Famintos por ciência

AMESTERDÃO – No delta do rio Mekong, os agricultores obtêm 6 a 7 toneladas de arroz por hectare nas estações secas e 4 a 5 toneladas por hectare nas estações húmidas, usando variedades de arroz de rápido crescimento que permitem até três produções consecutivas anualmente. Por outro lado, os produtores de arroz da África Ocidental colhem apenas 1,5 toneladas da variedade tradicional de arroz de sequeiro por hectare, por ano, enquanto outros cereais não produzem mais de uma tonelada - um valor comparável às colheitas na Europa medieval.

Tais disparidades são desnecessárias. Com efeito, a proliferação da tecnologia agrícola – de máquinas mais eficientes a variedades de produção de maior rendimento ou mais robustas – tem o potencial para reduzir o fosso de produtividade de forma considerável, mesmo que subsistam diferenças entre os climas e os produtores.

Por exemplo, uma nova variedade de arroz produzida na região montanhosa do interior africano, Nerica, triplica a quantidade produzida por ano. Da mesma forma, ao longo das últimas quatro décadas, a melhoria dos métodos de reprodução, uma alimentação de melhor qualidade e melhores cuidados veterinários têm mais do que duplicado a produção média de leite em todo o mundo. No entanto, as disparidades regionais continuam a ser enormes: as vacas na Holanda conseguem produzir cerca de nove mil litros de leite anualmente, ao passo que o gado Zebu nos trópicos produz apenas cerca de 300 litros.

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