I was a bit disappointed by this book. It reads largely like a reference work: a long series of definitions and explanation of terms, with not much insight or analysis. Perhaps okay for flipping through, but as an overview of the area it lacks much broader discussion of the possible answers to its question, rather than just defining concepts that may or may not be of relevance.
(review by Gilbert Etienne for Tiers Monde,leading French journal on development)
Gordon Conway has played an important role in the fight against extreme poverty and hunger in the world. He was closely involved with USAID, President of the Rockefeller Foundation, and is now a professor at Imperial College London. The author is equally at home in a remote corner of Hunza (Pakistan highlands)as in the rice fields of India or the eroded lands of sub Saharan Africa. The foresight of the practitioner combines with the negotiator and develops ideas. In his time, Gordon Conway participated in the Green Revolution (GR) in Asia.
This book highlights the benefits of GR, including for the poorest, the landless and very smallholder farmers contrary to generally accepted ideas. However, despite the rise of modern inputs, over several years crop yields have tended to plateau. Several remedies are needed: reduced chemical fertilizers in favour of organic fertilizers, reduced and better use of pesticides, and better water management, knowing that irrigation is almost indispensable. In these conditions, those regions that depend only on rainfall, which can be little or irregular, do not lend themselves to GR. This is worth a couple of chapters alone about soils in Africa and Asia.
We must note the author's comments on local traditions of sub Saharan Africa and Asia. He places particular emphasis on supporting smallholder farmers owning about 1 ha of land.
This book discusses technical analysis techniques as well as it discusses development strategies, especially in sub Saharan Africa and South Asia, the most exposed areas to extreme poverty and malnutrition. In conclusion, the author stresses the need for a "double GR”, one which is more productive than the previous one, but more "green" in terms of conservation of natural resources and the environment. At the same time, greater efficiency in the fight against poverty and hunger is needed.