Hambrientos de ciencia

AMSTERDAM – En el Delta del Mekong, los agricultores obtienen entre 6 y 7 toneladas de arroz por hectárea en las temporadas secas y entre 4 y 5 toneladas por hectárea en las temporadas húmedas, utilizando variedades de arroz de maduración rápida que permiten hasta tres cosechas consecutivas por año. Por el contrario, los agricultores que se dedican a cultivar arroz en África occidental cosechan sólo 1,5 tonelada por hectárea de arroz de secano tradicional por año, mientras que otros cereales no rinden más que una tonelada -una cifra comparable con los rendimientos de la Europa medieval.

Estas disparidades son innecesarias. De hecho, la proliferación de tecnología agrícola -desde maquinarias más eficientes hasta variedades de cultivos más robustas y de mejores rendimientos- podría achicar considerablemente la brecha de productividad, incluso si persisten las diferencias entre climas y productores.

Por ejemplo, una nueva variedad africana de arroz de secano, Nerica, triplica los rendimientos anuales. De la misma manera, en los últimos cuarenta años, mejores métodos de cría, una alimentación de mejor calidad y una mejor atención veterinaria cuando menos duplicaron la producción promedio de leche a nivel mundial. Sin embargo, las discrepancias regionales siguen siendo enormes: las vacas en los Países Bajos pueden producir aproximadamente 9.000 litros de leche al año, mientras que el ganado cebú en los trópicos sólo produce unos 300 litros.

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