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Cerescope

Debt crisis threatens US farm exports to Third World

Some of the most anxious observers of the ongoing negotiations between governments of debt-burdened developing countries and officials of the international banks and financial institutions are to be found in the agricultural sector of the United States. Depending on the strategies selected in an effort to alleviate the debt crisis, US agriculture could stand to lose as much as $7 billion annually in potential sales by 1987.

The concern that austerity measures could have detrimental effects upon the export markets of the world's largest agricultural exporter has been voiced by a number of US Department of Agriculture economists in a recent issue of Foreign Agriculture, a USDA publication that describes itself as "the magazine for business firms selling US farm products overseas". In one of a series of articles dealing with the implications of Third World debt for US agriculture, economists Mathew D Shane and David Stallings point out that many of the United States' biggest markets in the developing world are among those countries that are deepest in debt. The degree to which US agricultural prosperity as become interlinked with that of the developing world is revealed in USDA statistics which show that since 1970 agricultural purchases by developing countries have increased from $2.2 billion to an estimated $15.5 billion in fiscal 1984.

It is calculated that about 20 per cent of the US acreage is now committed to producing for Third World markets.

Shane and Stallings have calculated that if developing countries were permitted to borrow freely to finance the imports that they require and to cover their accrued interest payments their economies, based on historical trends, would continue to grow at about six per cent a year through 1987. For US agriculture, such a level of growth would imply a parallel expansion of export markets in the Third World of approximately 8.5 per cent annually. The catch to this, the authors point out, is that such a growth rate in the developing world would imply a debt build-up from 1982's approximately $700 billion to more than four times that amount by 1987. If no financial constraints were imposed on Third World countries, US agricultural exports to the Third World could reach a level of $21 billion by 1987, again based on historical trends.

However, if developing countries were forced to make adjustments in balancing their payments with their earnings, their economic growth through 1987 would probably average about 2.5 per cent a year, which would bring about a corresponding reduction in US agricultural export growth to about 3.6 per cent annually. If such a full adjustment was made on the part of developing countries, US sales by 19B7 could be as low as $14 billion a year. With a partial "one-third" adjustment, sales were projected to be about $17 billion a year.

The importance of foreign markets to US agriculture is predicated upon the assumption that the domestic market for the next two or three decades will grow at less than one per cent a year, much less than the expansion of productive capacity in US agriculture. In 1983 developing countries bought nearly $14 billion worth of US farm output, or roughly 40 per cent of total farm exports. They accounted for more than half the wheat and 60 per cent of the rice exported from the United States. As a group, Third World countries bought more US agricultural products than Western Europe and Japan combined.

Granary styles as a reflection of culture, climate

The first thing that strikes the observer of grain storage across the tropics, is the variety of forms and materials of peasant granaries. Many of these granaries are made of materials from plants.

From the palm-leaf turrets of Bali to the reed huts of southwest Mexico and straw baskets of the Sahel, one can say that the gamut of plantmaterial granaries is infinite. It depends on climate and topography, on local vegetation, types of grain collected, and styles of living and eating of the populations. It is, however, possible to classify them according to dry and wet regions, plains, forests, and high plateaux.

In arid or semi-arid zones, the walls of granaries are often made of straw woven into mats. An example is the seccos of the African Sahel, woven with tall grasses such as andropogon. These mats are assembled with ties of fibres, creepers, or barks, to form baskets in the shape of a cylinder, egg, or inverted cone. A screen of branches generally supports the body of the granary and the whole thing is kept above the ground by supports of wood or piles of stones.

Sometimes the straw is replaced by harder reeds which are woven, like a wicker cage, around a strong wooden armature. Belts of coiled reed hold the body of the granary and reinforce the base, which can rest directly on the ground. When the harvest is put in—millet or sorghum, maize or rice, often in bundles or on the ear—the granary is generally closed by a straw or thatch lid, tightly fastened on.

In wet zones, other precautions have to be taken to ensure good preservation. The grain must be protected not only from rodents and insects, birds, and goats, but more especially from violent rains and floods. The thatch covering or palm leaves and the elevated platform become more important really than the walls. The granary, often quadrangular, resembles an open shelter or a lattice-work hut. That is how ears of sertao are preserved in Brazil or maize in the Mexican highlands.

The manufacture of granaries is a principal activity of the inactive season in agriculture, which often coincides with the dry period. In fact, materials collected in marshy terrain need time to dry out. Often it is the women who collect tall grasses and reeds and bring them back in bundles on their heads. In the forest or wooded savannah, it is the men who cut the bamboo and palm leaves. Then comes the weaving of the mats, which are rolled up and carefully guarded until use.

Some of these jobs are more elaborate, such as the woven granaries of Rwanda pr the north of the Ivory Coast, which are masterpieces of wickerwork. Others are harder to make, since they require big pieces of wood for the posts and frame, such as the huts on piling of the humid forests or easily flooded areas.

The advantages of light structures, such as those made of mats, is that they can be moved easily. Their use is therefore flexible and varied. Thus, in the arid Sahel, it is usual to bring seccos into the fields to install there small provisional granaries, where the grain will finish drying. Some remain there longer, if they are sufficiently hidden from prying eyes. The seccos that are recovered are used for the repair of other granaries. These light structures are in fact more resistant and collapse easily when they are empty, which is why they should be replaced after three or four years. But the greatest danger to straw granaries is fire, since cooking is done outdoors in wood fires and a little wind is enough to make twigs catch fire. That is why granaries are frequently kept at a distance from habitations.

In wet regions, on the contrary, one tries to take advantage of domestic fires to keep the grain dry and to use the smoke to keep insects away. In fact, in subtropical or equatorial forests, the granary is sometimes taken for the habitation. There is also a tight relationship between habitat and food reserves, and the location of the granary is important. The placement is governed by practice onsiderations: conditions of drying, facility of access, risk of fire or theft. But it also depends on socio cultural at is religious, reasons. Thus, in certain African societies, one has to be careful to distinguish collective granaes of the family from the personal granaries of each woman. Sometimes the granary in the middle of the interior court or house symbolizes the fecundity of nature and recalls the tutelary presence of ancestors.

At first sight, the dimensions of granaries are as different as their shapes, and their capacities are very difficult to evaluate. In fact, things are simpler than that. It is apparent, on close examination, that there is a consistent relationship between the volumes of the granaries and the needs for consumption. Thus a study in a Mossi village of the Sahel has shown that secco granaries have, on average, a capacity of 2 m3, corresponding to nearly 400 kg of grain-equivalent (since they usually contain ears). That means that such a granary contains the average annual ration, in millet or sorghum, of two adults of the region, or of one adult and two children. Clearly these small producers know very well the number of granaries they will need to feed their family, and will have the wisdom to divide the stock to control both shares and preservation.

It is a question, in fact, of the granary's assuring good preservation of harvests and seeds, which is its major function. The first condition is that grain or ears be sufficiently dry (less than 13 per cent humidity). In arid zones, that poses few problems. The plant-material granary allows heat and wind to penetrate, which keeps the grain dry and moderates the temperatures of the stock. In wet zones, greater ventilation is necessary, which is why the shelters are often up on pilings and open, or contain many doors and windows.

The efficacity of preservation in traditional granaries has long been discussed and often questioned. That is to take little notice of the ingeniousness, experience, and even interest of small peasants. The numerous studies of the last 10 years, notably in the Sahelian countries but also in the humid regions of rice-growing Asia, have confirmed what earlier reports indicated about the technical efficacity of village granaries. thus, different inquiries on traditional storage in the Sahel agree in their conclusions that the physical losses are not greater, on average, than three or four per cent per year.

The openings, for filling the granary and removing the grain, are also very diverse. Their form and size depend in particular on the duration of the storage. Rice or maize, which dries provisorily under shelter before being deposited in sacks in the home, does not need to be tightly closed. On the other hand, the millet or sorghum granary will remain tightly closed until the day when it is re-opened.

Thus the granary has its place in an ecological (micro-)system and its essential role in the life and civilization of a small society.

Pea's wild cousin holds promise as human food source

A few decades ago the narrow leafed lupine was a little known wild plant with a seed considered worthless. Today Western Australian farmers have planted more than 500 000 hectares of this legume, and shiploads of lupin seed regularly leave Australian ports for markets in Europe. Last year production totaled 500 000 metric tons, a substantial quantity for a new and virtually unknown crop.

Lupin seeds currently are used in rations for poultry, pigs, sheep, and cattle, but it seems likely that they will also become an important food for humans. They look like smooth white peas and taste like the split peas widely used in soups. The narrow leafed lupin could become the first major field crop domesticated for food in modern times.

A distant cousin of peas, beans, soybeans, and groundnuts, the narrowleafed lupin (Lupinus angustifolius) is a legume native to the Mediterranean basin, where it is mainly a wildflower. It is a different species from the main lupine grown in eastern Europe and has not been widely used before because it contains alkaloids, which taste bitter. Non-bitter types with soft seed coats (for quick and uniform germination) were discovered in Germany in the 1920s but had been used only as a minor forage crop. Beginning in the mid-1950s, John S. Gladstones, an Australian scientist, sorted through these "sweet" varieties looking for the rare characteristics to make the narrowleaf lupin into a food crop. Painstakingly checking millions of plants during a period of 20 years he eventually found types with white flowers and white seeds {useful as genetic markers because the bitter types are blueflowered and dark-seeded), types with non-shattering pods that hold onto their seed so it does not fall wastefully to the ground, and types that mature so early they set their seed before Western Australia's sporadic summer droughts can shrivel them up. By combining all these characteristics, he produced the first sweet-lupin varieties suitable as a large-scale food crop.

Initial enthusiasm for the crop came from the "Sandplain Country" near Geraidton on the Western Australian coast. It proved to grow well in the poor sandy soils where other legumes barely survive. Farming there carries high risks of economic failure, of destruction of the land, and even of desertification: the winter rains are unpredictable and occasionally fail, and cyclonic winds periodically carry off devastating amounts of exposed top soil.

For decades the Sandplain Country, despite its Mediterranean climate, could support only a sort of shifting cultivation. After a crop of wheat or barley, the land had to be returned to (lovv-srade) pasture and left for years to regenerate.

In the 1960s, a modern farming system, continuous cereal cropping with high applications of fertilizer and trace minerals, was initiated. At first this showed promise, but after a few years both wheat and barley yields declined because of reduced soil fertility, a build-up of root diseases, and compaction in the sand beneath the soil surface.

Then in the 1970s came Gladstones' new crop. The narrowleaf lupin proved to grow well in the poor sandy soils where other legumes could barely survive. It provided a way to overcome the environmental problems, as well as the threat of desertification. Indeed, it has created a safe, sustainable agricultural system in the Sandplain Country.

In the last few years lupin yields around Geraldton have considerably exceeded those of cereals-commonly 1.6 tons per hectare, compared with wheat at 0.7 tons per hectare. But, more important, wheat and barley farmers find that it provides useful fringe benefits:

- It can be sown and harvested earlier than cereals, so that more area can be cropped without more machinery.

- Nitrogen-fixing bacteria colonize its roots in massive nodules and provide it with nitrogen, so that it grows satisfactorily without nitrogenous fertilizer and provides subsequent crops with nutrients that would otherwise have to come from expensive fertilizer.

- It has a vigorous taproot—almost like that of a tree—and can "punch" through hardpan, improving drainage and tapping into moisture that other crops cannot reach. ( Researchers digging beneath the plants have found that the roots can penetrate as deep as four metres.)

- Perhaps most important, it is a disease-clearing crop. It reduces fungi and nematodes that infect cereals and survive between cereal-growing seasons by sheltering in the soil. For example, one Year of lupin cultivation reduces the outbreak of the serious wheat disease called "take-all" from the subsequent wheat crop.

- As a final fringe benefit, farmers find that after harvesting the seed they can raise sheep on the stubble that remain standing in the fields. This improves ewe nutrition at mating time and makes for fast-growing lambs during summer.

For the immediate future, narrowleaf lupin seed will probably continue to be sold only for livestock feeds. After that it could also become a human food. Eventually its major market is likely to be the fortification of foods made from cereals and root crops. In 1980 the Western Australian government approved the use of lupin flour in baked goods such as bread, cakes, pastry, and biscuits. Incorporating 10 to 20 per cent lupin flour boosts their nutritional quality and produces satisfactory loaves of bread.

Lupin flour can also be used as an extender for beef, poultry meats, and fish pastes; small quantities have already been used in canned goods. Moreover, some Japanese companies have produced "bean sprouts" from lupine; Indonesians have made tempe, and Korean researchers are testing lupine in their own traditional foods.

Narrowleaf lupin seeds have too little oil-five to seven per cent—to extract commercially. Although this means that the crop is not an oilseed, the oil present boosts the energy value of lupin seedmeal over that of solvent-extracted seedmeals.

In high and medium rainfall areas, lupinosis, a disease that kills sheep grazing lupin stubbles, is a worrisome concern of lupin growers. It occurs sporadically when wet weather encourages a toxic fungus to grow on the dead plants. Resistant varieties of narrowleaf lupin, soon to be released by Dr Gladstones, promise to overcome this problem.

Although little-known outside Australia, the narrowleaf lupin is potentially a new crop for many temperate and subtropical regions, as well as perhaps for tropical highlands. In particular, it offers a chance to pro" duce high-protein foods in dry areas (with short, cool growing seasons), in sandy soils, and in acid soils—all situations in which beans often fail.

In various parts of the world the narrowleaf lupin and four other almost-domesticated lupin species are beginning to interest an increasing number of researchers. Indeed, within the last six years three international lupin conferences have been held. The fourth will be in Geraldton in August 1986. That will be an opportunity for the world to witness first hand the Australians' pioneering achievement in domesticating a new food crop.

Sierra Leone links nutrition scheme to crop planning

"Eat enough food of the right kind" is the message being sent to farm families in selected villages in Sierra Leone as part of a unique programme spearheaded by the Adaptive Crop research and Extension (ACRE) Project, financed by the Governments of Sierra Leone and the United States of America through USAID). This is the first agricultural project in Sierra Leone that has included a nutrition component in its activities. The arrangement has allowed extension agents in the project to be more aware of the food and nutrition problems facing the farm families with whom they work. The nutrition instructors, for their part, can now understand and appreciate the role of agriculture in the solution of nutrition problems in rural development efforts.

ACRE was originally designed to focus on increased food production among small farmers in rural areas, but when it was realized that creasing food production and income does not automatically improve food consumption and reduce malnutrition among low-income groups (because of food preparation methods, cultural preference, and even family size), it was decided to give consumption/ nutrition aspects greater attention.

The goal of the ACRE Nutrition Component is to improve the nutrition and sanitation status of farm families in the project operational areas.

Ten female nutrition instructors were thus subsequently recruited and trained by the project with the help of members of the Home Economics Department of the Njala University College (NUC). Besides the induction training, the project also organizes annual and regular monthly training both at NUC campus and in the five project operational areas.

The project nutrition personnel and the NUC Home Economics staff who work as part-time staff of the project initially make cooking-quality and palatability tests on new varieties of food crops introduced by ACRE. This takes place in the project's Nutrition Laboratory, where recipes for preparation of various food items from ACRE-promoted food crops are also developed. most recently among them recipes for oleleh (bean pudding), akara (fried bean cakes), and aborbor (bean stew). These items are mainly prepared from cowpea varieties. Other recipes use cassava, sweet potato, maize, and rice.

The instructors' regular training teaches them to prepare the foods and in turn to demonstrate to farm families new ideas in preparing varieties of food items.

The ACRE nutrition staff also work closely with the project's extension instructors and other community development agents in the zones. Two instructors work at each project operational area, with centres at Kenema, for the Eastern Region, Njala for the Southern Region, Makeni, Kabala, and Rokupr for the Northern Region. They live in nutrition pilot villages and work directly with the farm families in the selected villages. Each is provided with a Honda-bike and other logistic supports.

The instructors regularly hold meetings with farm families during which they demonstrate the preservation, processing, and preparation of food varieties, especially baby foods. They also make regular home visits to individual farm families in order to get an idea of adoption rates of the new ideas. Special emphasis is placed on malnutrition in the zones. In this regard, instructors try to identify the malnourished and recommend appropriate foods to eliminate malnutrition. Examples: in Makakura village, Kabaia zone, food is in constant short supply because food crops are destroyed by cattle. Poor meal patterns are common in all the five zones. In Gbessebu village in the Njala zone the people prepare one meal late in the day. Undernutrition is therefore common among farm families in all the zones. In general, the duties of the instructors in the villages are mainly centred on nutrition education outreach activities including talks and demonstrations directed to village groups and to mothers visiting health clinics.

At health clinics, where pregnant and lactating mothers visit, the nutrition instructors give nutrition lessons covering such topics as the importance of a balanced diet. Special emphasis is placed on the nutritional needs of lactating and pregnant women and children, stressing the use of ACRE promoted food crops to get a balanced diet.

Backyard gardening is encouraged among farm families, with emphasis on appropriate techniques and types of vegetables. This is done in collaboration with the agricultural extension wing of the project. Farm families are provided with free inputs, such as improved varieties of seeds and technical advice.

Health aspects and sanitation of farm families are also considered. For example, they are encouraged to construct plate racks and railings for drying clothes and to maintain a constantly clean water well for drinking.

So far the large number of farm families participating in the programme is indicative of the positive effect of the nutrition instructors' work. More farm families in all the operational areas are now attending demonstration meetings on different ways of preparing food items using such ACRE-promoted food crops as cowpea, ground nuts, and rice.

 

India promotes improved stoves to cut fuel costs

Like most other Third World countries, India is now facing an acute firewood crisis and its ill effects on the lifestyle and dietary habits of more than 80 per cent of the rural population. Old, wasteful, and badly designed traditional mud stoves used for cooking in this part of the world are continuing to burn away huge quantities of firewood without generating a commensurate volume of heat.

The introduction of more fuel efficient mud stoves would mean more than substantial savings in fuelwood. Women would be spared breathing smoke and collecting wood. More important, Indian forests, whose stock of fuelwood is estimated to be 1.126-2.6 billion m3, could be spared further degradation.

To help arrest the alarming trend toward deforestation and save the fuel bill of impoverished rural families, the Department of Non-conventional Energy Sources (DNES) has unveiled a plan to install 50 million improved mud stoves between 1985 and 1989 in various parts of India. The construction of 50 million improved mud stoves at an estimated cost of Rs 3 billion is expected to result in the saving of fuelwood worth about Rs 7.5 to 10 billion annually. DNES will subsidize at least half the cost of installation of the stoves; the individual families will be responsible for actually installing them, but will be assisted by DNES technicians in buying hardware and setting the stove up according to design specifications. As there is no single standard model for traditional mud stoves. DNES has approved 12 models and others are under consideration. The models vary according to region, type of food cooked, type of fuel used, and size of the family. None of DNES approved models boasts a fuel-efficiency rate greater than 25-30 per cent.

An innovative mud stove nicknamed "ASTRA Ole" (OIe in the local Kannada language means "stove"), designed and developed by the scientists of the Centre for Application of Science and Technology for Rural Areas (ASTRA) of the Bangalore- based Indian Institute of Science, is gaining popularity in selected villages of Karnataka state because of its high efficiency (around 40 per cent) and smokeless performance. Because of its sophisticated design, the ASTRA Ole costs Rs160, while other varieties of improved mud stoves cost only Rs 100. Unfortunately, DNES has agreed to fund the diffusion of the ASTRA Ole only if its cost is brought down to Rs 100 by degrading many of its fuel-saving features. The ASTRA scientists who developed the stove after two years' painstaking research and field trials are dismayed that DNES is thinking of sacrificing the fuel-saving aspects of ASTRA Ole. For a little more initial investment, they point out, considerable fuelwood savings can be achieved.

Right now, the Rural Development Society in collaboration with the Karnataka Council of Science and Technology is engaged in popularizing the stove on a limited scale. Already some 1 000 households in Uttar Kannada, Tumkur, and Bangalore districts have taken to ASTRA Ole. Its immense popularity with rural people is due to its similarity in appearance to traditional stoves.

The three-pan ASTRA Ole can cook 10 kilos of food in 45 minutes using only 980 grams of fuel. While traditional mud stoves consume 300-500 g of fuel to cook a kilo of food, ASTRA Ole requires only 60-80 g of fuel thanks to an innovative cooking method. Pans are first brought to the boil, and then the energy stored by the stove body is used to maintain the pan temperature at adequate levels, in this way the stove can cook food with extraordinary low heat. The stove, which is constructed out of mud, has the following features: an enclosed firewood-feeding part permitting use of long pieces of wood, a grate, parts for primary and secondary air supply, snugly sitting pan seats, and a chimney. ASTRA Ole permits the use of coconut and aeronaut husks too.

Before embarking on the development of "ASTRA Ole", ASTRA scientists took care to see that (a) the shape and overall size of the stove adhered to the traditional model, at least outwardly; (b) it could be built locally using traditional raw materials; (c) it should disperse smoke above the cooking zone; Id) it should not require many adjustments to yield good results; (e) the stove should not seek to change significantly existing cooking practices and food habits.

Panamanian project reveals potential in iguana farming

Throughout much of Latin America, the iguana, a large leaf-eating lizard, is a popular food. Many people willingly pay more for iguana meat than for fish, poultry, pork, or beef. To fill the demand, the lizards are hunted by rifle, sling-shot, trap, and noose and are even run down by trained dogs. Villagers including small children) snare them to feed their families and professional hunters sell them. Iguanas are hauled around in gunny sacks and wicker baskets by car and boat, on horseback, and on foot. In some places they come to market by the truckload.

Such relentless hunting, combined with destruction of the animal's forest habitat, is now threatening the iguana with extinction. Unlike 20 years ago, some larger city food markets are finding it difficult to acquire supplies.

In Panama, however, Smithsonian Institution researchers in cooperation with the Panamanian Government are attempting to arrest this lizard's plunge toward extinction. They are beginning to farm the green iguana, demonstrating how to produce large numbers in a small area.

Although they usually weigh less than two kilograms, green iguanas can grow to lengths of more than two metres [including the whiplike tail). They resemble dragons with their greenish, scaly skin, cold eyes, claws, spines, tail-crests, and frills around the throat. They inhabit warm, humid lowland forests from the southern United States to South America. Alert, curious, and social, they are easily tamed, but they have not been commercially farmed before.

Iguanas, which can scamper up and down the tallest trees, climb to the top of the jungle canopy to feed on tender shoots that few other herbivores can reach. They are a sort of reptilian cow; bacteria in their stomachs ferment the vegetation into compounds their bloodstreams can absorb. (Newly hatched iguanas pick up the necessary bacteria by eating the droppings of other iguanas.) They convert their food into meat about as efficiently as do cows, which also use bacteria to digest their food.

In 1983 the researchers collected 700 wild iguanas and built a facility (more like a poultry farm than a cattle ranch) in a forest park near the Panama Canal. The whole facility covers roughly the area of a large house. It is made with bamboo and sheets of corrugated roofing iron in a manner that could be easily duplicated by peasants.

Each compartment contains up to 60 animals. Since iguanas are shy, they have been given hiding areas made of bamboo and vegetation. Short lengths of bamboo are piled up to form "apartments" that the iguanas squeeze into to sleep. There are trees for shade and thick branches for the iguana's favorite pastime-sunning.

"Dinner" each day consists of fresh-cut foliage, a variety of leaves and flowers, and a smorgasbord of bananas, oranges, mangoes, and passionfruits. Sometimes, as a special treat, there is a "salad" made of chopped up fruits and vegetables.

The lizards in this Panama test are thriving; they more than double in length in six months. Almost all survive to maturity, a tenfold improvement over natural conditions, where in their first year 90 per cent fall prey to birds, carnivorous lizards, and predacious animals.

Despite their endangered status, iguanas have high reproductive potential. Each female produces 30 or more eggs a year, and most of the eggs hatch. Thus if the young ones are protected during their first year, populations can build up exponentially.

The project is now capitalizing on this by attempting to repopulate a small forest. Late in 1984 it released some farm hatchlings and yearlings at a site from which wild iguanas had disappeared long ago. So far the newcomers are establishing and growing well.

But restocking forests is only one of the programme's conservation goals. Human hunger is at the root of the iguana's decline, and if the animal is to survive, that must also be addressed.

Lizards have been important foods since prehistoric times. The meat tastes something like chicken and is usually cooked in a spicy stew. The small and leathery-shelled iguana eggs are considered special delicacies and are said to cure various ailments throughout Central America.

The mystique of medicinal value seems to be a major force behind the trade in all iguanas. Indeed, belief in their curative properties is so strong that decreasing supplies are merely increasing prices. in 1976, for example, San Salvador's Mercado Central sold large iguanas for the equivalent of 80 cents, but by 1979 the price had risen to $4~80. Although this puts more pressure on the dwindling population of wild iguanas, it also makes iguana farming financially more attractive.

The Panama experiment may be relevant to more than just the green iguana of the tropical jungle. It also applies to the herbivorous lizards of the dry areas of Central America, and to the large lizards of Southeast Asia, many of which are endangered because they are so favored as food.

In its most fundamental aspect, this iguana-farming project suggests a possible way to keep the tropical forests standing while still producing food and income.

Women's garden clubs in Senegal spark community activities

In many African countries, gardening has become one of the most popular income-generating projects designed around improved water supplies. There have been many problems, however, in making gardening projects successful. Among the Diollas of Casamance, Senegal, the garden groups rely upon women's initiative, men's support, and planners' respect for people's participation. This formula, which combines self-reliance and external assistance, has worked well enough to replicate the projects at regional level with 30 to 160 groups per department. Among the many benefits reported in recent UNICEF evaluations were improved nutrition, and, with higher incomes for women, better health and a rise in living standards for their families. Thus far, these have been achieved without destroying the projects' most vital resources-women's full participation and social equality.

Garden groups did not emerge from administrative plans. Nor were they only the result of local women's efforts. Rather; they represented a convergence of trends forming at both administrative and village levels. Within the communities, women already had skills in gardening which, along with work in the rice fields, had traditionally been "women's work". Women also had equal status with men and joined many traditional cooperative associations with women leaders, ranging from age-set groups and female circumcision associations to credit and banking groups called ecafa or tessito. Neither cooperation nor handling collective funds was new to them.

An example of a model project came from the Boucotte Oulof, a prosperous village which benefitted from its proximity to the tourist region of Kabrousse. Most of the married women of the village (inluding poorer women), participated and they had kinship ties which bound them together and to women in other villages. They also maintined full control over garden production and incomes earned, but they had been careful to solicit the help of men. For example, in order to clear more than three hectares of land, the men carried the heavy wood posts to build the fence. They also dug a 12 metre well while the women hauled away the stones and gravel. In compensation, women gave donations to the local mosque and used a portion of the collective funds for community development, such as a Maternity Centre and Dispensary and a reforestation programme. Largely under the leadership of women in this village a regional federation of voluntary garden groups was formed whose main activity was to solve marketing problems.

Another example were garden groups in Dianky. There were two women's gardening groups, one with male members. This group was one of the first to make use of the UNICEF-donated truck to market its goods. Members paid for the petrol (the driver's salary and petrol for the return trip are subsidized). The president assessed the marketing situation and found that the highest profits would come from trips to the wholesale markets in Dakar. As she put it, "I'll give you an example of price differences. If the local price is 2 500 francs for something, in Dakar, on the first day, I can sell it for five times as much." While there were other problems, such as land shortages, the group was optimistic that with better marketing and new products garden groups would have a future.

The role of external agencies and administration has not always been favourable to the prosperity of garden groups. They, too, have had to learn how to work with communities. In the 1960s, following the first severe droughts, poor planning led to a flood of goods so that vegetables were left to rot in gardens as prices fell. Again, in the early 1970s, acute food shortages and a booming tourist trade encouraged a massive inflow of external funds for garden projects which discouraged local incentives and created a "dependency" mentality, something which some groups are still struggling to overcome. Nevertheless, the revival of garden groups only a few years ago had managed to take a different turn. The most successful projects have:

(1) built on women's traditional cooperative groups while expanding their activities to other community development activities;

(2) ensured that women had decision-making power over their funds;

(3) ensured a balanced cooperation between women's groups and men in the villages;

(4) promoted micro-level planning based on local initiatives, but coordinated projects within the context of a comprehensive regional development plan;

(5) replicated model experiences and enlarged pilot project coverage by use of emulation models and women-to-women networks;

(6) adjusted planning standards to variations found in hydrogeological, ecological, social, and economic conditions of the region, so as to avoid imposing unsuitable plans on communities.

The Diolla garden groups were an excellent example of how water supplies could lead to multiple benefits for women and children, and they demonstrated in reality what is often just rhetoric—that women can play an important role in leading the community toward an improved quality of life. The example also contradicted assumptions of some development programmes that people must be "motivated" to help themselves. Indeed, among the Diollas of Casamance, the motivation had been there since their ancestors dwelled in the "sacred forests"; the keY was to preserve that tradition and orient the project plans in the right direction.

Argentina seeks consensus on new agricultural programme

As part of its National Development Programme for the period 1984-87 the Government of Argentina intends to develop the agricultural and livestock sectors into a basic instrument for obtaining foreign exchange from exports and, at the same time, to defend real salaries. An outline of goals and strategies designed to achieve a significant increase in production and exports of agricultural and livestock products is being circulated for approval among all interested parties.

The plan, known as PRONAGRO (National AgriculturallLivestock Programme), can be seen as a response to the agricultural trends of the past decade. While technological developments were increasing the productivity of the land Ibetween 1975-76 and 1982-83 agricultural production rose by 80 per cent while actual seeded acreage increased only by 16 per cent) product prices fell steadh Iy and cost, based on certain strategic inputs, increased. At the same time, the increase in production meant that new infrastructures were needed to maintain quality, to meet export commitments punctually, and to make port operations more efficient. Meanwhile, the national livestock industry was severely affected by a decline in domestic demand combined with the growing practice of other meatexporting nations to subsidize their foreign sales. Much of Argentina's cold storage capacity was unused. Demand for milk dropped by 15 per cent and is still in decline.

The basic aim of PRONAGRO is to strengthen agriculture by creating a system of economic incentives for greater use of modern inputs such as fertilizers and herbicides and for utilizing credit to support investment in technological change. investments in such infrastructures as warehousing, transport, and shipping of grain (for example the enlargement of the port of Bahia Blanca and the development of the port of Quequen) will also be supported.

The Government has already increased some concrete measures. It has restored autonomy to the National Institute of Agricuitural and Livestock Technology (INTA), reduced restrictions on wheat exports and eliminated them for meat and wool, sharply lowered prices of fertilizers and herbicides, constructed regional silos in the northeast and northwest and increased National Grain Board procurements in these regions, and reorganized the cold storage industry. It is presently considering the replacement of restrictions with a tax on unimproved land which would also partly replace a tax on profits and alleviate financial pressure on small and medium rural producers. One of PRONAGRO's objectives is to lower the prices of inputs and fix internal prices of agricultural products with a flexible export tax policy. Fiscal policies will include the establishment of price supports to encourage the greater use of strategic inputs in the hope of promoting the growth of a national industry for production of agricultural chemicals, seeds, and localI y adapted machi nery.

In the livestock sector the Government will supply credit to the cold storage industry for purchases and industrialization during periods of lower prices. In the dairy industry, where demand is more concentrated and supply is fragmentary, it will participate in price fixing to protect small-scale producers of milk and butterfat.

On the marketing side, PRONAGRO intends to improve the negotiating strengths of agricultural producers at all stages, both internal and external, and will support the re-establishment of the benefits of the Cooperative Law, originally passed in 1926, but later abandoned. The National Grain Board will seek to promote mediumterm agreements for supplying other countries on a government-to-govern ment basis with the participation of cooperatives and national firms.

As for rural development, PRONAGRO proposes to hand over titles of ownership to small producers occupying state-owned lands. It will encourage settlement of unproductive state-owned land and will purchase other lands to be sold at low prices to smallholders. Both individual and collective enterprises will be promoted where minifundia now exist and the law of agrarian contracts will be revised to balance better their respective rights and obligations. Legislation stipulated by the National Board of Agriculture and Livestock Labour will be revised to define more clearly the roles of the migrant labourer, the sharecropper, and the contractor of vineyards and fruit trees (known as "tantero" in the pampas).

Above all, PRONAGRO represents an important departure in methodology for planning. All the entities affected by the legislation will participate in a national coordinating board. Similar organizations will be created at the provincial level to approve regional proposals. Three such regional proposals have been made, and precise plans have been adopted in four provinces.

Although there are political differences (some of the participating provinces are governed by the government party, others by the opposition) agreements have been possible in most cases between the parties with representatives of the cooperatives, unions, and medium-scale farmers. Thus far, there has been only one withdrawal from the national coordinating board: the Argentine Rural Confederation, representative of large producers on the pampas. The tax on unimproved land, in particular, has been violently denounced by some of the more powerful and conservative rural sectors. This, without doubt, is a sensitive point, given the importance of these sectors for exports and earning of foreign exchange, which are the very object of the plan.