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close this bookCERES No. 134 (FAO Ceres, 1992, 50 p.)
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FAO in action

PESTICIDES: PRIOR CONSENT REQUIRED

Full implementation of the FAO/UNEP program on Prior Informed Consent (PIC) for the control of banned or severely restricted pesticides and industrial chemicals has begun. Henceforth, any pesticide newly banned or severely restricted in any country for health or environmental reasons will enter directly into the PIC procedure, which stipulates that international shipments of these products should not proceed without the agreement of importing countries.

In an initial phase of implementation of the procedure last year, 14 pesticides and seven industrial chemicals banned or severely restricted in five or more countries were notified to governments. Under the joint program, the FAO and UNEP undertook activities to inform and train country officials in the operation, and to strengthen the decision-making and regulatory capability of developing countries.

The PIC procedure is a component of the FAO's International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides, which has been in operation for almost seven years, and UNEP's London Guidelines for the Exchange of Information on Chemicals in International Trade.

POPULATION GROWTH AND FARM OUTPUT ANALYZED

More than 35 different scenarios for population growth and farm production targets in Ghana were explored under a three-year, US $250 700, FAO-executed project funded by the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA). The project made use of the Computerized System for Agricultural and Population Planning Assistance and Training (CAPPA), a computer software program developed specifically to enable users to make projections and scenarios for the interactions of population and agriculture. Officials from Ghana's statistical service, other government department and the University of Ghana were trained in the program's use.

According to available data, natural population growth (namely, not including migrations) in Ghan will exceed 2.85 per cent per annum between 1985 and 2000. A five per cent reduction of fertility over the same period would, under constant private expenditure per caput, reduce the country's trade deficit by twice the foreign debt service. This gives a direct estimate of the cost of population growth.

In all scenarios analysed, food demand was projected to grow at a rate greater than 2.5 per cent
(3.7 per cent under good economic conditions and increased standard of living). It was found that, considering land, manpower and technological constraints, agricultural output could not realistically be expected to grow more than 3.6 to 3.8 per cent. This indicates the difficulty of keeping the agricultural trade balance equilibrated in the mid-term.

In Ghana, as in other developing countries, rapid population growth and a high rate of rural-to-urban migration have affected agricultural development. Between 1970 and 1984, population grew at an average yearly rate of 2.7 per cent, while farm output only grew at a rate of about one per cent, thus resulting in a net decrease in local food production per caput. Over the same period, urban population grew by 3.6 per cent to reach 32 per cent of the total population, while rural population only rose by 2.3 per cent, losing its potentially productive members through migration to the cities. This situation has led to serious labor shortages for farmers during peak seasons.

The FAO/UNFPA project also explored the macro-economic conditions needed to satisfy the nutritional requirements of 90 per cent of the population, and found that this entailed a growth rate of the economy of 11 per cent and the investment, between 1985 and 2000, of one-third of the country's resources.

RESISTANT TREES COULD DOUBLE TANZANIA'S CASHEWNUT PRODUCTION

Thanks to an ongoing, US$500 000, FAO project (UTF/URT/099/URT) financed by the Internation- al Development Association, Tanzania's cashewnut production is expected to double within the next decade, and the cash income of cashew farmers - many of whom are women - could jump by 600 per cent. Cashew is the main crop of southern Tanzania. Grown on more than 400 000 hectares by an estimated 280 000 farmers, it makes a significant contribution to the country's foreign exchange earnings.

Since 1974, however, production had declined by a dramatic 85 per cent, mainly due to powdery
mildew disease (Oidium anacardii). Control of the disease using traditional sulphur dusting techniques proved expensive and difficult to implement on a large scale, at the same time that it posed serious risks to the environment. Through vegetative propagation methods, the FAO helped develop high-yielding trees which showed a high degree of disease tolerance or resistance. Previous attempts at vegetative propagation of cashews in Tanzania had failed, but the FAO paid close attention to techniques which had yielded positive results elsewhere. Carefully conducted trials of tip-grafting and top-grafting methods resulted in viable trees. The methods were adopted at five newly established, 25-ha cashew development centres, with a goal of producing clonal material for distribution to farmers. The project also includes top-working of trees on farmers' fields, to predispose the trees for top-grafting (receipt of clone material).

FOREST INDUSTRIES TRAINING CENTRE IN SOUTHERN AFRICA

A new forest industries training centre for the Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC) is now available for full intake of students. Located in Mutare, Zimbabwe, the centre was built and equipped under a US$27.4 million, FAO-executed regional project (GCP/RAF/213/lTA), financed by Italy. It includes buildings worth US$10 million, and US$9 million of demonstration plants and equipment considered among the best in the developing world. The project will provide technical assistance for international and regionally recruited personnel, as well as resources to award fellowships for trainees from the SADCC countries. The centre can accommodate 94 students of both sexes. Its recruitment base will be primarily fores industry staff, but school leavers may also be considered. The courses consist in theoretical lessons practical exercises in industrial production, group work, laboratory work and study tours to nearby mills. Curricula include: wood technology, testing, properties and measurements; production technology (sawmilling, veneer, plywood), systematic machinery maintenance; planning everyday operations, production cost evaluation, supervisory skills, quality control and evaluation of economical ways of cutting, peeling and slicing logs; timber seasoning, treatment and drying, and timber measuring; safe working methods and saw doctoring. The centre combines training and production in a market-oriented environment. Trainees are required to face the realities of commercial constraints and development, while the centre earns revenue through the sale of finished products. This dual role will ensure long-term sustainability. SADCC countries include Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland . Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Its primary objective is to harmonize development plans and promote economic development in the areas of transport and communications, energy, industrial trade and mining, manpower, food and agriculture.

SUPPORT FOR RURAL WOMEN IN NEPAL

Extension and training services are being provided to about 1 200 women farmers and their families under a five-year, US$1.4 million project funded by Norway (GCP/NEP/044/NOR). Working through the Nepalese Women's Development Division, the project operates in three selected areas representing different socio-economic and agro-climatic conditions. Rural women are organized in small food production groups for household level activities, and in larger community groups for activities such as development or improvement of small-scale irrigation or drinking water schemes. In addition, women farmers will have access to institutional credit by the end of the project. A specific problem addressed by field experts is the lack of farmers' organizations at village level. Access to extension and training services was formerly very limited or nil for women. Before the project was launched, only five per cent of farm households had received technical advice in a give year, and only four per cent had been involved in training related to farming. The majority of farmers depended on informal sources of credit, with high interest rates. Only about 29 per cent had access to institutional credit, the percentage for women being as low as five per cent.