Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Science Heroes to End Poverty

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Robert Rodale, the son of J.I. Rodale, founder of Rodale Institute, looked poverty right in the eye and decided that returning to traditional agricultural practices of the various areas around the world could end poverty and protect people from families.

To learn more about his practical views based on sound science, read Save Three Lives. Rodale lays out the statistics of the costs and range of deaths from famine. He specifically discusses the uselessness of food relief as a solution and proposes traditional farming practices that can stabilize the land and produce farm products meant to be used in a local environment...instead of importing farm crops from the industrialized temperate farming communities.

From Publisher's Weekly review of Robert Rodale's book, Save Three Lives, we learn the practical message of the author after year's of research in more tropical or dry regions of the world.
Prior to his death in 1990, publisher Rodale had worked through the Rodale Institute to improve agriculture in Third World countries, particularly Africa. Temperate-zone farming practices have been disastrous in the tropics, he writes, and famine relief is not the answer; he notes that 90% of all people who die from hunger do so outside of famine areas. Rodale proposes a return to traditional agriculture with special efforts to rebuild the land. He advocates alley cropping, in which food crops are planted between rows of fast-growing leguminous trees. The trees are cut back for firewood, while branches and leaves are used for mulch, fertilizer or livestock feed. Mixed crops, local species and nutritious plants such as amaranth and winged bean offer promising answers to hunger and famine. Rodale discusses water-harvesting, fish farms and salt-water tolerance in plants. Urging the reader to act to support sustainable agriculture and help prevent famine, Rodale offers a workable solution.

From the Library Journal, we can read a bit more of his ideas about returning these third world areas to more sustainable, traditional farming practices:
Rodale advocates an action strategy involving a return to sustainable indigenous farming systems, alley cropping with leguminous trees to save the dwindling wood supply, biological pest control, sensible use of available water, control of populations, and eliminating exploitation of women, who do most of the agricultural work. His clear descriptions of the problem and practical solutions should motivate all readers to action. Highly recommended.-- Irwin Weintraub, Rutgers Univ. Libs., Piscataway, N.J.

Learn more about this American Science Hero and his righteous indignation about why poverty still exists in our modern world and the Rodale Institute that pursues his vision of a world where famine, exploitation and poverty are eliminated.

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