Editor’s note: This article is a reprint of a page that appears in print in Appropriate Technology Magazine, Vol 49, No. 1. It is published here with permission as a part of our collaboration with the magazine. For more, please see the magazine’s site: www.appropriate-technology.com.
Sadly, there is no other way to start this editorial than with an expression of immense horror at Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. I’m certainly not qualified to comment on where this may end, just hoping and praying it will end peacefully and quickly.
Innocent people are being injured and killed in their own homes, while just weeks ago they were living and working in peaceful harmony with colleagues and neighbours alike. It seems indecent, therefore, to focus on how the invasion may affect global energy and food prices when many in Ukraine have already paid the ultimate price. The reality of soaring energy costs, however, and the disruption of Russia and Ukraine’s wheat exports, are bound to affect us all, with the biggest burden likely to be felt across the developing world.
Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), has already warned that, as in any crisis, it is the poorest and most vulnerable who are hardest hit.
“We are very concerned that an extended conflict could limit the world’s supply of staple crops like wheat, corn and sunflower oil, resulting in the skyrocketing of food prices and hunger,” he said. “This area of the Black Sea plays a major role in the global food system, exporting at least 12% of the food calories traded in the world. Forty percent of wheat and corn exports from Ukraine go to the Middle East and Africa, which are already grappling with hunger issues, and where further food shortages or price increases could stoke social unrest.
“The continuation of this conflict, already a tragedy for those directly involved, will be catastrophic for the entire world, and particularly those that are already struggling to feed their families. Stopping the conflict now is the only solution.”
Support and friendship
This issue of Appropriate Technology was 99% complete when the invasion began, a fact which explains why the content reflects ‘business as usual’ rather than the current crisis. Maybe this is a positive, in that we cannot afford to allow Russia’s aggression to dominate the freedoms and prosperity of the wider world, or the examples of cross-border friendship and support featured in this issue I’m thinking of the US$80 million given in support of Sri Lanka’s food value chain (page 4), €500m to support health systems in Sub-Saharan Africa (page 4), US$30 million to fund an African Water Facility (page 7), US $5 million to help fish farmers in Kenya, Mozambique and Tanzania (page 21), the launch of an African Tech start-up fund (page 31,) and a great deal more. Thankfully, this is how the real world operates.
My final words this month are reserved for David Dixon, my predecessor as editor of Appropriate Technology, to whom we pay tribute on pages 10-13.
I first met David when we were both working for the BBC. He was a highlevel producer with the BBC World Service, and I contributed reports on farming, mainly to BBC Scotland. It was always a boost when David spotted something I’d done which he thought deserved a wider audience. It was a privilege to follow him on Appropriate Technology.
David Dixon – By Ras Patel, Publishing Director
It’s with great sadness that we report the death of David Dixon who edited Appropriate Technology for nearly twenty years. David passed away on 25th October, 2021, aged 87.
After studying agriculture in England he worked on agricultural estates in Kenya and Uganda before taking a farm in South Africa, where he instigated modern methods.
Later he joined BBC World Service Science Unit as producer and presenter for many years before taking on this magazine in January 2000. He went on to edit the magazine until June 2020. During his time as Editor, Appropriate Technology transformed from a black and white magazine into full colour print and online publication accessible to many thousands of readers worldwide. He was a most courteous gentleman who was very warm and understanding with regard to the many changes during his tenure. His advice and guidance will be greatly missed. It was a pleasure working with such an nderstanding and considerate Editor.
Find this and other commentary in Appropriate Technology Magazine’s profile on our site.
Appropriate Technology Magazine is a print publication by Research Information Ltd in Burnham, Buckinghamshire (UK). The magazine is a conglomeration of three, the original Appropriate Technology that was first published y Intermediate Technology Publications, International Agricultural Development and Gate Technology.