as happened in Cote D’Ivoire in 2006. The situation is similar in the Harlems and Newarks of the world, where asthma rates soar due to the location of waste processing sites, bus depots, and other unhealthy facilities in or near Afrikan communities in America, not in or around white and wealthy communities.

Pictured above is Wangari Maathai, leader of the Green Belt Movement of Kenya. In a nutshell, her legacy to Kenya and all of the developing world, as an environmentalist and political activist, has been the planting of 30 million trees to prevent soil erosion and improve rural woman’s lives by providing shelter, firewood, and access to clean water, among other things. The first Afrikan woman to become a Nobel laureate, I, as an Afrikan who deeply respects the virtues of planting trees and protecting the land, the watershed, the soil, and the whole ecosystem, hereby honor Queen Mother Maathai as a fantastic example for other Afrikans who should and must come to take the state of the natural environment extremely seriously.

I bring up the example of Wangari Maathai – the woman of the month here at Afrikan Raw Vegan Talk – to assert that Afrikans can address our ecological challenges autonomously and in simple ways. Planting trees is one of the most effective and beautiful methods. In Niger, the planting of trees is reversing desertification, as the linked 2007 NY Times article demonstrates. And these fruit trees also provide extra produce while fixing nitrogen in the soil for it to grow other crops. And as I have discussed in other blog entries here at Afrikan Raw Vegan Talk, the example of Yebua Danso at the Ahyiresu Naturalist Centre in Aburi, Ghana shows how effective and beautiful agroforestry can be – in which, to grow food, trees are actually planted, rather than chopped down in the old habit of “clearing the land.”

Afrika and countries and communities predominated by Afrikans – our abodes are not immune to calls to consume less and waste less. Living in Afrika I saw some of the worst pollution on Earth – creations mainly of our own habits and a lack of education on proper, sanitary waste disposal. In urban Ghana or Nigeria or elsewhere, one will notice plastic bags everywhere, clogging up the gutters, floating around even in the woods, all over the grimier areas of the open markets. By just eliminating plastic bag usage altogether and using reusable canvas or other sorts of bags and baskets, how much cleaner would our cities and towns and villages in Afrika and in the Afrikan world be? Even Bed-Stuy and Newark are polluted with this sort of waste and litter.

Solutions and ways to live by example as an ecologically responsible Afrikan – these are not to be found or expounded upon by white hippies on our behalf. We have to own this problem as much as, if not more than, anyone else in the world, no matter who created it. We often do little things and fall into socially engineered habits which reinforce the ecological crisis we all face, especially we Afrikans. So I hope others also contribute to simple practices and organizing tools for Afrikans to respond effectively to the environmental, ecological, and resultant economic crises of the day, which will also boost our food security, land arability, and water availability and quality.

What can we do? Some things that immediately come to my mind:
– Drive less; rely on ones own body and on public transport more for transportation
– Do not use disposable plastic bags; rather use reusable bags or baskets
– Use reusable bottles for water
– Go Vegan! Meat production is one of the greatest usurpers of natural resources, produces immense waste, is viciously cruel, and pastoralism in Afrika is fast expanding the Sahara as browsers chew away the greenery acre by acre
– Reuse ones goods as much as possible
– Consume less, shop less for non-essential things
– Eat more produce and natural foods, rather than heavily processed and therefore packaged foods whose containers cannot be discarded to decompose or compost organically
– Make the most of ones locale in terms of recreation, travel, etc. so as to not tax the environment too often by the heavy pollution spewed by current commercial air traffic
– Eat more locally-grown foods so as to reduce the carbon footprint of food transport over long distances
– Take the lights and other appliances off when not using them
– Live an overall more modest and simple life

Any other suggestions? Feel free to contribute. I only want the world to be cleaner and more sustainable, especially wherever Afrikans are found. And Afrikans MUST take the lead and be fully responsible in that effort. In Afrika, there too, people must consume, waste, pollute, and damage the land LESS. Development, as Frantz Fanon said, must not be into a new Europe or America. We Afrikans can and will make Afrika and Afrikan communities ecologically sustainable paradises, for ourselves to enjoy and raise the next generation within.

No Dollar Value on the Black Lands


I saw this post on Treehugger.com about a pitch by the Cameroonian government to lease some of the pristine rain forest (NgoylaMintom) of that country to the highest bidder, whether conservationists or loggers. No one has yet taken up this seven-year-old offer, and the treehugger.com mentality is to encourage some wealthy Western conservationist to rent the forest before it’s too late and the loggers come through.

My view is that there should be no leasing of such precious lands in the first place. Why must the concept of property and title infect everything and every society? It is a toxic and vomitacious mentality, to sell everything of value to whomever in the world can pay. A serious Afrikan government wouldn’t even think to sell such precious forests to any international bidder. The fleecing of Afrika must stop somewhere. Our deepest natural heritage is our tropical rain forest, whose herbal and medicinal secrets, sanctity, animal habitat, and limitless beauty should bear no price tag, and shouldn’t even suggest to some men the idea of selling it.

Profit motive must die. Capitalism must die. Private property must die. Individualism and greed must die. The idea of selling out the habitats of the planet must die.

I don’t want to see the NgoylaMintom rain forest sold to anybody, conservationists or loggers, poachers or game haciendas. The NgoylaMintom rain forest belongs to all living beings, and all Afrikans. The trees and animals and flora and fauna have a dignity all their own that we as humans must be able to respect. The natural gifts of the rain forest, in herbs, fruits, medicinal botanicals, and so on, should be explored and received delicately and with immense gratitude.

As much as Afrika’s tropical rain forest ecosystems have been reduced and decimated over the past several decades, can’t we as Afrikans now finally see the fruit of such destructiveness and haphazard, unscrupulous sale of our own natural heritage to the looters of the world?

NgoylaMintom, and all the other great tropical forests, mangroves, and other natural areas of the Congo-Basin and West Afrika, should be allowed their full dignity and spared from the capitalism and rapacity of men who would put up such land for sale, irrespective of the cost to land and the environment, indeed the entire global ecosystem of all Earthbound things.

NgoylaMintom doesn’t need to be signed off to some white liberal conservationist from Liverpool or Berkeley. And she mustn’t be signed off to some logger from Calgary. She must simply be left in peace, her beauty and bounty to be shared modestly and graciously with human beings on her own terms.

Long live NgoylaMintom and all unspoiled natural places all over our precious planet!!

To Be Agronomic…

This is actually the only real physical book I took back with me from the classes I took at University of Ghana and Ashesi University in the Spring semester of 2007. This book is Managing Agrodiversity the Traditional Way edited by Edwin A. Gyasi – the professor of the course I took with him, Sustainable Agriculture in the Developing World – and Gordana KranjacBerisavljevic, Essie T. Blay, and William Oduro. This course, a graduate-level class in the Geography department at Legon, was only attended by three students that whole semester – two of us from America (including a white woman from Northern California) and a young Ghanaian woman. It’s troubling, at best, that matters of agronomy, food security, and sustainable land management are not attended to by more students, particularly right in Afrika. But I consider it to have been a great honor to have studied the contemporary thought around sustainable development with Prof. Gyasi.

That is the man himself, during our field trip to Aburi Hills, where we visited Ebua Danso’s farm, the one I mention three posts down, where organic agroforestry impressed the hell out of me and blew my mind. And Ebua Danso wasn’t a master, world-renowned organic Afrikan farmer because of something he learned in a Western-oriented agronomy program somewhere. He was simply reproducing the beautiful and effective methods of traditional, local farmers in Ghana and elsewhere in West Afrika. I come back to all this subject matter and these past events in my life as I reflect on being a raw vegan/ fruitarian, an Afrikan, and a revolutionary concerned with food security, sustainable and plentiful food production and transport, and justice. Raw Vegans/ fruitarians like me eat a lot of tropical fruits and nuts. Bananas produced for the Bonita, Dole, and other big US corporations that maintain banana republics in Latin America – I eat them. I live in North Jersey, just outside NYC where I work and conduct all my business. And I enter the market and select all sorts of tropical fruits that were grown many thousands away, in the very tropics I am native to (and would probably rather be most of the time). If the Afrikan situation was correct, I would be there today with no looking back, doing work, being free, eating right off the land and most likely growing most of my own food. I know activists here in NYC that want to do something like establish organic herbal gardens in Cameroon which will grow medicinal herbs to be exported to the US. Yet the cost of such transport, and the relationship of cash-cropism – an economic practice I approach with some ire – might not be overturned in such an arrangement.

It is likely very impractical to imagine, at this point, a world which, in concern for the pollution and waste of intercontinental food trading – and realizing the injustice of cash-cropism imposed on the (tropical) third world by the (temperate) first world – moves to locovorism, where everyone is eating locally-grown whole foods. In New York state or New Jersey, what do we grow that I dig, apples? A lot of salad crops, yes? Many sorts of berries? Well, that is excellent and I eat the local varieties of those, and have visited apple farms in South Jersey, where I was impressed and felt my innate desire to be a rural, food-growing, simple-ass man, reinforced. But me, I eat a whole lot of tropical fruits. I eat citrus grown in Florida, avocados grown in California (as well as a lot of salad greens), pecans grown in Texas, as for this country. I eat avocados from Mexico, too, Ecuadorian bananas, Brazilian cashews, Chilean blueberries, Peruvian cacao beans, Canadian hemp-seed, Spanish unpasteurized almonds, even New Zealand Kiwis. And that’s certainly not all I eat. I feel concerned about being a non-locovore, a man eating from the global kitchen assembly line established long ago by European mercantilism and colonialism, the antecedents of contemporary cash-cropism. I don’t even eat fair-trade bananas (not even organic).

Does one like me just keep going this way? Agronomy is one of my many, many interests. I’m an urban-ass person, something I can’t apologize for because I was born into that, though I have friends who have moved on from that, and at least tried to dedicate more of their lives to agronomy and food security issues. In the meantime, I suppose we must be advocates for, aside from revolution, or in until its occurrence, clean-green-energy means of international shipping and sustainable locovorism to the extent that it is possible and practical. Surely those in cities and towns with land should say fuck a lawn, and grow food on their free land. Lawns are the invention of retards. Food security is undermined by lawns. Whenever I get a true place of my own, best believe I’ll be growing food on it like a hardcore farmer. But it could be the case, some day down the line, and within the context of repatriating, that I just move to the tropics, to Afrika, where everything grows, and grow durians, pineapples, avocados, mangos, oranges, cashews, cacao, and all that good shit, alongside other Afrikans, a beautiful sista, some little ones, sweating under the palms and sipping fresh juices by the sea (or in the valleys). Ah, to aspire to the good life…