FAO says Save and Grow

by Jeremy Cherfas on June 13, 2011

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has launched Save and Grow, “a major new initiative” that calls for “sustainable crop production intensification”. Read the book, watch the video, then stand back as food production doubles by 2050 in developing countries.

The new approach calls for targeting mainly smallholder farmers in developing countries. [It] will enable them to maximize yields and invest the savings in their health and education. … In order to grow, agriculture must learn to save. … [T]he Save and Grow toolkit include[s] precision irrigation … and “precision placement” of fertilizers. … Integrated pest management … is yet another key element. Such methods help adapt crops to climate change and … [a]verage yields from farms practicing the techniques in 57 low-income countries increased almost 80 percent, according to one review.

And there you have it.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Dirk Enneking June 13, 2011 at 4:24 pm

where is the download for the Save and Grow book? Can’t find it. Not a viral message, duh.


Jeremy June 13, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Why are you asking us? Oh, because you can’t leave a comment at FAO. Well, you can read the whole thing online, from the link we gave, and save each chapter to your computer. Or you could buy a copy from Earthprint.


Dave Wood June 16, 2011 at 5:28 pm

I’m getting a bit tired of the pseudo-polarity in the Save and Grow book – attempting to blacken the agriculture of developing countries in, say, Africa, with the agricultural sins of developed countries. There is no way most African countries apply as much nitrogenous fertilizer as, for example, the Netherlands, or cause as much water pollution.

And the 57 country paper cited in the Save and Grow book is a can of beans. There is a major problem in the cited Pretty et al. 2006 analysis of results. Most of the area covered was dominated by one farming system, `dualistic mixed’, comprising 72.6% of the farmed area of the entire survey, mainly in Latin America. However, this system comprised only 4.3% of all farmers in the survey, with an average farm size of 50 hectares. By no stretch of imagination are these `small farmers’. Yet this `fact’ is repeatedly cited as the way forward for small farming in developing countries. We are getting close to junk science and spin with repeated attempts to promote a particular (developed country) view of small farming.

The book recommends agroforestry. But agroforesters have spent decades trying (and mainly failing) to come up with a system that actually works (Faidherbia albida anyone?) at the same time demonizing shifting cultivation, a widespread, excellent (sequential) agroforestry system that is the economic basis of some of the most magnificent tribal cultures on Earth and also maintains a lot of crop genetic diversity.


Ian Dawson June 17, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Sileshi et al. from the World Agroforestry Centre did a meta-analysis of the impacts of green fertilisers on maize production in Africa.

It shows benefits.

As an aside, around 560 million people live in farm landscapes with 10% or more tree cover…


kailash murthy m k August 9, 2011 at 6:02 pm

Respected F A O members

I am a natural farmer from south INDIA practising natural farming since 1988 using only SUN LIGHT AND LESS WATER,,
crop production more then chemical farming ( go through scintest report at http://www.the-anf.org) my methode of natural farming is the only answer for all the probleme we are fasing today like food production, conservation of soil , water , biodiversity, deforstration and claimet change ,,, cast of prodution is very less pl join with us awaiting replay from F A O

with regards
kailash murthy


Jeremy August 9, 2011 at 7:16 pm

Dear Kailash Murthy

Many thanks for your comment. We of course are not staff members at FAO, so we can add nothing. It is possible that someone from FAO will eventually see your comment and reply. Good luck with your work.


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