Jimmy’s Global Harvest Review: Feed The World

January 7, 2010 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews

3jimmy300JIMMY’S GLOBAL HARVEST: Thursday 7th January, BBC2, 8pm ALERT ME

Presenter Jimmy Doherty fancies himself as an action man. And a comedian. And a bit of a cowboy-come-farmer. Not forgetting an explorer…

The amiable host of this documentary has achieved his boyhood dream (which he stresses oh, at least three times) when he arrives in Brazil to demonstrate how it is fast-becoming a food-producing super-power.

Which is handy when he proves – via the splicing of an apple – that the world needs to double its food production over the next 40 years to keep its seven billion inhabitants alive.

He arrives in Mato Grosso to meet its Governor, who is head of one of the largest farming dynasties in Brazil. Last year alone saw this fertile area in the Savannah produce 18 million tons of Soya beans – the biggest export of soy in the world next to the USA. But the fact the crops are dependent on chemicals to neutralise their acidity raises important ethical questions.

Animated Jimmy can’t debate these for long, though; on the field he transforms into an extra from Saving Private Ryan. “This is right at the front of the action, this is the front line!? he says excitedly to the camera. To which the governor hastily responds, “Let’s run because we have to escape from the machines.? But this only encourages him.

Next it’s off to Juazeiro, where resident farmer Marcello takes Doherty to his mango farm. Naturally in season for three months a year, Marcello employs the use of a growth regulating chemical, ‘PB2’ that encourages buds to turn into flowers and not leaves. The graphics accompanying this are straight out of a year 9 science lesson: explanatory and easy enough to follow. But these mangos are also sprayed with nutrients which, together with the PB2, can damage water supplies and produce health risks.

Jimmy’s having too much fun hunting for Cayman alligator eggs to discuss the serious implications of all this. “This reminds me of being a kid, dressing up as a cowboy!? he says when given a belt and hat. While alligator farming has eliminated poaching of the animals, they’re still turned into meat and handbags. A fact Jimmy seems to glaze over in his boyish excitement.

He ends up in Bom Jesus Do Arafuaia, south of Brazil, where the majority of deforestation occurs at the hands of cattle ranches. Here he meets John, a farmer who marries both parties by planting more “eco-friendly? vegetation that was once destroyed. We also meet ‘Carlito’, the biggest cattle rancher in Brazil and someone you wouldn’t want to meet down a dark alley.

Doherty sums this all up with a nice conclusion, but you do feel his wandering mind and boundless enthusiasm cause him to stray off the point a bit. Oh well, there’s three more parts coming up. Let’s hope this endearing presenter can find food for thought.

Corinne says:

A really interesting programme..and enlightening. IBM are doing a lot of work to aid a smarter planet. They’re capturing data about temperature, soil condition, water flow, vibration and location. See this for more information asmarterplanet.com/blog/2010/01/live-from-chatham-house.html