Case studies in Europe
"three children huddled together, lying here because they were too weak to rise, pale and ghastly, their little limbs... perfectly emanciated, eyes sunk,voice gone and evidently int he last stages of actual starvation"
William Benet of Mayo
The Irish Potato Famine occurred during 1845 which obliterated much of Ireland’s potato harvest and over a ten year period approximately 750,000 people died. The main problem with this was the potato was Ireland’s staple diet. Because of political and religious reasons, under the rule of the British, Irish Catholics were not allowed to obtain an occupation or purchase land. As a result they had to resort to renting land from British Protestant landlords. The largest yielding crop was the potato which made good reason for it to be the most cultivated. in 1845 a water mould Phytophthora infestans infected a large quantity of ireland's potato crop and subsequently destroyed it. The production of a single crop and lack of diversification lead to the main source of food being destroyed by one disease.
What can be learnt from this piece of history is the political actions Britain undertook to try and deal with the situation – from repealing the Corn Laws to free markets, every attempt to fix the famine failed due to constant mishap.This ultimately due to lack of planning. One can see a heavy investment in one single product can lead to disastrous effects if something goes out of hand. Countries can learn from this past tragedy to diversify products for the wellbeing of the population and also to plan properly before undertaking action to anything as important as cultivation of food.
Fisk, U. (2006, May 31). The Scheme of the Crop [Letter to the editor]. Grist: Environmental News and Commentary. Retrieved from http://www.grist.org/advice/ask/2006/05/31/ethanol/
Unknown (2006) The origin of Plant Pathology and the potato Famine, and other stories of plan diseases http://www.botany.hawaii.edu/faculty/wong/BOT135/LECT06.HTM
Digital History (2008) The Irish Potato Famine http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/historyonline/irish_potato_famine.cfm