|CERES No. 091 - January - February 1983 (FAO Ceres, 1983, 50 p.)|
NEW RICE SYSTEM SAVES FOREIGN EXCHANGE
A new system of rainfed rice production based on short duration varieties is one of the major achievements of a UNDP/FAO project begun in 1976 on the islands of Zanzibar and Temba, Tanzania. By permitting February/March rather than December/January plantings, the new varieties escape a period of severe drought and weed competition and eliminate an estimated 250 man-days per ha of weeding during the growing season. The aim is to help smallholder peasants, who account for most of the islands' agricultural production, to reverse a growing gap between a rice consumption and output that was threatening to offset an increasing proportion of the 25 million U.S. dollars earned annually in foreign exchange through the traditional exports of cloves and copra. A residual benefit of the project has been a number of associated activities financed or supported by other agencies: irrigated rice development by the United Nations Capital Development Fund, improved rice husbandry techniques by the African Development Fund, World Food Programme rations for workers engaged in land levelling and canal construction, and Canadian International Development Agency funding for land preparation required for FAO varietal testing.
SAVING SOIL ETHIOPIA
The benefits of soil and water conservation are seldom immediately obvious to the uninitiated, but the clearer water and the prolonged flow of some of the streams in Ethiopia's central plateau are being read as a signal that the Government's nationwide programme to arrest soil degradation, begun in 1977 with UNDP/FAO assistance, is beginning to yield tangible results. Better crops in some of the affected areas are attributed to the reduction in run-off and soil erosion. The basic strategy for reclamation of the plateau, where most of Ethiopia's livestock and arable land are concentrated and where annual topsoil losses have been estimated at two billion tons annually, is to develop an agroforestry production system that will restore environmental stability in this important catchment area while enhancing crop, livestock and forestry production. This overall development strategy has support, besides that of UNDP/FAO, from the World Bank, the African Development Bank, other UN bodies and both bilateral and multilateral aid programmes.
RESTORATION OF A SWINE INDUSTRY
With help from FAO's Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP), Sao Tome and Principe is gradually rebuilding the islands' swine industry, which was wiped out by an epidemic of Africa, Swine Fever in 1979. A foundation breeding herd of 140 sows and 10 boars of "Large White" strain has been introduced, a number that will be doubled by 1984, providing, it is hoped, for an off-take of 4 000 animals per year, which should provide about 4 kg of pork products per caput per year for the republic's 86 000 population.
NEW TACTICS AGAINST COTTON PEST
An operational integrated pest control scheme for the Sudan's whitefly-plagued cotton fields is evolving from a succession of FAO projects aimed at developing alternatives to chemical treatment. The whitefly (Bemesia tabaci) is considered the main culprit in the steady decline of cotton yields from an average of 1.6 ton/ha in 1950-55 to 1.0 ton in 1975-81 despite an increase in the average number of sprayings from three per season in 1964-65 to eight in 1980-81. Today, pest control inputs account for about one-third of all cotton production costs in the Sudan. The current project, initiated under the FAO-UNEP programme for the development and application of integrated pest control, has involved Sudan's Agricultural Research Corporation as well as external financing from the Dutch Government. In its first phase, the project has concentrated on breeding cotton cultivars resistant to whitefly. Promising results have already been obtained though research will have to be continued for several years. Biological studies on the whitefly have also led to better utilization of the pest's natural parasites and have permitted more selective use of pesticides resulting in lower costs for pest control.
TUNISIAN VITICULTURE UPGRADED
The Tunisian Government's scheme for revitalizing the country's wine and grape industry has been receiving technical assistance from UNDP/FAO since 1978. During that period more than 70 new varieties have been imported from France and Italy with a view to improving the quality of table grapes as well as grapes for wine production. Several varieties have been tested in southern Tunisia both as table grapes and as foliage for feeding livestock, with "very encouraging" results. Several demonstration plots have been established for testing varieties. An experimental unit for grape juice production has been set up at Mornag, near Tunis, where an old wine cellar has also been modernized to provide an improved quality product. More than 1 000 labourers have been trained in vineyard practices and 15 engineers and technicians have received additional training abroad. Tunisia's vineyards provide a livelihood for 67 000 people, and its wine exports normally account for more than a quarter of all agricultural exports.
GRENADA MOVES ON CONSERVATION
The results of a UNDP/FAO pilot project in soil and water conservation measures suited to Grenada's rough and steeply sloping cropland has encouraged Government authorities to plan for similar schemes in 94 other small watersheds with a view to improved fruit and vegetable production.
PRICE POLICY STUDY GAINS APPROVAL
A proposal by FAO Director-General Edouard Saouma to undertake a study of agricultural price policies and their relationship to agricultural production, food consumption and trade was endorsed by the FAO Council, which concluded its 82nd session in December. Similarly endorsed was Saouma's planned reappraisal of the entire concept of world food security and FAO's role in the matter. The Council agreed that world food security considerations should include access to markets and price stabilization measures so as to enable developing countries to attain more stable patterns of growth in their export earnings. In related action, the Council approved the establishment of a Regional Commission on Food Security for Asia and the Pacifc to assist nations of the region with food security programmes. The Council recommended to the next FAO Conference in November 1983 the admission of two new member states: Antigua and Barbuda, and Belize.
FAO Director-General Saouma announced the appointment of Raymond S. Lignon, a national of France, as Assistant Director-General, Development Department. Mr. Lignon, previously Secretary-General of the Centre International des Hautes Etudes Agronomiques Mediterraneennes in Paris, has had a long association with the work of FAO and other UN specialized agencies.