2.11.2007

good news

The optimist in me loves it when a good news news story makes it on the front page of the paper. Today's NYT features just such an article - In Niger, Trees and Crops Turn Back the Desert.

In this dust-choked region, long seen as an increasingly barren wasteland decaying into desert, millions of trees are flourishing, thanks in part to poor farmers whose simple methods cost little or nothing at all. Better conservation and improved rainfall have led to at least 7.4 million newly tree-covered acres in Niger ...

About 20 years ago, farmers like Ibrahim Danjimo realized something terrible was happening to their fields. “We look around, all the trees were far from the village,” said Mr. Danjimo, a farmer in his 40s who has been working the rocky, sandy soil of this tiny village since he was a child. “Suddenly, the trees were all gone.” ...

So Mr. Danjimo and other farmers in Guidan Bakoye took a small but radical step. No longer would they clear the saplings from their fields before planting, as they had for generations. Instead they would protect and nurture them, carefully plowing around them when sowing millet, sorghum, peanuts and beans.

The story reminds me of that famous Margaret Meade quote ... Never doubt that a small group of people can make a difference. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.

1 comment:

Jason nSJ said...

This was a real challenge in Malawi as well. Subsistence farmers who depend on every bit of crop they raise for survival are yet unwilling to sacrifice a few square meters for trees, even for trees which directly benefit the soil and crops around them.

It's a tough sell when a family's meager existence depends on even a few ears of maize.