12 February 2010
The huge yields of monocrops have tended to blind us to the dangers of crop failure--and this despite the awful example of potato blight and the Irish famine. In the natural world, systems build in resilience, which is simply alternative ways of surviving. To risk all on one method alone is to court disaster. The complex markets that support developed societies conceal the risk to individual farmers in less developed places who follow the "wisdom" of monocrops. Sure, if their gamble pays off they may get a higher return at the end of the season. However, if they lose the gamble and their crop fails, they have nothing. The alternative is mixed smallholdings: a range of crops, vegetables and livestock. In an increasingly uncertain world, resilience is vital.