Category Archives: forest conservation

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?

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!!