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close this bookSPORE Bulletin of the CTA No. 20 (CTA Spore, 1989, 16 p.)
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View the documentTrade frontiers & the birth rate three universal preconceptions
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View the documentFruit Bats are not Pests
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Trade frontiers & the birth rate three universal preconceptions

Jean H. Guilmette, who has just taken over as Director of the Club du Sahel, is a man who has made development the vocation. He is a French-speaking Canadian and a sociologist specialising in the administration of development programmes He was policy and planning director of ACDI, but his main work has been in the field, in Asia and Africa.

As he was taking up the reins at the Club du Sahel, he spoke to SPORE about his policies and the principles which will govern his period of office there. His predecessor, Anne de Laure, certainly made her mark on the Club, and here Mr Guilmette gives us a glimpse of how he sees things, and knocks down a few preconceptions at the same time.

Trade has been judged and sentenced after too perfunctory a trial. The Sahel is a free trade area, very much de facto instead of by design. Research carried out by the Club du Sahel jointly with IRAM, has shown that an enormous amount of unofficial trading must be added on to the official figures. We are used to seeing old colonial borders as very artificial, as a handicap, and even perhaps as an excuse for poor economic performance.

But is this really so? As far as the economy goes, the inflexible national boundaries have been by-passed by the native population, who are themselves generally of the same race, and who though divided by a frontier- have preserved the old family networks. Any mistakes in economic policy have been offset by this huge cross-border trade. If the frontiers had followed ethnic territorial divisions, the borders would have become war zones instead of flourishing trading areas.

Why be afraid of profit?

Understanding this had led me to ponder the reasons why we have to underestimate the importance of the role of trade in development: can it have been the craze for economic nationalism or our deep distrust of profit? Trade has been a taboo subject for far too long in the eyes of those who administer aid. But market forces prevent state opposition to change becoming a permanent factor. Trade helps overturn the established order, acts as check and balance to the powers-that be, and contributes to the transfer of technology and knowledge - a point which should not be overlooked.

The answers to these problems are not to be found in trade embargoes, the search for price stabilisation, or the imposition of production quotas, which all tend to lessen an acceptance of competition rather than stimulate it- but in the on-going training of peasants and, in research and development of more effective agricultural practices and products.

I've also been reflecting on the generally accepted analysis of the population problem, an analysis which seems to me to be false

A French economist thought about the following paradox: why does the birth of a calf increase the GDP, but that of a child reduce it? Is a human being really worth less than a calf? This paradox makes even less sense to me as today's wealth seems to be less and less materially based and more and more oriented towards human values. It is Man who endows things with their value, their use, and transforms the most ordinary things into riches. After all, a computer is only a bit of silicon, just sand arranged by the human mind. Who could have forseen that sand - one of the most common commodities on earth - could be invested with such power in the hands of mankind?

In most of the southern countries young people come onto the labour market in their millions every day. The cry goes up all the time to adopt policies which would reduce the birthrate, but those other voices which offer concrete and humane proposals to give the youth of the Third World a chance to work and tap into the available wealth are seldom heard.

Ultimately the financial aid channelled into development is much too small, especially taking into account the flow of trade and capital which is never to the advantage of the poorest countries.

A dialogue of the deaf

It has to be admitted that the representatives of the affluent countries usually turn a deaf ear to the pleas of their counterparts who constantly request an increase in aid. On the other hand, our friends in the Third World have done little to bring home to their own populations the likely consequences of unchecked demographic growth; and few of them have faced up to the predictable crises which are the result of this head-in-the-sand attitude. CILSS and the Club du Sahel have just completed a predictive study identifying the crises which can be expected. All credit must go to the Sahelians for having been the first to risk such a study But the real test is what they will make of it.

The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily those of CTA.

Training Documentalists in the Caribbean

As part of its overall mission to strengthen ACP national and regional information and documentation centres, CTA has set up a series of training courses on sources of agricultural information. In 1988 the third course took place in the Caribbean, in conjunction with CARDI (the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute), in Trinidad.

The course, from November 21 to December 3, aimed to develop national and regional capabilities for the improved dissemination of information by adopting a specific regional approach The main focus was the identification and availability of agricultural information for the users - these being primarily the information officers, librarians, and documentalists in the anglophone Caribbean ACP countries.

The principal objectives of the course were to acquaint participants with appropriate sources of information on tropical agriculture, to provide the training necessary to exploit these sources and to promote techniques relevant to local requirements and conditions in information networking.

There were important secondary objectives also: to help the 27 participants obtain a better understanding of the information needs of the end-users: to assist them in analyzing the problems they face in their work; and to gear them to formulating programmes or activities to solve these problems. Throughout the course the participants were set to work solving these - their own problems.

The course was divided into three sections. In the first, each participant introduced himself and his particular situation by means of a country report. This highlighted problems common to the region, helped the course organisers to orient the course from one anothers situations, problems and solutions.

The second part of the course concentrated on how to find the bibliographic and nonbibliographic sources of information relevant to the region. Dr S. Parasram gave an overview of the agricultural literature in the Caribbean, and S. Keenan introduced potential end-user problems and suggested how to identify end-user needs. There followed practical sessions and lectures, including a presentation by CTA's Thiendou Niann on directories.

Participants worked on three special projects tailored to the course to give them a better working knowledge of the region's resources, and the first week closed with project reports.

The second week started with a consideration of non-bibliographical source of information - personal contacts and resource persons, and the role of information officers as intermediaries between the producers and consumers of information. This aims to clear up an any misconception that documentalists are merely passive providers of information

A. Lebowitz introduced the AGRIS/CARIS system (see SPORE 19), and Thiendou Niang outlined CTA's own information services

The final part of the second section was given over to a study of the use of computers based on bibliographic services, and a resume of secondary services - abstracts and bibliographies.

The third part of the course was devoted to document delivery, including Library planning within the context of universal availability, Union Catalogue vis-a-vis document delivery, library acquisitions and inter-library loan and photocopy services in the Caribbean. A discussion of networking rounded off the course

After the formal training part of the course there was a three-level evaluation - by participants, lecturers, and the coordinator - of the content, materials, lecturers and organisation of the course. This was carried out by means of a questionnaire and a round-table discussion

At the end the follow-up strategies suggested by those involved included more training on the CAGRIS database, on-site training in a library, a follow-up course two years on to see what has been accomplished, and reports to be submitted on information systems. In the meantime, the network established at the course was to be maintained

Other suggestions were the mounting of a course on the management of agricultural information systems at institutional, regional and national levels and addressing the problems identified in the initial country reports by providing assistance such as training at local level. This would include helping library associations with marketing strategies (how to sell themselves to the public and impress finance ministries which supply funding).

Finally, a truly cooperative relationship between libraries, CAGRIS, and CTA was to be pursued.

The composition of foods commonly eaten in E.Africa


While vitamin A deficiency in Tanzania was being investigated by the Department of Human Nutrition at Wageningen Agricultural University, in conjunction with the Tanzanian Food and Nutrition Centre, the necessity of a project which would collect data on food composition became clear.

The result was The Composition of Foods commonly eaten in East Africa, published jointly by CTA and ESCA (a programme of cooperation between countries of East, Central, and Southern Africa in which issues related to food and nutrition are discussed, planned and implemented).

The book gives information in tabular form on the composition of the most common foods consumed in the region, including the amino acid content, macronutrients, minerals and vitamins. There is an index of foods with English, Kiswahili and scientific names.

This book will be useful in nutrition research and applied nutrition projects. Since the analysis of the composition of dietary intake is made much easier by the use of computers, a chapter is devoted to the MicroNap database access software developed by the University of Manitoba for the analysis of food consumption for community nutrition surveys and clinical research studies.

The Composition of Foods Commonly Eaten in East Africa, ISBN 90-72407-105 Copies and further information available from Dr E.C. West

Department of Human Nutrition

Wageningen Agricultural University

De Dreijen 12 6307 BC Wageningen


Dr T.N Maletulema

ECSA Provisional Nutrition Coordinator

Tanzanian Food and Nutrition Centre

PO Box 977

Dar es Salaam


Proceedings of AFAA

Sixth General