Sunday, September 13, 2009

From an old article about the late Nobel laureate Norman Bourlaug:

Practical problems, however, make Bongaarts think that rapid African [crop] yield increases are "extremely unlikely in the near future." The obvious obstacles are desperate poverty and lack of social cohesion. When Borlaug transformed the agriculture of Pakistan and India, those nations had many problems but also reasonably well organized economies, good road and rail systems, irrigation projects under way, and an established entrepreneurial ethos. Much of Africa lacks these.

The paragraph highlights the role of infrastructure in system development. In this particular case, adding new fields with high yield crops is useless if there's no distribution and control system to support the improved production sources. Similarly, adding new sources of "green" electricity is going to have very limited effect, unless the grid is re-made to support such sources.

tags: control, distribution, greatest, infrastructure, artefact, niche construction

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