To talk about a single green revolution for all of Africa is absurd. Conditions, suitable crops, rainfall, agricultural techniques vary widely from country to country, region to region even village to village. The irrigated wheat fields of the zamindars in the Punjab shared much more in common with their rice-farming brethren in China, Japan and Taiwan than farmers in northern and southern Ghana do. A village by village approach, adopting what sprouts in the farmers' fields and minds, may be the only feasible way to improve the health of the soil, boost yields, and better the lives of residents.
In addition to Sauri, the Millennium Villages Project has set its sights on 11 more villages across Africa, from Koraro, Ethiopia, in the northeast, to Mwandama, Malawi in the southeast, and Potou, Senegal, in the northwest. The soil conditions in each village will dictate the exact techniques employed to restore them.
For example, in Sauri, the villagers have been encouraged to plant nitrogen-fixing trees--Glyricidia sepium--in fallow years to more naturally restore the soil's health. The wisdom of planting such trees sometimes eludes the villagers, according to Cheryl Palm, the other co-leader of the project. But the trees can provide scarce firewood and, if the method proves fruitful, could inspire farmers in surrounding areas to adopt the holistic technique.
But even a dozen Millennium Villages with strong financial support will not be enough. Maybe 60,000 would, according to the project organizers. From that fertile base enough ideas might spread to truly green the continent.