| FOOD CHAIN No. 3 - July 1991 |
Credit: 17/PA Harris.
Front paqe: Herb harvesting
'Food Chain is an opportunity for you to share information on small-scale food processing with fellow workers around the world.'
This, the third issue of Food Chain, marks the end of the first year of publication. We do hope you have found the journal interesting and we welcome any suggestions, articles or comments readers send in to us. As usual Food Chain has a theme: this time the emphasis is on minor crops, a very wide field indeed.
Minor crops are often regarded as 'cash crops', and this phrase often prompts strong negative reactions from development workers. However it is important to distinguish between large scale, monoculture cash crops usually grown on prime land and destined for export, and cash crops as seen by the typical small-holder farmer.
In many areas of the world farmers have small plots of land surplus to their needs for basic food production. In some cases this 'free area' is tiny, and the farmer will grow the highest value crop he or she can, perhaps flowers or herbs, to sell for cash. In other areas landholdings are too small to be used sensibly for food production, and families may choose to plant high value crops to sell for cash. The spice gardens of Sri Lanka are an excellent example of such an economic system.
This is not to argue that prime land turned over to cash crops for export is the best use of that land: in most cases it isn't and the products bring little benefit to poor people. But cash crops planted and controlled by small-holder farmers are often vital to survival in communities which are in the cash economy. They provide the income needed for external purchases, for educating children and for investment in the farm.
In many cases however, the producers receive lower returns than they should and, as the produce moves up the distribution chain, more and more value is added. Much work is needed at the extension level to help producers improve the primary processing of their minor crops and so improve incomes.
Food Chain aims to provide practical and appropriate information, ideas and experiences for small-scale food processors. Contributions are welcome in the form of articles of 1,000 words plus line drawings and photographs where possible. Intermediate Technology has a limited number of Book Tokens for articles submitted by readers which are considered suitable for publication.
Food Chain is published three times a year and costs £9.00 for an annual subscription. If you would like to subscribe, please return the subscription form enclosed with £9.00 payment. If you are unable to pay, please complete the subscription form with your details so we can enter this information on to our circulation list.
Number 4 will focus on the primary processing of crops and number 5 will focus on oil crops. Contributions to these issues should reach this office by the end of July and early November respectively.