|CERES No. 072 (FAO Ceres, 1979, 50 p.)|
Based on distorted facts
The article "The counter-reform bloc" by Ernest Feder (ceres No. 68) is full of judgements based on incorrect or distorted facts. The most striking example is his presentation of McNamara's statement on land reform. Feder writes that McNamara in his Nairobi address (1973) gives to land reform only "an ephemeral role" devoting to this problem not more than "10 lines, plus a few ornamental comments, to this delicate subject..." In saying this, Feder suppresses the core of the aforementioned Nairobi address, which in fact reads as follows:
"But there are other structural changes necessary as well. And the most urgent among these is land and tenancy reform. Legislation dealing with such reform has been passed - or at least been promised - in virtually every developing country. But the rhetoric of these laws has far outdistanced their results. They have produced little redistribution of land, little improvement in the security of the tenant, and little consolidation of small holdings.
"That is extremely regrettable. No one can pretend that genuine land and tenancy reform is easy. It is hardly surprising that members of the political power structure, who own large holdings, should resist reform. But the real issue is not whether land reform is politically easy. The real issue is whether indefinite procrastination is politically prudent. An increasingly inequitable situation will pose a growing threat to political stability.
"But land and tenancy reform programs - involving reasonable land ceilings, just compensation, sensible tenancy security, and adequate incentives for land consolidation - are possible. What they require are sound policies, translated into strong laws which are neither enervated by exceptions nor riddled by loopholes. And most important of all, the laws have to incorporate effective sanctions, and be vigorously and impartially enforced.
"What we must recognize is that land reform is not exclusively about land. It is about the uses - and abuses - of power, and the social structure through which it is exercised."
Otto K. Matzke
Reflects broad ideas
My compliments to you on a very well-organized and widely presented March-April issue. Your choice of opinions reflects broad ideas of the world today.
More information needed
The article "Conventional crops imperil good protein" (ceres No. 68, p. 4) makes a very important point: we tend increasingly to restrict the number of species on which we depend for food. There are, however, some defects in the article that should be corrected, and some points that deserve fuller discussion.
The figures for the percentage of protein are said to be on the dry matter. That is as it should be: many misapprehensions are caused when crops that are normally weighed wet are compared with dry seed crops. The values given for cassava and yam are reasonable, but no one ever grew a potato or a sweet potato with only 2 percent protein on the dry matter. Wet weight figures must have intruded here.
Many legume tubers are probably excellent sources of protein and they should be more widely used. Nevertheless, we need more information about the nature of the nitrogen in them. "Crude protein" figures may be misleading because part of the nitrogen on which the "crude protein" figure is based is non-protein nitrogen which may be useless, or even harmful. Until more is known about the true protein content, it would be unwise to eat these tubers regularly on as large a scale as is usual with potatoes.
Nearly four years ago, I had given up reading ceres because I did not think the articles were informative, objective or useful. However, recently I had an opportunity to read the last few issues, and I must say that the magazine has improved tremendously.
l would like to congratulate you for the quality of the recent issues. Keep up the good work!
Asit K. Biswas