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close this bookCERES No. 098 - March - April 1984 (FAO Ceres, 1984, 50 p.)
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View the documentFAO in Action
View the documentThe First Person You See Is A Buffalo
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FAO Review on Agriculture and Development: Land and people
ISSN 0009-0379

This issue...

The few pages that comprise the Centerpiece section of the number attempt to highlight the major findings of a much more detailed technical report on present and potential population supporting capacity of lands in the developing world which is being distributed to FAO member governments. Such a drastic condensation can only hint at some of the complexities involved in completing the report, and, even less, do justice to the years of preparatory work that was required. A global study of this nature could not have been undertaken until recent years for the simple lack of a common system of classifying soils and of interpreting their varying degrees of suitability for production of different crops It was 23 years ago that FAO and Unesco, with the aim of remedying this problem, undertook to prepare a comprehensive Soil Map of the World In the ensuing 20years, no less than 10 000 maps, reports, and explanatory documents were collected and indexed; gradually common terminology has been evolved to permit an internationally acceptable appraisal of the world's soil resources. A parallel effort, this one involving FAO and the International Agricultural Centre at Wageningen, the Netherlands, to develop a Framework for Land Evaluation provided for some degree of standardization among different national systems. Using the sod map and the new land evaluation principles, FAO began to match sod and climate inventories and soil and climatic requirements of individual crops to arrive at estimated cropping potential This was an interdisciplinary effort, involving seven divisions within FAO. It was from the publication of the first regional estimate (for Africa) that the UN Fund for Population Activities became interested in taking the information a step further and to join with FAO and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) to prepare the global study on which our report is based.

And next....

Our May-June number will focus on another aspect of population its distribution and the phenomenon of rural-urban migration.

Growth potential in Third World farm machinery market

Estimates of the potential market for farm machinery in developing countries are impressive by almost any standard. The FAO study Agriculture: Toward 2000 projected the several growth rate of power inputs from machinery between 1980 and the end of the century at 6.6 per cent annually. In the 90 countries covered by the study, the number of tractors would rise from 2.6 million in 1980 to more than 14 million by 2000, an annual increase of nearly nine per cent. Another study, published last year by the United Nations Centre on Transnational Corporations, estimates at the potential market for farm machinery in developing market economies in 1978 was at least nine times that of the developed market economies.

To support that contention, the centre's study, Transnational Corporations in the Agricultural Machinery and Equipment Industry, cites 1978 data to demonstrate the uneven distribution of farm mechanization. More than two-thirds of the tractors and 70 per cent of the combine harvesters in the world are concentrated on 28 per cent of the arable land in industrial countries. Developing market economies, with 44.5 per cent of the world's arable land, account for only 12 per cent of the tractors and five per cent of the combine harvesters. Centrally planned economies, with 27.5 per cent of total arable land, have 20 per cent of the world's tractors and 25 per cent of its combines.

The amount of farm machinery sales actually being sold, however, is another matter. The Centre's study points out that the rate of equipment addition to the market was 33 per cent of the estimated remaining potential in Oceania, 20 per cent in North America, 8.5 per cent in Western Europe, 6.5 per cent in Japan, and less than one per cent in developing countries. Yet the farm machinery industry in the industrialized countries, the report maintains, has evolved into "a mature replacement market... unlikely in the near future to show a significant growth in total sales." Meanwhile much of the potential demand in developing countries remains unfilled by either imports or locally produced or assembled products. The reason for this imbalance, according to the Centre's study, is that the cost of farm machinery exported to or assembled in developing countries usually in joint ventures with major transnational manufacturers, is almost always beyond the means of individual small-scale farmers. It is calculated, for instance, that it would take an average peasant farmer in a developing country 28 years to produce enough crop to pay for an average-size tractor, while an average farmer in a developed country would need only 0.9 years.

Statistics of this sort have been used by transnationals to bolster their argument that developing country markets are uneconomic and unattractive and to continue to orient their research and development, product design, production processes and standardization of parts toward markets in industrialized countries. "Largely due to the inertia born of the established, and until recently, profitable order of operations," declares the Centre's report, "transnationals are unlikely to make any special efforts, with minor exceptions, to design and manufacture equipment especially affordable to small-scale peasant farmers in developing countries without the necessity for large subsidization by the host government."

And many developing countries have indeed provided subsidies for the purchase of otherwise unaffordable equipment either by individual farmers or for shared use through cooperatives. The study suggests that such arrangements have removed any incentives for manufacturers to develop product designs or production processes that would result in equipment directly affordable by smallscale farmers. "Since the units of equipment saleable under such government subsidy arrangements are limited," the study maintains, "transnationals thus acquire additional reason to treat the local market as limited by the size of the government's treasury, rather than by the market needs. This is a basic economic flaw that host government policies on agricultural development can ill afford to fall prey to."

The study maintains, however, that "it is perfectly possible (for developing countries}to develop an agricultural machinery industry through an arm's length relationship with transnationals, although most developing countries have not proceeded in this manner." The total tractor manufacturing output of the developing countries in 1978 was about 324 000 units, or 15.6 per cent of world production. Seven countries accounted for 90 per cent of the developing world output: Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Iran, Mexico, and Turkey. The average value of the local content of these tractors amounted to only 11 per cent.

Yet there are examples of successful local design and production of tractors and other implements at prices geared to the small farm market, among them Swaziland's Tinkabi tractor, the Swaraj tractor in India, the Iron Buffalo in Thailand, and a series of small two-wheel and four- wheel tractors in other parts of East Asia. In the United States a small firm in New England has begun limited production of a radically different tractor design at a base price of about $3 500, or roughly one-eighth the cost of standard design tractors.

The Centre study concludes that developing countries can, if they decide they wish to, establish the industrial capacity for making some or even all of the agricultural machinery they require, depending on the size of their economy and the level of industrial and agricultural development. How much transnational participation will be required, or permitted, will depend on circumstances and on national priorities.

The Centre's study cautions, however, that developing country governments would be well advised as a first step to analyse carefully mechanizable farming tasks and operations and, as well, the existing patterns of deployment of resources in the agricultural sector. "Mechanization for increased production," the report declares, "may not always be a desirable or appropriate policy target. In many developing countries a lack of on-farm facilities for post-harvesting and handling of crops coupled with the limited economic channels of crop disposal may form a critical bottleneck that has the effect of neutralizing all benefits due from mechanized utillage or crop protection investments. A rational policy approach would, therefore, ensure priority incentives for affordable post-harvesters farm equipment and construction of on-farm storage and crop handling facilities."

Sugar agreement due for renewal, will try to stabilize trade

Excess production capacity and stagnating consumption in developed countries are the two main factors responsible for the setback which has affected the price of sugar on the world market for several years. In an attempt to regularize the serious trade fluctuations, the producing countries resolved to set up an International Sugar Agreement (ISA). This agreement, signed in 1977, is due for renewal in December 1984. It has often been a target for criticism, during its seven years of operation, so that at this point the most desirable step would be to reestablish it in its role as an agency to regulate the international market. Actually that would be an ambitious goal, since the preliminary meeting held in Geneva on 16 January, the impossibility of reaching a common position for all 12 major exporters has been clear. One of the stumbling blocks is the Soviet-Cuban agreement, under which Havana undertakes to deliver an annual three to 3.5 million tons to the USSR, although in view of an eventual revision of the agreement, Cuba appears to be more flexible than in the past.

If the ISA is renewed participation of the European Economic Community might be possible. The EEC however regards the economic bases of the present agreement as inadequate and wishes to be informed about its real export potential. Until now such information has been refused. Consequently Brussels has imposed certain conditions on the EEC's entrance.

First of all the Community asks that basic export availabilities be established for each member so that their joint capacity does not exceed world availabilities. The EEC's mistrust of these availabilities may be explained by the fear of a reduction of its share in the export market.

Apart from this the question of sugar stocks represents a fundamental problem for the Brussels Commission. It would like to see the stocks under the control of an international agency instead of the ISA member countries, in order to exert an effective supervision over the way the sugar stocks are set up (until now the recovery in the sugar stocks market has not necessarily led to a weakening in price). Brussels also considers that the costs of stocking should be partially supported by the rich importing countries. Among these are the United States, which is opposed to measures of this kind. At the same time, better administration of sugar stocks, together with sound regulation of the flow of merchandise, would be in the interest of all concerned: importers and exporters (with prices low enough for the first and reasonably high for the second).

Finally, the EEC requests the establishment of a dual price scale. As a guiding principle Brussels would like to see a strong price applied to exports of brown sugar, produced largely by developing countries, and a lower price adopted for exports of refined white sugar.

The problem of renewing the ISA involves yet another question: what is to become of the Sugar Protocol which emerged from the Lomgreement signed between some ACP countries and Brussels? The Protocol, which is of indeterminate duration and antedates the ISA, stipulates that ACP countries agree to deliver 1.3 million tons of sugar annually to the EEC.

It is important to remember that certain aspects of this Protocol are likely to create problems.

First of all, the price the Community guarantees to the ACP countries, which is negotiated in consideration of "important economic factors", does not account for the costs of transport, and these must be paid by the ACP countries. However, the Commission's attitude is implied by its proposal to undertake a study on transport costs from place of origin to port of arrival for each of the member countries. On the other hand, failure on the part of any country to deliver its assigned quota means that the delivery must be carried forward and sometimes results in a reduction of the quota.

Finally, in the case of extending the present Protocol to include other ACP member countries, the ceiling of 1.3 million tons is not due for reassessment, while the volume is to be reattributed to the pro rata of the augmented number of countries, which means a reduction in the quota of each country.

The ACP countries see this situation as a violation of the spirit and very objective of the Protocol, which was intended to safeguard the interests of the member countries whose economies largely depend on revenues from the export of sugar.

Bearing these factors in mind, together with the EEC's serious budget crisis, it is not easy to predict with any certainty what the repercussions of the EEC's entry into the ISA would have upon the Sugar Protocol, and as a consequence upon the economies of the ACP countries.

New kind of model used to study locust activity

A model is a simplified image of reality. A model can appear in many forms with many different functions in any field (including food and agriculture) that must be described, explained, or predicted about. A model is frequently mathematical, and, as such, looks complicated or closed off to the outsider. But a new family of models has now emerged, big-models, which originate from a set of principles that are different and accessible to everyone. The development of bio-models is particularIy promising in the study of locusts, a continuing threat to the agriculture of developing countries.

In its simplest form, a big-model is an inventory of the environmental conditions under which an animal, plant, or microorganism can live, together with the sum of the vital responses that the organism is capable of making: adaptation, growth, settlement or flight, arrested development or proliferation, birth or death. In order to construct this projection it is essential to know the target organisms well enough, without including material based on the various situations of real life, and to place it in a frame of reference in such a way that it accounts not only for all the ecologically possible environmental conditions, but also for every specific response of the creature under investigation. From this point of view the mathematical aspects are developed merely to get the best total results from the model, because one can legitimately bypass the laws of "organism-environment" relations. Consequently, the bio-models are empirical in that only interconnecting events are utilized; formal recognition of "cause and effect" is not the primary objective of this pragmatic procedure.

The general principles of the biomodels and their application to the most economically important species of locust were originally formulated by the locust operations unit of GERDAT (Groupement d'Etudes et de Recherches pour le Dloppement de l'Agronomie Tropicale) directed by Dr Michel Launois. Some of the topics treated have been in close collaboration with FAO's Locust, Other Migratory Pests, and Emergency Operations Group headed by Dr Rafik Skaf.

Until now bio-models have been applied to three species of locust: the migratory locust (Locusta migratoria) in Madagascar and Africa (inner delta of Mali, the Lake Chad basin, the Sarir desert in Libya); the Senegal locust (Oedaleus Senegalensis) in the Sahel countries, from Senegal to Chad: the desert Locust (Schistocerca gregaria) from West Africa to the Indian subcontinent.

The procedure has been the same each time:
- meeting of specialists with the widest knowledge of the insect;
- identification of key bio-ecological factors for the species under natural living conditions;
- estimating the relative importance of key factors;
- fitting the key factors into combinations of ecologically significant conditions

In practice environment types are created by these methods:
- inventory of the organism's responses (speed of development, rate of survival, and arrivals and departures of adults) brought into contact with every type of environment for a specified period (day, week, month) for each available biological form (eggs, young, adults).

Let us take the example of the desert locust, which has constituted one of the most serious intermittent dangers to harvest expectations since the birth of agriculture in hot regions. GERDAT and FAO have pooled their knowledge and means to set up an appropriate big-model. Considerable difficulties have already been over-come in the initial phase, and the ad hoc group of seven researchers in his study are on the point of testing a preliminary prototype which is entirely computer controlled. The second phase will probably open the way to wide-scale international colaboration in this investigation.

If bio-models make more demands than do mathematical models on the quality and quantity of big-ecological information before they can be constructed, they are also more reliable when it comes to putting them into practice, because from the very beginning they are conceived on the basis of the total habitat zone of a species in reference to every ecologically possible situation.

The big-models already perfected on the desert locust and the Senegal locust have permitted reconstructions, diagnoses, prognoses, and simulations. They provide answers to such questions as: should operations be implemented for the control of pest population? And if so, when, where, and how should they be launched?

The range of applications goes far beyond acridology. It concerns a great number of organisms that come into contact with human activities: predators, parasites, diseases in the animal kingdom (crop pests, disease carriers) and in the plant kingdom (weeds, crops). There is only one preliminary condition to meet: to have on hand sufficient reliable observations in order to establish relations between an environment and an organism existing in its environment without recourse to mathematical hypotheses which cannot be justified at the existing stage of our knowledge.

Brazilian Centre brings aquaculture to the region

An activity new to Latin America and one whose impact may eventually be felt in all the region is beginning to take shape at Pirassununga, near the river Mogi, 230 kilometres from Sao Paulo, Brazil. The project in question is the Centro Regional Latinoamericano de Acuicultura por CERLA (Latin American regional centre for aquaculture), which began its activities in 1981 under the auspices of an FAO/UNDP project and the Government of Brazil.

The Centre is in a tree-covered ravine of 240 hectares where an old fishing station was built in the 1930s. Some of the old buildings are still in use. Near this installation are some old ponds and reservoirs. There are also a series of laboratories, special buildings for laboratories, classrooms, and lodging for the people who work and study there. There are also two dams, one of five hectares, the other of three, and more than 100 ponds and tanks fed by water from a spring, even though the Centre is right on a river. Scientists and experts from Brazil and other countries study there, seeking the solution to the problems of aquaculture in the conditions of Latin American countries and preparing new local experts to spread their experience and knowledge.

CERLA, together with similar centres in Nigeria, China, Thailand, the Philippines, India, and Hungary, is integrating the interregional network created by the UNDP/FAO Interregional Programme for Development and Coordination of Aquaculture (ADCP) and utilizes this international experience. It aims, like the other centres, to promote applied research for the adaptation of technologies, to train staff at a higher level, and to exchange information about aquaculture on the international level.

But CERLA above all seeks to adapt technology to local conditions and to adapt it and to develop the study and the breeding of the most important local species. One of these would be the pacu (Colossoma mitrei), a delicious, meaty, and large fish with a small head. It grows very fast and is prolific and hardy; it should be an important source of income for the small and medium-sized cultivators of the other countries of Latin America.

In its Pirassununga headquarters, CERLA conducts experiments in its tanks on the cultivation of indigenous species (such as Cichla, Colossoma, Pimelodus, Prochilodus, and Mugil), and of tilapia in ponds and reservoirs. It studies the cultivation of carp in ponds under Latin American conditions. It sees to the laboratory work, analysis of the water, experimentation with formulas for the feeding of each species, training of scholarship students from 16 countries (at a level equivalent to the Master of Aquaculture), and information.

CERLA devotes great attention to the problem of food for the fish, which represents half the cost of production. They were experimenting with feeding the tilapia on hen manure, since this fish eats bacteria, and on several farms they are studying the results of growth with fertilizers, without them, and with inorganic fertilizers. The results obtained are not considered definitive until the experiments have been repeated up to four times and until they have been conducted in the large ponds (one is 8 000 square metres) in order thereby to reproduce the results in conditions that resemble large-scale production. The Centre is breeding the pacu in cages for the first time with good results. In ponds with earthen bottoms in order to reproduce environmental conditions, it is developing fry for subsequent dissemination. The new pathology laboratory is the most modern and largest in all Latin America and the plant for production of rations, with a capacity of eight tons per hour, could eventually finance the Centre's activities, because the ration that it produces enjoys great demand for its high quality, even though it is not commercialized.

The training and information part is equally important for countries of Latin America. CERLA can employ up to 12 associate scientists/aquaculturists seconded from the participating countries. At the beginning of the courses (the course lasts a year and consists of three hours of practice for each hour of theory}, it has already trained 44 students. Most of these are already directors of research centres, high functionaries in aquaculture in their respective governments, or university professors. The countries considered the poorest receive a scholarship from the World Bank for their students; the richest, however, must pay for them, and sometimes for this reason, are reluctant to send their technicians to CERLA, which impedes the full development of the influence of the Centre's contributions in those count tries themselves and in the rest of the continent. Another real problem is that Brazil, as host country, bears the greatest burden of the financial contributions - this effort is not divided among the other countries of the region. It is necessary thus to find other external financing and to postpone the purchase of such necessary equipment as a computer.

Information in aquaculture is also vital for Latin America since it is very difficult to obtain literature from the rest of the world. Moreover, the various countries have experiences which the neighbouring countries do not learn about. Sometimes countries do not even know about the findings of their own internal specialized centres. CERLA tries to create an aquaculture information system linked to the Interregional System of Information on Aquaculture organized for ADCP. Thus it will be able to collect, compile, and disseminate data on aquaculture operations which will be able to serve for planning projects or facilitating decisions on investments by governments, agencies, and individuals, and bibliographical information, useful especially for research and training. This unconventional literature (annual reports, reports on projects or missions) will also be codified and used to recover the important data it often contains. For bibliographical information, the Centre will count on the MINISIS package provided by Canada.

The director of the programmes, Dr T.V.R. Pillay, tries hard to steer the project in the direction of a technology suitable for local conditions and, in information and training, to serve the poorest sectors of the Latin American population. Therefore, emphasis goes to the easiest and most convenient type of feeding for the fish, to familiar techniques, to use of small equipment, and to the spreading of cheap and simple technology from other countries (like the "hammock" that the Chinese use to transport breeding fish and which is used to move the large pacus without damaging them, in order later to squeeze the males in such a way as to hasten and ensure reproduction).

The cultivation of native fish in natural ponds and on an artisanal scale that CERLA is promoting can provide an important supplement in income and in protein to the rural poor. The breeding of such valuable species as shrimp and oysters on a large scale can provide precious foreign currency for the countries that most desperately need it. The importance of aquaculture for development, though it is relatively new in Latin America, is evident, and consequently so is the importance of the Latin American Regional Centre for Aquaculture, a pioneer in a field of pioneers, not only for Brazil but for the whole continent.

Kenaf is providing non-wood source of paper

A suggestion frequently heard at annual meetings at FAO's Advisory Committee of Experts on Pulp and Paper is that more support should be given for research and development of non-wood sources of pulp and paper. The argument usually comes from Third World paper company executives. They are conscious of one heavy burden that paper imports place upon economies short of foreign exchange, and they stress the importance of small and medium-size mills geared to domestic needs. The list of potential substitutes was included bagasse, bamboo, kenaf, straw, and Tunisia's esparto grass, which has already been developed to the commercial stage. In general, however, the industry has appeared reluctant to experiment with new raw materials before being forced to do so by extreme scarcity or high prices of the traditional commodity. Kenaf, for example, has been studied off and on for the past 10 years and has been used on a relatively small scale to manufacture a variety of paper and paperboard products. According to research varied out by the US Department of Agriculture and Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), market conditions, rather than technical or biological factors, have limited the development of kenaf mills and products. A fast-growing fibrous plant, kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus) is grown commercially in about 20 countries including Australia, India, Mexico, Thailand, the United States, and the USSR. It is said to be well suited to conditions in many tropical and subtropical countries. It grows well and produces high fibre yields in a wide range of soils, including acid peats, alluvial and colluvial silty loams, sand and sand clay loams, alkaline and saline desert soils, latasols, and many other soil types. The plant reaches a height of more than three metres in three to four months. It can be harvested and prepared for the pulp mill with relatively inexpensive machinery used for other crops such as sugar cane and forage.

Kenaf has characteristics favourable for the manufacture of many paper products including high-quality writing and printing stock and moderately strong packaging and wrapping paper. It has exhibited the quality of "dimensional stability", much prized in the printing trades.

The development of kenaf, among other raw materials, as a potential substitute for wood pulp in the paper industry has recently been urged in a report by Unesco's International Commission for the Study of Communications Problems. The report declared that "the world-wide shortage of paper, including newsprint, and its escalating cost impose crushing burdens upon struggling newspapers, periodicals and the publications industry, above all in developing countries.... Kenaf, bagasse, tropical weeds and grasses could possibly provide alternative sources. Initial experiments are encouraging and need to be supported and multiplied."

One US company, Kenaf International of Columbia, Maryland, has shown interest in investing in kenaf development and has been contacted by a number of developing countries and at least one developed country (Italy) that depend heavily on imported pulp and paper. Pakistan is growing kenaf in order to test it in three mills that normally make printing and writing grades of paper from bagasse. India and Thailand have one mill each currently producing newsprint on a significant scale. Both are managed by the Ballayur Company of India. One of the parent companies of Kenaf International, Soil and Land Use Technology (SaLUT), is collaborating with the Government of Belize in the construction of a kenaf mill in that Central American country. This mill, scheduled to be producing at a rate of 100 to 250 tons of pulp daily by 1985, will aim its initial output at magazine paper, tissue, and paperboard requirements of US paper mills.

World spice trade not just a thing of the past

The caravans, sailing ships, itinerant merchants, and even wars that characterized the spice trade long ago are not just memories of the past. We can talk today about a world spice trade in which international and national organizations and large specialized enterprises all take part.

The UNCTAD/GATT International Trade Centre published Spices: A Study of the World Market, which describes the characteristics and tendencies of this evolving market. The first focus of attention is the expansion of this market in the last few years. The mean annual importation of the markets studied (not counting Singapore and Hong Kong) increased from 220 000 tons in the first years of the 1970s to 296000-327 000 tons in the period 1978-80. The value of these world spice imports in US dollars more than doubled, from $330 million to $694-$781 million a year.

The figures for the world trade show that people are putting more and more pepper, nutmeg, saffron, and other spices in their food.

Per caput consumption depends on social customs in the matter of cooking and nutrition. In developing countries, where consumption of spices is mostly domestic, it is limited to household cooking. In the industrialized countries the food industry uses spices on a large scale for the preparation of meat, fish, vegetables, legumes, baked goods, and other foods. The meat industry is by far the largest user. The pharmaceutical and perfume industries also use spices, but in insignificant amounts. Anise and some other spices are used in distilleries to make gin and other alcoholic drinks.

Black pepper beats all records in domestic consumption, although nutmeg, cinnamon, red pepper, and vanilla are also used widely. Restaurants, canteens, hospitals, and schools also consume a part of the production of spices.

The study defines spices as "one or another of the diverse vegetable substances of intense flavour or aroma obtained from tropical or other plants and generally used as condiments or for other purposes because of their aromatic and preservative qualities". The study dwells particularly on the spices that occupy an important place in the world market: black, white, and green pepper; cinnamon and cassia; dry ginger; nutmeg and mace; cardamom; cloves; turmeric; capsicum; coriander, cumin, anise, fennel, caraway, fenugreek, and dill seeds; saffron; products made from spices (essences, oleoresins, and spice mixtures).

North America and Western Europe are the principal importers of the majority of spices. Eastern Europe buys appreciable quantities of pepper Latin America imports cinnamon, an the Near and Far East, cardamom.

The United States leads the exporters, but since 1976 has been outstripped by the EEC countries (except Ireland and Greece) counted as a group. The Federal Republic of Germany keeps its place as the primary European market, and the countries of the Near East and North Africa occupy an important place as importers in terms of value, thank to their large purchases of cardamom whose price is up. In Asia and the Pacific the chief consumer of spices is Japan, followed by Australia and New Zealand.

Something new and important recently has been the creation, by the producer and exporter countries, of organizations that promote the commercialization of spices: Jamaica National Export Corporation (allspice), Grenada Nutmeg Co-operative Association (nutmeg and mace), the Cardamom Board in India, the Caisse de Stabilisation des Prix de la Vanilla et du Girofle (vanilla and cloves) in Madagascar, and others.

The Pepper Community was created in 1972 by India, Malaysia, and Indonesia; Brazil joined in 1981. This organization proposes to establish pepper prices, to obtain suitable incomes for the producers, and to adopt measures to stimulate demand for importation of pepper. Studies are continuing to create similar organizations for cardamom, allspice and nutmeg. Madagascar, the Republic of Tanzania, and the Comoros are cooperating in the promotion of cloves. The proposal has been made to explore the possibilities of creating an international organization for spices, which would serve as a forum for examining periodically problems of common interest. The structure of the world spice market is gradually changing. This is reflected in the growing importance of direct contacts which importers and users are forming with their suppliers from the producing countries. These exchanges have tended to lessen the diversification of functions, which means that some importers are doing the milling and whole-sale selling themselves, and some mills are moving into food processing. Some large food-marketing chains, such as Safeway in the US, have taken over the importation, milling, and packaging, instead of subcontracting this work to other enterprises as they used to. The firm EDEKA of the Federal Republic of Germany is moving in the same direction. The number of agents and middle men in the spices trade is gradually diminishing.

The UNCTAD/GATT International Trade Centre's study calls attention to the scanty systematic promotion of the use of spices. Promotion has been limited to certain advertising where spices are sold. But the producers have till now made only limited efforts in promotion. The undertakings of the branch associations of certain importing countries have been sporadic too. A notable exception is the initiative on the part of the American Spice Trade Association. The only case in which a spice has been the object of generic promotion is that of vanilla, which has been the subject of campaigns in the United States and France.

Although pepper is well known all over the world, investigations indicate that the demand for this spice could increase in those countries in which per caput consumption is low. The promotional activities in the determined countries could be supplemented by means of a multinational campaign organized by the Pepper Community. Similar cooperative activities could be undertaken in the case of vanilla, cardamom, nutmeg and mace, and allspice.

The study also refers to the numerous health regulation and quality standards which the importing countries impose and which, for their great variety, obstruct international trade in spices The study points out the enormous importance of fixing uniform standards that would be recognized internationally This would allow for greater fluidity to the international spice market and would facilitate its expansion.

Microbiologist finds way to use ''useless'' groundnut shells

Groundnuts (or peanuts as they are known in North America) are one of the top 20 crops that feed this planet: each year almost 12 million metric tons are produced. And for every four tons of these valuable legume seeds there is one ton of useless shells to dispose of. A year's worth of groundnut shells could make a pile a metre high, a metre wide, and long enough to circle the earth.

Groundnut shells are not easy to dispose of. Mountains of them are piled up in all the groundnut-growing regions, but no one has yet devised a way to utilize them. Unlike coconut husks or cocoa-bean shells, they are useless in horticulture. Because they are full of silicon they burn poorly and cannot be used as fuel. It is illegal to burn groundnut shells in the United States because the flying ash interacts with human skin and causes red spots. Nor can groundnut shells be used as animal feed, like the shells of almonds or cottonseeds, because they are too indigestible.

But all that may be changing. In 1977 Thomas Kerr, a microbiologist at the University of Georgia, inspected a pile of groundnut shells on his brother's farm in the nearby state of Alabama. "They'd been hanging around four or five years," he reports. "The hadn't decayed much, but the ones at the bottom were black - almost like charcoal."

From these slightly decayed shells Dr Kerr isolated 37 strains of bacteria capable of degrading groundnut shells. One, if given a few nutrients, was able to use the shells as a sole source of food. This microorganism, a species of arthrobacter, slowly degraded the groundnut shells into a product that looked like ground coffee. In his research, Kerr found that the product can be dried and stored, and makes an animal feed more digestible and nutritious than most grasses and hay. Although the process was slow, he found that if the shells are briefly treated with acid, the bacterium can degrade them in as little as 48 hours.

The arthrobacter does its seemingly miraculous work by attacking lignin. It is this natural "glue" that is behind the shells' uselessness. It encases the cellulose fibres of groundnut shells (and wood), binding them together into a tough composite structure that resists decay. The other major component, cellulose, is also the main ingredient in hay, which ruminant animals (such as cattle, sheep, goats, and water buffalo) can digest and grow fat on. Kerr's arthrobacter dissolve away lignin and allows such animals to digest the cellulose in groundnut shells too. It raises digestibility from less than 20 per cent to more than 7 per cent and increases the protein content from almost nothing to a respectable 15 per cent. This can be boosted even further by adding baker's yeast, which grows on sugar released by the arthrobacter.

For American farmers Dr Kerr's process looks economically very attractive. He believes it can produce cattle feed for less than half the cost of conventional feeds. "Converted shells could be substituted in cattle feed for a portion of the grain that is now used," Kerr says. "Treating all the groundnut shells in the world would provide enough feed for a million head of cattle."

At present he is producing 10 metric tons of his mixture for trials among cattle farmers. Expecting them to find it satisfactory, his university is taking out a patent on the process.

Although the groundnut is native to southern Brazil and neighbouring countries, its biggest producers today besides Brazil, are in Asia and Africa: India, China, Sudan, Indonesia, Burma, Nigeria, and Thailand. The acid treatment may prove costly for these countries. Nevertheless, techniques may be found to bypass that step - perhaps by inoculating Kerr's bacteria into ensilage or resting processes. Both of these simple fermentations can be done on farm.

The work suggests the importance of looking under groundnut shell piles elsewhere, especially in the groundnut's native subtropical regions of South America, where decay micro organisms have had millenia to evolve in conjunction with the shells.

Rich countries still hold the ''key to the larder''

Examining the international grain market, one can scarcely imagine that the present imbalance might be the result of a recent development. The facts are there, however: in 1934-38, excepting the Far East, which imported a very small amount (less than 400 000 metric tons), only Western Europe was a true net importer of grain, and a massive one: the 10 million tons it imported are comparable to the grain purchases which Latin America and the Near East are obliged to make today, an amount greater than African imports of grain in 1982. Half a century ago, North America USA/Canada) was already a net exporter of grain with 4.3 million metric tons. But behind it, Latin America, Australia, and Eastern Europe/USSR did not make a bad showing with net exports on the order of two million tons apiece. Even Africa and the Near East were light net exporters. The whole world, or nearly, contributed to keeping Western Europe in grain.

In 1982, the picture was something else. Australia had multiplied its net exports by five, North America by 14. Western Europe was at the level of net imports in 1962 that it had been 30 years before, but the recovery in the last 20 years has been spectacular. Under the Common Market of the six, then ten, it had halved its deficit in ten years. Ten years later, it was a net exporter.

In contrast to these success stories, the situation in the rest of the world has only worsened. The most revealing way to measure this development is to calculate, in millions of metric tons, the difference between the net situation in 1934-38 and that of 1982 (most recent figures -available). North America stands out then at 55 tons more, Western Europe at 13 more, Oceania at 9 more; net exporters were Africa, down 7.5; Latin America, down 9; Near East, down 10; Eastern Europe/USSR, down 23; and the Far East, down 24.5. These figures should not be taken as precise indicators of nutritional needs. Many poor countries, for example, would import more grain (and other food stuffs) if they had the means to pay for it. On the other hand, a large consumer of grain like the USSR uses part of its imports to feed its livestock.

Now more than ever the rich countries hold the key to the larder, demonstrating one more time that the most industrialized countries are also the largest agricultural producers. Agriculture and industry do no compete with one another: they complement each other.

Sport, commercial interests divide Mediterranean fishery

Governments are weighing a series of concrete proposals aimed at easing the long-running conflict between small scale professional and sport fishery in the Mediterranean.

At stake in the wrangle has been the rich supply of high-priced bottom fish (e.g., sole, bream, shellfish) found in the coastal waters within three miles of shore (or less than 50 metres deep), where trawling vessels are prohibited. Many artisanal fishermen who ply these areas in small boats with highly selective gear maintain that sport fishery poses a threat to their livelihood.

The first source of contention is the increased competition for the fish that results from the large amount of sport fishery. Second, the fact that some sport fishery derives illegal income from its activity - the sale of products caught by nonprofessionals is in most cases forbidden - means greater competition in the market place.

The number of sport fishermen is extremely difficult to estimate, but judging by the number of pleasure boats - half a million in the French Mediterranean compared with 4 000 fishing craft - they far outnumber the professionals, and their impact on resources is significant. In France, in a protected area near the Spanish frontier, sport fishermen are estimated to catch about 20 metric tons per summer with double hook lines. However, the overall impact of the sport sector has never been adequately measured.

Likewise, the real effectiveness of regulations on sport fishery is largely unknown. The ban in many countries (Egypt, Mediterranean France, Italy, Spain) on trammel nets may well be respected, but how many scuba divers go spear-fishing even though all countries prohibit the use of spear- guns in conjunction with scuba gear? Most nations authorize only fishing with hand lines or longlines, but what does the "long" in longline mean? Ten metres? 500 metres?

The lack of clarity on the extent of sport fishery and its regulation helps fuel the fears of artisanal fishermen. "They already feel backed up against the shore by the big trawlers," explains Serge Garcia, fishery resources officer of the General Fisheries Council for the Mediterranean (GFCM). "They see the swarms of sport vessels coming from behind them and feel caught in the squeeze."

Artisanal fishermen are effective economic agents whose survival is not justified merely by social or historical considerations. A recent study in Yugoslavia showed that small-scale fishery there accounts for more tonnage than trawler and seine fishing combined. Artisanal fishermen often have incomes higher than similarly qualified workers in industry or agriculture.

"In the conflict over fishing rights, the artisanal fisherman often fails to see that sport fishery is only an outgrowth of the important industry that he is really up against - tourism," says GFCM Secretary Daniel Charbonnier. "In order to make real headway the entire issue must be viewed in the broader context of the management of coastal areas in general."

However, as the Committee on Resource Management of the GFCM pointed out in a 1982 report, although sport fishery stems from tourism, it can represent a serious secondary individual economic activity and therefore constitutes a threat to artisanal fishery and could mean its ultimate disappearance.

In the long run, the committee said, it is up to the authorities concerned to determine the management objectives in a region, taking into account that it will always be difficult to preserve a socio-economic structure of operational small-scale fishery while developing the more lucrative tourist sector to the utmost. Too-stringent regulation of sport fishery in an area, for instance, would in most places lead to a drop in tourism. Beyond the loss of revenue for the community as a whole, this in turn would damage the business of the artisanal fishermen themselves who depend to a significant extent on the tourist market.

While stressing the need for longrange planning and acknowledging that efforts to regulate inshore fishery have in the past led to many ill-considered, ill-enforced, ill-received restrictive and coercive measures, the GFCM committee cited the pressing need to check what it called "the uncontrolled expansion attained by sport fishery and the damages it can cause to small-scale fishery in terms of occupation of space, catch and marketing".

The committee first recommended that the role assigned to sport fishery and professional fishery in coastal areas be clearly defined and that GFCM member states in which sport fishery is sizeable make an estimate of the number of boats involved and the tonnages captured.

More specifically, it suggested the following steps which are being considered by the member states: prohibition of the use of all types of nets by sport fishermen; prohibition or limitation of the use of all other gear which, by number or efficiency, could directly or indirectly affect the interest of small-scale coastal fishery; and prohibition of the sale of products fished by sport fishermen.

Also proposed was the suspension of diving for certain species with a slow growth rate (e.g., tocust lobster, common spiny lobster) or which have become scarce le.g., groupers: Epinephelus guaza, E. alexandrinus) in order to permit replenishment of the stocks. Such a suspension would have to remain in effect for several years to be effective.

In the longer term, the construction of artificial reefs is likely to play an important role in defusing fishing conflicts. In Italy, some artisanal fishermen have banded together in cooperatives which, having partly paid for the construction of reefs, virtually own the right to fish them. "In the future," says GFCM's Garcia, "we may see a neat arrangement by which small-scale fishermen charge sport fishermen rent for the right to fish around their artificial reefs. But, of course, right now that's only science fiction."

FAO in Action

Community forestry for Senegal

The Government of Senegal wants its rural people to be more involved in national forestry development programmes, an aim reflected in many of the activities of a forestry planning and reforestation project recently launched in the eastern central region of the country with assistance from FAO/UNDP, the Caisse Centrale de Cooption Economique Franse (CCCE) and the International Development Association (IDA). The basic goal of the project is to improve supplies of fuelwood, forage, and other domestic wood requirements of both rural and urban populations The FAO/UNDP role involves the establishment and direction of a Centre to provide training and refresher courses for forestry personnel Starting in March 1984, a series of 40 training sessions of 10 to 15 days each will be conducted. Also planned is a study of the rural forestry sector with a view to identifying the best ways to involve rural populations in forestry activities.

Conservation clubs for El Salvador smallholders

An enthusiastic response from smallholders in El Salvador's Chalatenango Department has helped to quintuple the area covered by an FAO/UNDP project for conservation and development of renewable natural resources in the northern basin of the Cerron Grande Reservoir Launched five years ago in a 25 000-hectare block of the Tamulasco River Basin, the project has expanded as additional technical personnel have been trained, reaching 124 000 hectares at the end of last year. The project's demonstration of improved soil conservation and land use techniques has caught the attention of many owners and tenants of smallholdings. More than 6 000 of these have been directly involved in training activities and nearly 600 have associated themselves with 19 conservation clubs strategically placed throughout the region. After the first three years of soil conservation works, many formerly unproductive lands have been restored for growing vegetable crops and early maturing varieties of maize, rice, and beans Fruit-tree plantings are also showing great promise, even when planted in some of the more rugged terrain of the region, not suited to other crops, and along the banks of rivers and ravines.

India promotes crocodile farming

The Government of India has set up a network of 16 crocodile-rearing centres with the assistance of an FAO/UNDP project that is designed to demonstrate the potential of crocodile skins as an important source of rural income. The project is also providing technical assistance and training, at various levels, in all aspects of crocodile breeding techniques and siting, planning, and management of crocodile sanctuaries. More than 40 technical officers have been trained, and more than 150 village community representatives have been acquainted with crocodile-farming techniques. An experimental farm established in Tamil Nadu is serving as a central training institute for further Promotion of the programme.

Gulf fund extends assistance to China

New agricultural development projects in China, the Philippines, and East Africa will be undertaken by FAO an the strength of additional funding of about $1 million recently allocated by the Arab Gulf Programme for United Nations Development Organizations (AGFUND). Half of the amount is earmarked for an agro-technological extension project designed to benefit approximately 1,7 million rural residents in China. It is the first Chinese project approved under the programe. In the Philippines, the Government will be assisted in improving farming systems to foster self-sufficiency among smallholders in marginal areas. The East African project, which is also supported by Sweden, aims to improve storage and food handling facilities to reduce post-harvest losses in maize, the main food crop in the five participating countries. Kenya, Lesotho, Swaziland, Tanzania, and Zambia.

New strategies for Asian forestry sector

The drive by Asia Pacific region countries to retain more of the benefits from their sizable forest resources by developing indigenous processing facilities is being supported by an FAO, UNDP project designed to establish viable forest industries. A team of five senior FAO forestry experts and a number of short-term consultants from highly specialized fields is providing advice to governments on forestry sector planning strategies and in identifying and evaluating investment opportunities in this field, so far in the order of more than $450 million. The project also serves as a clearing house for the exchange of technical information among countries in the region on questions of market and product development, research, education, and training. A related subproject aims at harmonization of conflicting timber grading rules and specifications A second satellite project, funded by the Government of Finland, is helping to develop the region's pulp and paper sector.

Blueprint to halt Jamaican erosion

In a bid to halt serious erosion problems afflicting the southern slopes of the Blue Mountains surrounding Kingston, Jamaica, FAO has carried out a two-and-a-half year, $3 million survey of the physical and human resources involved and presented detailed proposals for improved management of the watershed. Eighty per cent of the cost of the project was shared equally between UNDP and the Norwegian Government and Jamaica contributed the balance. At present it is estimated that more than 40 000 hectares of land on these steep mountain slopes are being eroded at the rate of 250 tons of topsoil per hectare per year.

Increasing Nigeria 's palm oil harvest

Although Nigeria accounts for more than 10 per cent of world palm oil production (ranking next to Malaysia in output), the full potential of the 20 million-hectare oil-palm belt that stretches across the southern part of the country is nowhere near fully exploited. It has been estimated that the lack of suitable processing facilities in rural areas results in less than one-third of the available crop being harvested. To overcome this bottleneck, an FAO/UNDP project has been providing assistance to the Nigerian Institute for Palm Oil Research to strengthen its research and development facilities. In the past couple of years, the project has successfully completed the design development and performance testing of an integrated set of small-scale processing equipment. It uses a technique that provides for optimum extraction and recovery of premium-quality palm oil yet remains compatible with traditional techniques already established in the small rural processing plants that have provided 80 per cent of Nigeria's palm oil output The next stage of the project will be the establishment of pilot demonstration units to encourage introduction of the new equipment in rural areas.

Intensive dairying for Burundi

To help the (Government of Burundi meet its objective of self-sufficiency in livestock production while at the same time limiting the amount of land required for this purpose, an FAO Technical Cooperation Project has been demonstrating the potential of intensive production units on the Imbo plain. Local technicians are being trained in the management of highly productive exotic breeds under tropical conditions. It is hoped that the demonstration units will encourage pastoralist producers to adopt a settled, more intensive mode of production, thus freeing more land for cereal crops needed by a growing population

Agricultural investment declines in 1983

Growing uncertainty regarding the resources available for the major multilateral financing institutions was reflected in reduced activity during 1983 in FAO's Investment Centre. The number of Investment Centre-assisted projects dropped from 50 in 1982 to 39 last year, while the total investment represented fell from $2.642 billion to $2.067 billion. Of this amount, $1.146 billion came from external sources, while the balance was provided by 30 recipient governments. Fourteen of the projects, representing more than a third of the total investment, were involved with general agricultural development. Other large areas of investment were agricultural credit and marketing projects and irrigation and drainage.

The First Person You See Is A Buffalo

Ceres: Ms Dholakia, could you explain what SEWA is?

Dholakia: SEWA is a trade union of poor women workers who try to earn money through their skill and physical labour. They often work at home, producing something like carpets or cane and bamboo-work, or just milk production. They may be small or petty vendors, fish vendors; they may be agricultural workers. Similarly, there are many women in India working as agricultural labourers or handcart pullers. They are brick-plant workers; they build houses and roads, etc. So they are not earning their monthly wages in an office or factory. They are earning their livelihood by their own skill or labour; that is why they are self-employed. Now, we began organizing these women to protect them against exploitation, to improve their income and to improve their status in rural society. SEWA is both a trade union and a development organization.

Q: When did you start?

A: We started in 1972 in New Delhi and now we have our own bank of 10 years' standing, because those women are rural, poor, and illiterate and the moneylenders had been exploiting them very badly. So in order to help their economy, what the women needed above all was credit. Our organization is not a governmental organization; of course, there are government institutions that are working to solve the problems of the urban and rural poor. We have found that the Government's programmes do not reach the poorest women. So the purpose of SEWA is not purely economic; we also try to create consciousness among them; we develop leadership among them, and strength, so that gradually they can form pressure groups that can help the Government and us, all of us, to make appropriate policies. These women are not visible and few people know them; what is their life like? Our task is to make them visible. Another problem is that in spite of the fact that they perform three-quarters of the total work, they earn very little of the income. So SEWA is trying to see that their income increases so that it will change the politics of their lives and improve their status in rural society. We also try to bring them into the mainstream of development, and that is why at local level, at national level and at international level, both in government circles and in non-government circles, we are trying to focus everybody's attention on those self-employed, mostly rural, women.

Q.: You have been organizing some of these women into milk cooperatives in the Ahmedabad district. Could you tell us some more about it? What were the greatest difficulties?

A.: Eighty per cent of the nation's population lives in villages. Now, in any village, about 50 per cent of the people are women. They look after the cattle. When a cow or buffalo has a calf, the woman looks after her very well. She will milk it, she will sell the milk, she will go to the bank and to the moneylenders. She will graze the cattle, she will take it to the veterinarian. It is really those women who are the milk producers, and they must be recognized in their own right so that they get the benefits of their work. The dairy development has made a lot of progress in our state, but the women who do 80 per cent of that work do not get the benefit of the income. Another problem is this: 65 per cent of these rural women are landless labourers and they have no other agricultural income.

Q.: How can a landless woman have cattle?

A.: People, even banks, often ask us "How can you ask us for a cattle loan for a woman who does not own land? Where will she get the fodder for the cattle? How will she keep the green grass'?" Our answer was this: the fact that she is landless should not stop the bank giving her a loan, because these women are the poorest. Another thing is that they do not own land, but they are working as agricultural labourers, and the farmers do not pay them agricultural workers' wages in cash; they will pay partly in terms of food grains, partly in terms of fodder, so that the women will be allowed to take a certain amount of fodder and grass from the farmer's plot where she has been working. Also, in this dry area, where the rainfall is hardly four centimetres, grass is not available, and deforestation is a positive harm People should not be encouraged to cut the green trees. The dairies have set up cattle feed factories. Cattle feed is provided at a subsidized rate to cattle owners. It is not necessary for a woman to have a green pasture of her own.

Q.: She still must have some place to house cattle?

A.: No. Very often the bank tries to raise this issue. They want to know where these poor landless women will keep the buffaloes and cows. So I ask the bank officer: "Why don't you come and ask the women themselves?" So the bank officer came and asked Lakshmi and Gooniben, both poor landless labourers who have just one-room clay and mud houses around a small tribal courtyard where they would tie their cattle. So Lakshmi said, "It is the first time in seven generations that we own a buffalo. My father's father's father's grandfather - none of them ever owned a buffalo. So it is like having a son after seven generations." So the buffalo stays inside and Lakshmi sleeps outside the house, in the street.

Q: You mean the woman lives outdoors and gave her house to the buffalo?

A.: Yes. She cooks outside: she has put the stove outside and all the furniture she had. If you go there today on this date, I2 December, to those new cattle-owners, just you knock on the door of the village woman, and she will open the door and the first person you see will be the buffalo. And those poor women will not have a blanket for themselves, but they will wrap the buffalo in the blanket.

Q.: Then finally they get the money to buy the cattle in the first place?

A.: Our rural development ministries have a programme for the education of the rural poor, and they give credit to the families living below the poverty line. Because the city banks have no faith, thinking that the people will migrate, and that it will be impossible to collect the loan, we certify that he or she is deserving. The bank officer will come and fill in the forms. We just stand as moral guarantors. When we started to give loans for the buffaloes and cows five years ago, the bank said that they would not advance money to the women. Officially on the record it would be in the husband's name. So we had to fight and fight. The husband has got everything under his name, and so just for a change let the woman have something of her own. If her husband kicks her out, turning her out of the family without giving her any legal maintenance, she will have something. Very often he will bring a second woman, a third woman a fourth woman, and in rural life you do not need to go through the legal process; men decide everything even though the woman works for her whole life, she cannot even own her children. She will just be packed off to her father's place.

Q.: And her husband will keep the children?

A.: The husband will keep everything he likes. If he does not like the daughters, they will be sent with the mother. So we say that if a cow or a loan is given to a poor woman it is her own property. That way if her husband migrates, that is, goes to another village or the city to work and does not send money home, these women householders will have some security.

Q.: How do the milk cooperatives work?

A.: First we go to the village and organize a very informal meeting, just under a tree, say. We all gather, and sitting in the dust we begin with a prayer and then an informal chat. We ask, "What is the price you are getting for milk?" A woman will say that is less than a rupee for a litre. So we say that if you get less than a rupee a litre this is exploitation. Why not have a cooperative? But they say, "We don't know, we don't have a truck." I say, "All right, but the dairy will send you a truck." And six or seven women form a management committee. So, every evening and every morning all the women will bring their milk to a designated place. And before each women pours the milk into the general can, a sample will be taken in a test tube and will be measured and analysed and recorded by a dairy employee. Now SEWA places an organizer in that village and trains a local woman, so the team of the local woman and the SEWA organizer will be working together. Then we make an arrangement with the daily bus from Ahmedabad to send the transport to collect the milk. In Ahmedabad, the quality and quantity is checked again. And we see that the milk money goes to the women of the village. Otherwise, their husbands will beat them and make them give em them money, which they will use for gambling. But if you give money to the women themselves, they will spend it on children's clothes, food, repairing the hut or medicines. So that is why we insist that the women get the money.

Q: Are the villages very near the city?

A: The villages are only about two hours away from the city. We have another problem. Because these village women are illiterate, people within the local power structure, like the moneylenders, cheat them. And the women who have already debts with them have to pay them back from their income, and because they are illiterate, they cannot read what is written on their paybook. Because they live very far away from the bank, they cannot go to see that their installments are being paid into the bank and whether they are getting the subsidies. So their illiteracy is a serious problem. We are trying to solve the problem by teaching functional literacy. The woman who is willing to work as the milk cooperative's secretary is taught to sign her name so that she can sign a cheque. But the problem is that men feel bad about it. They say, "Why should you incite women against us? Leave the milk business in our men's hands." And when we want those women to come for training in Ahmedabad or even in the village, the men don't want to send them. "Why should they go?" they ask. And sometimes tile husband just teases me, saying,"! hope you are not going to sell our women in the city."

Q.: Is it possible to train then' in the village?

A.: Yes. We tried both ways. We have another income-generating programme of weaving and spinning, plus creches and support services. We help with pregnancy and post-natal care, providing food for them. We run a vocational training Centre for them in carpentry. Every three months we act grass-roots leadership training. But these are short sessions of three or four days. So we transport them from the village and we take all the responsibility. There is a residential hostel for women in Ahmedabad. In the villages we are setting up a four room building where they will all gather, where there will be low-caste Hindus and high-caste Hindus together. The castes are gradually beginning to associate.

Q: Are all those poor women lowcaste?

A.: Most of them.

Q.: And are there Muslims among them?

A.: Yes, five per cent of them are.

Q.: In how many villages are you active?

A.: Six years ago we started in one village and now we are working in all of the Ahmedabad district. We are present in 24 villages. Our membership is now about 5500.

Q.: Is SEWA active mainly in Gujarat?

A.: Yes, we started in Gujarat, but now we have ventures in nine other states. And our bank is recognized as a model by the Women's World Banking in New York, and we are affiliated with the International Textile Labour Association, and recognized by the International Labour Organisation in Geneva and we are in the Planning Commission in India. The Government has asked us to become consultants on programmes for self-employed women, for rural women, for urban women, for slumdwelers. So we feel we have been making steady progress and SEWA is not just an office or an organization it's a women's movement. It is definitely making a dent in the policies for poor women and their self-image.

Where The Desert Stops

To preserve precious agricultural land the Chinese are mounting a major campaign against encroaching sand

Figures concerning population and arable land in China have been cited often enough, but they bear repeating in any consideration of land use in that country. With only slightly less than one quarter of global population, China must make do with less than 10 per cent of the world's arable land. This works out to about 0.1 hectare per caput.

Pressures on agricultural land are thus enormous and increasing, as a result not only of population growth per se but also of the attendant economic and social pressures. One recent Chinese estimate is that between 1957 and 1977 the nation lost nearly 30 per cent of its farm land a total of some 33 million hectares. About 20 per cent of this loss was attributed to urban and industrial development, but the rest was due to various forms of land degradation, namely, deforestation, erosion, desertification, waterlogging, and salinization.

By no means the least of these has been desertification. The Academia Sinica estimates that during the past half century encroachment by desert on arable land has been at the rate of 1 000 square km per year. Added to another 120 000 square km that became decertified during previous historical periods, a total of 170 000 square km has become desert as a result of human actions.

Most of China's decertified land is distributed along a wide belt across the northern part of the country; including the western part of the northeastern plain, the vast area to the east of the Tarim Basin, to the north of the Great Wall and the Kunlun Mountains, and to the south of the Sino-Mongolian and Sino-Soviet borders. In all it encompasses more than 200 counties with a total population of about 35 million.

In addition to this, Chinese scientists calculate that another 150 000 square km are at risk of desertification if the land is used improperly.

Even if the threat of desertification falls mainly in some of the less densely populated regions of China, the overall implications for a country with China's land-to-population ratio are disturbing, and in recent years the Chinese have been accelerating planning and programmes intended to counteract the menace of the desert.

Lessons from history. A focal point of campaign strategy in this struggle is the Lanzhou Institute of Desert Research, an offshoot of the Academia Sinica. It is located on the fringes of the sprawling industrial city of Lanzhou, which straddles the Yellow River as it cuts across the province of Gansu to make a vast loop into Inner Mongolia. The Institute has a quarter of a century of experience in the development of desert control measures. Its present director, Professor Zhu Zhenda, who has been with the Institute since its inception spent 10 years in the forbidding

Taklimakan desert of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region (In local dialect the desert's name translates into (You can get in, but you can't get out.") There, mute testimony to the relensless historical advance of the desert can be found in the eroded ruins of Kroraina, which 16 centuries ago was a prosperous city of 10 000, an important stop on the ancient silk route out of China. Today it is a wastelaml, accessible only by camel. Nevertheless, some students of the archaeological and anthropological evidence from these areas are convinced that there was considerable agricultural productivity in the distant past that was lost through poor fanning practices and overgrazing. "In my mind," says Professor Zhu, "there is great significance in studying the historical processes of desertification."

There is opportunity to do so without making the arduous journey to the ruins of Kroraina.

Some 250 km north of Lanzhou in Ningxia Hui Autonomous region one can witness how the desert has gradually swept itself over the Great Wall of China, burying it completely in many places, eroding the exposed rocks in others. Zhongwei, on the northern slopes of the Yellow River Valley and on the main rail line built from Beijing to llruma in the 1950s, is a front line encampment in the battle against the desert. Nearby, in the valley of the Yellow River itself, is the Shapotou Research Station, one of the outposts of the Desert Research Institute in Lanzhou.

It is along this strip where the railroad touches the southern perimeter of the Tengger desert that the battle to control the drifting sands can be seen in its most dramatic form. Two or three kilometres north of the rail line a county road peters out amid 30-metre high sand dunes, where, even on a relatively calm day, a fine spume of whispering sand jetting out from each dune peak testifies to the ceaseless motion of the desert. Beyond this point, transport is by camel train, the only means of going "inside the desert".

One quarter survive. From the desert's edge back to the railroad, one can trace the step-by-step strategy used to control the shifting dunes. The first line of defence, looking almost like a caricature of the Great Wall of China itself, is a fragile two" metre-high fence of woven willow that follows an uneven course along the upper ridges of the undulating dunes. Its purpose is to check the more severe effects of the winddriven sand, providing more shelter for the leeward side of the dunes, which are then stabilized with a checkerboard grid of straw tamped deep into the sand Within each square metre of the grid a single seedling of one of three hardy species (Caragana boschinski, Hedysarum sopariaum, or Artemisia ordesika) is planted. This method of binding the sand with straw has been adapted from one used by peasants of the region, with whom desert researchers have worked closely.

Although planting is normally undertaken after one of the region's sporadic rains, the station workers expect only a 25 per cent survival rate from the initial planting, except where irrigation is possible. Nevertheless, as one continues back from the desert's edge toward the rail line, results of previous plantings become apparent. Some of the surviving shrubs and trees are half buried in shifting sands; others have had their roots exposed where the winds have whipped away the side of a dune. Yet, little by little, these straggling ranks of trees are closed. The protected belt on the north side of the railroad ranges from 700 to 1000 metres in width and only the first 50 of these are irrigated by water pumped from the Yellow River.

Yet the narrow belt of greenery is serving the purpose for which the Shapotou Research Station was originally set up in the mid-1950s: to protect the new railway line from the drifting sands, which by that time had already crossed to the south banks of the Yellow River at some points. The bonus from the work at Shapotou has been the demonstration that not only is it possible to stop the forward movement of the desert and to stabilize the dunes, but also to reclaim the protected areas and literally to transform them into productive soils. This process of transformation becomes increasingly evident as one moves south from the railway line down the valley slope to the Shapotou station itself. There, since operations at the station began a new layer of topsoil about 30 cm deep has been created. The factors involved in this act of creation include the silt that is carried up with the irrigation water from the Yellow River which contains many properties of soil fertility, as well as green manuring with legumes as an initial crop. Station scientists estimate that it normally requires 10 to 15 years to establish a sufficient depth of topsoil for satisfactory cropping. In addition to the legumes mentioned (Astrocycles adsurgens) the station is growing pears, peaches, grapes, soybeans, and safflower.

Replicable success? Thus, while the initial purpose of the station was to protect an important transport link, it has become clear that the agricultural possibilities revealed have become increasingly important. Shapotou managers take modest pride in thc fact that communes within the surrounding county have already reclaimed some 7500 hectares of land from sand dunes and put them into crop production by using methods based on the experience at the station The county government is now expecting to add to this another 5 000 hectares over the next four or five years.

The experience gained at Shapotou will obviously be of value also in the Chinese Government's much broader campaign to combat soil erosion and land degradation across the 11 provinces of northwest, north, and northeast China where desertification is most serious. Government allocations for this "Three North" project are reported at RMB 1000 million (about US$500 million) for the period 1980-90. The project puts priority on combatting soil erosion by encouraging forestry and pasture development and the planting of shelterbelts along roads, rivers, and canals and around villages and houses. By 1990 it is expected that nearly 6 million hectares of forest will have been planted in the region, thus increasing forest coverage from 3.1 to 4.3 per cent of the total area.

Scientists at the Desert Research Institute recognize that achieving repetition of the successes of the Shapotou station on a much broader front will not be easy. Desertification as a process takes place under a variety of natural conditions and the required measures for control and for reversing the process vary accordingly. Even within the same natural zones, the degree of desertification may differ significantly and thus alter the type of corrective action required.

In their methodical approach to combatting the encroachment of sand, Chinese scientists have even classified desert movement according to speed: slow is less than 5 metres annually; medium speed is from 5 to 10 metres annually; fast deserts are those where dunes are advancing at more than 10 metres each year.

An unstable state. Scientists at the Lanzhou Institute divide decertified land into three categories: first, the region where decertified land is scattered through semi-humid zones; second, areas where desertification is developing in the steppes and in semiarid or in desert zones; third, areas where desert sands are advancing and fixed or semi-fixed sand dunes are being reactivated.

Within the first of these categories, provided that the ecobalance is not further destroyed, a few slight measures may often bring about the process of self-reversal. Even within the second category, there exists the possibility of reversing the trend toward desertification, but the process is much slower and less certain because of the fragile ecobalance. Any further aggravation of the desertification process renders the possibility of self-reversal smaller and smaller. For already decertified land in the arid steppes and desert steppe zones, there is generally no possibility of self-reversal after the ecobalance has been destroyed, because natural conditions are so severe.

Desert researchers emphasize that the historical processes of desertification rarely follow a simple, undeviating course, at least not until an advanced stage is reached in which all human activity has ceased in the area. Instead, because of repeated substitution of one type of agriculture or animal husbandry for another and under the influence of variable amounts of precipitation each year, desertification follows an uneven pattern of expansion interspersed with temporary intervals of stability or even recession. These fluctuations are further affected by the growth of population and the intensification of economic activity. Essentially, the ecological system is always in an unstable state, but the general trend is toward increasing desertification.

In a report published about two years ago, the Lanzhou Institute identified the chief causes of modern desertification in north China as follows (figures indicate the percentage of total area desertified in modern times):

Almost all of these causes, the study points out, reflect the pressure of population growth. "Therefore," the study concludes, "it is of essential importance to control the growth of population in order to restore the ecological balance and to reverse desertification."

Quite aside from long-term national policies to restrict population growth, China's campaign against desert encroachment embraces an impressive range of more immediate measures, all tailored, as at Shapotou, to match local conditions. The basic objective, however, is to combine agricultural and forestry activities within a forest shelter framework to create, eventually, a stable "eco-structure". It puts emphasis on forage production to ease the pressure of livestock on grazing land. It stresses careful, overall planning of the drainage areas of river systems to determine a rational and equitable distribution of water between upper, middle, and lower reaches of the system.

Failures in funding. Besides sharing techniques of desert control with peasant communities across north China, scientists from the Lanzhou Institute have shown themselves eager to exchange experiences internationally. Institute personnel participated in the 1977 UN Conference on Desertification, and subsequently arranged two international seminars at the Institute, in 1978 and 1981.

It remains to be seen, however, whether the priority that China has accorded her own schemes for desert control will provide new impetus to the global campaign against desertification that was launched seven years ago. A two-year survey just completed by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNLP) has found that the worldwide threat of desertification is increasing in severity. The survey estimated that a total of nearly 3.5 billion hectares of the world's range, rainfed cropland and irrigated land - an area approximately the size of North and South America combined - is affected by desertification. And each year, another 21 million hectares is reduced to a state of near or total uselessness.

Even more disturbing, however, is what UNEP Executive Director Mostafa K. Tolba has called "the absurdly inadequate" level of contributions to the special account set up five years ago to finance a plan of action agreed upon by 94 countries at the UN Conference on Desertification in 1977. At the end of last year, contributions totalled less than $50 000, all from developing countries. Meanwhile, over a six-year period, an effort mounted by the UN General Assembly to mobilize funds needed to halt desertification has raised only $26 million as compared with an estimated annual requirement of $4.5 billion for the next 20 years. The apparent unwillingness of nations to tackle desertification, says Tolba, reflects a failure to recognize that desertification and other threats to the planet's life support systems are causing social and political breakdowns "which in turn threaten our tenuous global security".

"The main difference," he says "between UNEP's understanding now and seven years ago of the nature of the problem is a more thorough appreciation of the universality of its impacts and causes which extend well beyond the drylands most immediately affected. Desertification results not only in the loss of nations' productive resource base but also in the loss of valuable genetic resources, increase in atmospheric dust which could have as yet unknown consequences on the global climate, disruption of natural water recycling processes, loss of markets... The list is long."

Tolba's warning, and the findings of the UNEP survey, will be placed before a special two-day session of UNEP's Governing Council in Nairobi in late May.

Livestock for the landless

Some small species are ideal for household husbandry - and for improving diets of poorest families

Computers, as everyone knows, are getting smaller and becoming more personal. First we had large mainframes, then minicomputers for small businesses, today microcomputers, designed mainly for home use, are all the rage.

Now consider livestock. "Mainframes", such as cattle, have received enormous research and development; "miniframes'', such as sheep and goats, have received some attention; but few people have ever taken seriously the possibility of "microlivestock" for home use.

Yet, with "personal livestock" even postage-stamp-sized farms - now so prevalent in the Third World - could be meat producers. In fact, the landless could raise their own meat right within their own dwellings.

Animals for rearing in the home are obviously not the conventional farm stock that need pastures. At first they seem strange and exotic. But look behind the initial shock and you'll see an important area for development.

The almost universal use of chickens shows how vital small, easily managed livestock can be to poor people. Scratching a living out of the dirt and dust, these scrawny creatures are ubiquitous throughout the Third World. For the poorest of the poor, bony chickens may be the only source of meat during much of a lifetime. The animal's small size, ability to forage for itself, and natural desire to stay around the house makes it one of the most vital livestock resources of Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Guinea pigs. Other examples of home livestock are less well known but equally deserving of recognition. In the highlands of Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador most Indians keep guinea pigs and regard them as an essential part of their life. The animals are allowed free run of the house. They cannot climb like other rodents, and a simple stone sill placed across the doorway is all that is needed to prevent their escaping. Inside the hut special rock or adobe hideaways are constructed, usually under the hearth or in a corner, for the guinea pigs to sleep and bear their young.

For many Indians these household livestock are the main source of meat. To celebrate special occasions they eat guinea pig roasted on a wooden skewer. Often they serve it with potatoes or rice and a sauce made out of onions, peppers, or peanuts. They may have it deep fried like chicken. Criollo restaurants serve picante de cuy, a guinea pig stew with plenty of chills, or cuy chactado, a breaded guinea pig sandwiched between stones and fried.

Today, Peruvians alone cat an estimated 70 million guinea pigs each year. Guinea pigs are even raised in high-rise apartments in the city of Lima. They are commonly kept in cardboard boxes and often live under their owner's bed.

The idea of raising guinea pigs for food may seem repulsive to outsiders, but these small animals are prolific, tractable, and easy to feed, house, and handle. They exemplify the possibility that microlivestock could be a key to increasing meat production in the poorest parts of the world's poor countries.

In the Andes the guinea pigs are cared for mainly by women or children. The animals are so easy to manage that one person can tend as many as 3000. They are fed mainly cabbage, lettuce, carrot scraps, wild grasses, dried corn stalks, and leaves. Some barley is grown specifically for guinea pig food; it is cut green and sold in small bundles in the markets.

Twenty female and two male guinea pigs can produce enough meat to provide a family of six with an adequate diet year-round. These tiny animals actually require so little space that the ideal production is a small cage or pit housing about 10 females and one male. Females can become pregnant when only three months old and can produce as many as four litters a year. The young are for themselves almost as soon as they are born and wean themselves in only three days. In principle, a farmer starting with one male and 10 females could have 3 000 animals one year later.

An FAO study at Ibarra, Ecuador, showed that on small mountain farms guinea pig was more profitable as raise than either pigs or dairy cows, partly because it fetched higher prices in the local markets.

University of Florida researchers Wayne King and Charles Woods suggest that at least a dozen relatives of the guinea pig are potential microlivestock resources. They believe that capybara, nutria, hutia, agouti, vizchaca, mara, cloud rat and bandycoot rat all deserve investigation. These animals could be the guinea pigs of the future.

Grasscutter and rat. Actually two rodent domestication programmes have occurred in Africa in recent years: the grasscutter (canecutter) of Ghana and the giant rat in Nigeria. Both animals provide popular "bushmeats" and researchers are now learning how to raise them in captivity.

The grasscutter has beady eyes and a long tail and weighs up to eight kilos. In West Africa its meat sells for more than beef, pork, or lamb. Indeed, an average mature animal weighing four kilos can bring the equivalent of $75. With prices like that, the meat is a luxury only wealthier Chanaians can afford.

In an effort to capitalize on this gourmet delicacy, the Chanaian agricultural extension service encourages farmers to rear the grasscutter in cages. Breeding stock and information are furnished, and there is a central office for records. The deep red, rabbitlike meat is a savvy treat. Every part of the body - even the hair - is eaten. Reportedly, this vegetarian rodent is healthy and easy to raise in captivity. In more widespread use, its price should come down, and the grasscutter might one day play as important role in reducing Africa's protein shortage as the guinea pig plays in the Andes.

Blue duiker. Another small African mammal with potential for household animal husbandry is the blue duiker, a rabbit-sized antelope of southern Africa. Some United States researchers are excited by its promise. Ruminant nutritionist Robert Cowan of Pennsylvania State University has had them in trials for two years and reports that there is no problem with domesticating them. They are easy to maintain, and they are producing well. They don't seem fussy about husbandry or environmental conditions; in fact, they seem to enjoy living in cages, perhaps because in their native habitat they live in the thickest, thorniest bush.

Few people know much about these tiny ruminants that, fully grown, stand only about 30 cm high and weigh a mere four kilos. Reportedly they are wild, nervous, shy, and nocturnal, but Dr Cowan finds that they tame easily and make good house pets. From the day they are caught they can be handled, petted, and even milked, he says.

Duiker meat is much sought after in many African countries, and it is suitably sized to feed an averagesized family at one meal. Under good conditions young blue duikers grow fast and breed fast. The calving interval is a mere eight months.

About 80 other types of duikers are found throughout most of Africa. These little ruminants are shy and rarely seen, but are often kept as pets. In 1977 a Nigerian journal reported that Mawell's duikers can be eaten at age three months when they weigh about four kilos. In one trial they were fed on banana, plantain, and papaya fruits: hibiscus' cassava, and banana leaves; dried maize; and an array of other fruits, leaves, and seeds.

These tiny African antelopes seem like useful microlivestock and others are possible candidates also. The Livingston's suni is one. In addition, hyraxes are African animals that, although being distant relatives of the elephant, are only the size of a dog.

A dwarf pig. Elsewhere in the tropics are found other species possibly suitable for indoor or backyard rearing. In China, Peru, and Mexico hairless dogs were raised for food in centuries past. In parts of Southeast Asia dog is still sometimes surreptitiously eaten. In northern India there is a dwarf pig, the pigmy hog, which is only 25 cm tall when full grown. Unfortunately, it has been hunted to near extinction, but it would seem to have enormous potential as a "kitchen animal" to be raised in the house on table scraps. Also, in Southeast Asia there are dwarf deer, barely bigger than goats, that are fully at home in the heat, humidity, and diseases of the lowland humid tropics. Furthermore, in parts of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, farmers erect special roosts to attract bats, thus providing backyard sources of both food for the table and guano for fertilizer.

And beyond mammals there are underexploited reptiles such as iguanas and other lizards. Iguana meat is so delicious that the animal is being hunted to extinction over much of the Caribbean and Latin America. The Caribbean Marine Biology Station on Cura already has iguana-farming experiments underway.

Pigeons and quail. There are species of birds, such as the pigeon, that will forage widely, and yet live and grow at home providing food for the inhabitants. Pigeons, housed in towering dovecotes in backyards, were once a mainstay of the diet in the Middle East and in Europe. Quail is a small and very efficient bird that is also suited to home rearing.

Snails. Microlivestock can be found among the invertebrates too. Bees and snails are two examples. Edible snails have been raised in small pens in Nigeria, and some of this legless livestock has been shipped to France, where gourmands are wiping out their own populations of escargots. Actually, snail farming has been a backyard occupation in Italy since the days of the Roman Empire.

There are a number of basic reasons for giving more consideration to small animals. Smallness is often an adaptation to heat and to harsh environment. Zoologists have enshrined this in Bergman's Rule: members of a species tend to be smaller in a warmer climate than in a cooler one.

Smallness also helps an animal survive in arid and other marginal areas where forage is limited. For example, in sparse conditions where a pair of small animals barely survive, a single larger animal will likely starve because it cannot hunt the scanty herbs in two places at once. Under such circumstances, it does little good to introduce large-sized breeding stock in an effort to improve the local animals. A more effective approach might actually be to send even smaller specimens so that three animals could graze where two cannot now survive.

Although many of the small species I have mentioned are undomesticated and almost unstudied, given a little attention some of them may prove to be remarkably important. It should be easier to domesticate small animals than large ones. And with most small animals there is little likelihood of transmitting disease or competing for food with conventional domestic stock.

The skills for rearing small animals are easier to learn and less demanding than those for large ones. The starting investment is much less, the economic risks minimal. Also, such small animals make sense when meat cannot be stored because refrigeration is not available. And it is probable that indoor animals could be raised on kitchen scraps and weedy vegetation from the backyard or nearby roadsides.

Time to down-size. Agronomists once considered that the bigger the plant the better, but the green revolution's success with short-statured cereals has led to down-sizing crops: maize, rice, cotton, fruits, trees, and others. Now it is time down-sizing animals and for a similar intense investigation of small animals that are indigenous to the tropics.

For the landless and the small farmers in developing countries animals that can be raised within the home or backyard could be the main source of meat. Raising "main-frame" livestock on pastures who never get meat to the poorest people as effectively as if they raise t own microlivestock on weeds table scraps in cardboard car under their beds.

Indoor animals are a missing of animal science. This level livestock deserves to be explored. We need to select new species, to develop household animal husbandry. It may be an answer to the gross lack of meat in Third World count where today people get less meat in one year than people elsewhere in a month.


Toward a self-sufficient development

Sottosviluppo e L'economia Contemporanea, by Paolo Sylos Labini, i, Laterza, 1983, 250 p., Lit. 11000 Spanish translation: El subdesarrollo y economía contemporánea, Barcelona, Editorial Critica, 1984, 250 p., I Buenos Aires, CLACSO, 1984,) 60 p.

This book is written in the tradition in the classical economists, especially Smith and Ricardo, who studied the historical processes of the transition of static economies and societies into dinamic ones. Although the author declares his point of view to be that of the economist, he studies the problems in a historical light as well, which is the best method of perceiving changes.

As always in development economist, is never clear whether the analysis proposed is a mere interpretation of the actual state of things on whether it contains the essential idees of an economic policy. The transparent ambiguity derives from the fact that "the past and the present to be considered means to achieve the real of the future," as Blaise Pascal would say. Inspired by a grand passion for the possible", Professor Sylos Labini does not shirk this duty. He keeps the past experiences of development constantly before them, and, indeed, the central model of the book indicates implicitly the path to be followed in the future.

His model has two sectors. One sector consists of large productive units characterized by economies scale and comprising such basic productions as electricity, steel, cement, chemicals, heavy machinery, and durable consumer goods. The other sector is made up of industrial activities that can be carried out by medium, small, and even family-size units: food production, commerce, textiles, construction, and some areas of electronics.

The old system of classification that goes back to Colin Clark has finally been surpassed by the author's approach. In 1940 Clark divided the economy into three sectors: agricultural (primary), industrial (secondary), and that of services (tertiary). This differentiation is static and merely descriptive. If, on the other hand, the goal is to pursue a dynamic strategy, it is necessary to identify a "system" or "a complex of productive systems" with a specific aim. Parts of the old tripartite division can be inserted into the system functionally to give it an organic structure and a certain dynamism. For example, an agricultural food-producing system consists first of an agricultural product; second, of a complex of industrial enterprises that transform such products as enter the production process as inputs; and, third, of a marketing network for distribution of the products. In an underdeveloped economy, the industrial structure of which will be embryonic, this approach is more flexible and is easier to put into operation. Thus the author resolves the old problem of whether to favour agriculture or industry and delineates exactly both the goals to be reached and the instruments needed to reach them. Moreover, it is possible also to establish what aspects of the system need to be revamped or even created from scratch in order to make them work.

Constraints and obstacles. To return to the general model proposed by the author, it is necessary to create the conditions under which an adequate supply of essential products might be assured as well as the services that would enable the productive sector to cross the critical threshold and attain a self-sufficient development. There are, however, constraints upon and obstacles to the functioning of these sectors.

The overall constraints are determined by the existing distribution of income, which in turn depends upon the institutions, laws, and economic policy of the country. Income distribution affects the many levels of buying power as well as competition among suppliers The less inequality in the distribution of income, the quicker is the production of consumer goods; the greater the inequality, the slower the supply of consumer goods and the quicker that of nonessential goods.

Three kinds of "spurts" are needed to surpass the obstacles: the market, the entrepreneurial, and the technological. Of the three spurts, the technological is decidedly the most difficult to achieve, but it is also the most significant. In fact, the narrowing of the market can be overcome by exports, and the lack of entrepreneurial capacity can be overcome by means of training and educational choices, which can be carried out within individual countries. The technological spurt can be achieved by means of imported technology which can be largely adapted to the economic needs of the country, provided that the political and social climate is conducive.

In this way the author's analysis defines with extreme precision the boundaries within which the economic policy of developing countries operates. Technical progress is assigned a central role in this approach. In a polemic against those who maintain the importance of endowments of natural resources, the author asserts that it is instead technical progress that is the principal agent of development. Furthermore, technical progress, together with progress in education, permits small enterprises to develop and thus narrows the gap between the three spurts.

Capital-saving. Whenever the problem of technology is discussed it has always been with an eye to both why it is produced and where it comes from. It has, in fact, been maintained that since technology is an invention of the advanced countries, and thus labour-saving, it is unsuitable for countries of the Third World. However, analysis of the actual processes of development reveals the possibility of adapting technology to the needs of the Third World and thus belies the traditional wisdom. Pasinetti has recently gone even further. He has stated that "technical progress is ultimately revealed to be a diminution of labour inputs. To put it in another way, all technical progress is, in the end, labour-saving. In a production system, saving labour is the ultimate meaning of technical progress" (Structural Change and Economic Growth, Cambridge, 1981, p.207). Moreover, the history of technology shows that labour-saving or capital-intensive technologies, by constantly adapting and perfecting, tend to become capital-saving.

The author's analysis goes back through the progress achieved by the developing countries in the last 30 years in all areas. He highlights the place the newly industrializing countries (NlCs) have taken in international commerce through exporting manufactured goods. He maintains that this phenomenon is not limited, that in fact both the share of international commerce and the number of countries exporting manufactured goods are bound to increase. The latest OECD data, published too late for the author to take them into consideration, confirm that his intuition was fully justified. The dynamism of these countries is thrown into high relief also by the fact that many of them have become exporters of technology and that there now exist multinational enterprises originating in Third World countries.

Given this formulation, which reveals the mastery with which the author fuses microeconomic and macroeconomic analysis, it would have been very useful if he had gone more deeply into the role that small enterprises play in the processes of industrialization; with the development of this theme would have come a study of the new entrepreneurship, both private and public, which has up to now been greatly undervalued.

A high degree of freedom. But the author is biased in favour of large enterprises, which, in his own words, being able to exploit economies of scale, are better than small ones. He does not deny the importance of small enterprises, but assigns them an ancillary role.

This limitation does not obscure the importance of the results that the author obtains. They can be synthesized like this: despite international constraints, the developing countries have a high degree of freedom that allows them to set off autonomous processes of development. These conclusions allow us to explain the variation in the rates of growth among the several developing countries. The reasons should not be sought on the outside, as has often been maintained, but on the inside, that is, in the political and administrative organization of the governments. These, according to Professor Sylos Labini, ought to promote four fundamental reforms to give the process of development an organic character: reform of public administration, agrarian reform, fiscal reform and, last but not least, educational reform.

It emerges clearly from Professor Sylos Labini's analysis that the economic prospects of the Third World are not as bleak as they were until a few years ago, but there is still a great deal to do. He dedicates two incisive chapters to world hunger and satisfaction of basic needs, problems for which facile optimism is unsuitable in a world that lives with the nightmare threat of nuclear holocaust. But he rightly remembers that "the alternative to the optimism of Pangloss and to illusions is neither desperation nor resignation: it is a measured and constructive pessimism". These conclusions call to mind a thought of Kafka: "Do not despair... new energies always arrive." The merit of this book is to have given us a clear and passionate framework for the new energies that are emerging in the Third World. It is a fertile outcome because it shows the way to newer, greener paths to explore.

Books in brief

Technical progress

Gene F. Summers (ed.) Technology and Social Change in rural Areas A Festschrift for Eugene A. Wilkening Westview Press, Boulder, 1983, 266 p., $ 34.50

The authors of this book have used the history of technological innovations which have profoundly altered rural societies since the Second World War as the vehicle for the organization and flow of the book.

The book is composed of four sets of essays: adoption and diffusion of technological innovation in agriculture; influence of technology on patterns of living and the quality of life in rural areas; possibilities of moulding the technology to fit existing institutional arrangements and the supply of factor inputs, capital, and labour.

Among the contributions we mention those written by Dorner and Butter, who examine the US experience, and by Newby and Galeski, who focus on the "agrarian question" in European settings.

Moreover, in the interesting final essay of the volume Thiesenhusen relates the concept of appropriate technology to the adoption and diffusion of US agricultural technology in less developed countries.

Summers is Professor of Rural Sociology at the University of Wisconsin.

Agricultural development

Eric Clayton - Agriculture, Poverty and Freedom in Developing Countries Macmillan, London, 1983, 278 P., 15 pounds sterling

This volume is a critical review of current objectives and strategies for agricultural development in the less developed countries at policy, project, and farm level. It makes explicit the political basis of various development objectives put forward by scholars, planners, and donor agencies. It then analyses these objectives in relation to the development needs of peasant farm families.

The implementation of effective agricultural policies requires a close understanding of how farmers make decisions and how farm families behave.

The problems of encouraging development by means of agricultural investment projects are considered, and guidelines and recommendations are proposed for the design and operation of monitoring systems for agricultural development projects.

Clayton is head of the Agrarian Development Unit at Wye College, University of London.

International affairs

Giuseppe Schiavone: International Organizations: A Dictionary and Directory Macmillan, London, 1983, 320 p., 25 pounds sterling

This dictionary is a comprehensive guide to the field of international organizations. The introductory essay contains a brief survey of their historical development. The main body of the book contains alphabetically arranged descriptions of a large number of organizations - from the United Nations to specialized agencies and regional institutions in Europe, North and South America, the Near East, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific.

For each agency there is an analysis of objectives, functions, and powers, classes and conditions of membership, acts, institutional structure, and external relations. Next comes an account of the organization's work and an assessment of its role and perspectives in its particular field of activity.

A list of basic references and a list of publications is appended to each entry. Addresses and principal officers of each organization are also listed.

Schiavone is professor of International Organizations at the University of Catania, Italy.

Labour force

Subbiah Kannappan Employment Problems and the Urban Labor Market in Developing Nations Division of Research, University of Michigan Graduate School of Business Administration, Ann Arbor, 1983, 294 p., $ 12

The growth of the urban labour force has been particularly rapid over the last few decades. Dr. Kannappan offers a comparative perspective on the problems of labour and employment in urban areas of development.

He has departed from the dualistic analyses found in the prevailing literature; as an alternative to "polarizing" models which describe "modern" sectors competing with traditional sectors, he maintains that the patterns of economic growth spring from a complete interaction of the two sectors. He shows how the overlooked "entrepreneurial" segment of the urban labour force is a potent channel for the diffusion of modern technology and capital.

Kannappan has been a consultant for several international organizations and has taught at MIT.


More manageable aid for Africa

Reports on the food crisis that is afflicting two dozen African countries continue to be alarming. Many areas face the third consecutive year of poor harvests. Requirements for emergency food aid are likely to grow in the next few months, and a foremost concern of the international aid community will rightly be the need for urgent action to reduce human suffering.

At the same time, there is a growing preoccupation, both within the affected countries and in the international community at large, with the need for longer-term measures designed to reverse the decline in Africa's agricultural productivity. The trend, which has gone on for more than a decade, can by no means be attributed entirely to unfavourable climatic conditions. Unquestionably, much remains to be accomplished in the field of agricultural research: in the development of better farming systems for rainfed crops, in enhancing the livestock carrying capacity of grazing lands, in breeding improved varieties of traditional African food crops. It is essential at the same time to strengthen national extension networks so that the results of research are available to producers.

The investment implications arising from all this are sizeable. To attain growth rates in agricultural production surpassing four per cent annually in the second half of the present decade (which would be triple the 1970s level) would, according to the FAO Regional Food Plan for Africa, involve a total investment of $125 billion over 15 years. This was acknowledged as an extremely optimistic scenario, dependent, among other things, upon a high degree of government and external support

There is growing evidence that African leaders and potential aid donors alike are giving more consideration not just to the levels of financial support but also to the policy frame work within which agricultural development programmes must be implemented. Thus, for example, Zimbabwe's Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Mr B. Chidzero, referred to the economic crisis in Third World countries in an address last year, declaring that "it is not all attributable to the high rise in oil prices of the mid-seventies, nor to the high interest rates, nor to the decline in commodity prices generally.... I also suspect that wrong national agricultural policies have had their share in the tragic tale."

A similar view was reflected three years ago in a World Bank report, Accelerated Development in Sub-Saharan Africa: An Agenda for Action. For most of the previous decade, the report said, prices of food crops had been set at below market levels while production of export crops was heavily taxed - all this despite lip service to the ideal of strong producer incentives.

One probable result of the stronger emphasis on producer incentives will be a closer linkage between the levels of external assistance actually made available and the effective application of national policy reform measures. The basic objectives of such an approach appear to fit comfortably with widely held views as to the underlying causes of agricultural stagnation in Africa. But the approach itself touches upon another question of concern to both national governments and external aid agencies: the impact of increasingly diverse and complex aid patterns on the usually overburdened administrative machinery of many African states. Aid inflows to Africa have been growing at nearly 20 per cent annually over the past decade an, there has been a corresponding diversification of aid sources, often exhibiting markedly differing priorities, policies and procedures. Recipient governments are faced With the difficult task of matching the formulation of more rational national policies to the welter of pragmatic considerations involved in maintaining the overall aid inflow from a variety of sources.

Clearly, sovereign states in need of external assistance will want to retain as far as possible their freedom to manoeuvre and to choose among assistance programmes; just as clearly many donors may, for domestic reasons, increasingly attach condition to much of their development assistance funding. That said, the overriding urgency of achieving a revitalization of Africa's agriculture make imperative the maximum amount of support from all governments and agencies concerned for well-coordinated aid programmes that reduce as far as possible the risks of counterproductive and wasteful effort.

Finally, it should go without saying that the concern with these long-term problems and development issue should not become an obsession the distracts attention from the immediate need for more aid to save human beings living today on the verge of extinction by famine.