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close this bookCERES No. 116 (FAO Ceres, 1987, 50 p.)
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FAO in action


A recovery programme for African agriculture, launched two years ago to fill the gap between emergency operations responding to one of the continent's worst-ever famines and longer term development, has received financing totalling US$189 million. In a statement issued on the second anniversary of FAO's Agricultural Rehabilitation Programme for Africa (ARPA), Director-General Edouard Saouma said that "the financing achieved so far is heartening and the results are satisfactory." ARPA was designed as a recovery package consisting of quick action projects tailored to the specific needs of individual countries with the intent of restoring food production rapidly to pre-drought levels. The programme has supplied a wide range of basic agricultural inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, small tools, minor irrigation equipment, vaccines, livestock feed and training in various fields. To date, donors have financed 267 projects or parts of them amounting to $189 million, including $15 million from FAO's resources. In addition, Mr Saouma reported, donors have expressed interest in another 69 projects, worth $64 million, while 34 projects, with a cost of $34 million, remain uncovered.


The potential for upgrading the Philippines' native swamp buffalo, or carabao, into a stronger draught animal producing more meat and milk has been demonstrated in a fiveyear pilot project initiated by the Philippine Government in collaboration with FAO/UNDP (see FAO in Action, May-June 1985). Results thus far from the $1.8 million project for strengthening of the Philippine Carabao Research and Development Centre have indicated that F1 crosses from native carabao and exotic breeds from India, Pakistan, and Thailand achieve 42 per cent greater growth at 24 months of age and produce about two and one half times as much milk as native stock. On the basis of these results, the Philippine Government has prepared a 10-year National Carabao Development Project with the goal of producing about 700 000 crossbreds utilizing induced artificial breeding technology generated by the earlier project. Meanwhile, the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Resources Research and Development has bestowed on the FAO/UNDP project the 1986 Tanglaw Award, a recognition made each year to agencies and institutions which "have made significant contributions to the advance of agriculture and natural resources research in the Philippines".


Recently resettled smallholders in rice-growing areas of the Dominican Republic are being helped to reduce harvest and post-harvest losses while at the same time gaining greater control over processing and marketing of their crops. Launched in the fall of 1983 with $720 000 financing from an Italian government trust fund, this FAO-executed project has introduced new threshing equipment that has significantly reduced both the manual labour and the losses involved in rice harvesting and has supported the establishment of a campesino-controlled collection and milling centre. Due mainly to water management problems, it was not possible to use combine harvesters in many of the holdings allotted to campesinos under recent agrarian reform legislation, thus entailing arduous manual harvesting and threshing, with losses estimated in the range of 10 to 15 per cent, depending upon the rice variety grown. With the adoption of a portable mechanized thresher, originally introduced into the country through a bilateral Netherlands project, the number of operations required between cutting and milling has been reduced from 11 to 6, with a consequent improvement in the quality of the final product. For example, it is not necessary to wait several days between cutting and transport of the sacked rice to the mill, a period in which losses in the pilot project have been reduced to less than 0.5 per cent, an achievement equivalent to a yield increase of about 700 kg/ha. Another innovation has been the construction of a rice collection centre and mill for the Santa Clara Smallholders Association in the central Cibao Valley. Made possible through a loan of US$100 000 from the Agricultural Bank and the donation of $150 000 worth of drying and milling equipment from the pilot project, the centre has sufficient capacity to process the harvest of its 88 compassion members - some 2 400 tons per year - plus some additional capacity to allow for processing of rice from neighbouring associations. This development has allowed producers to retain a much higher proportion of their crops' market value than was the case in the traditional practice of marketing the crop as paddy rice as soon as it was harvested. On the basis of the positive results achieved with the pilot project, the Dominican Government has now begun a much more extensive programme to install new equipment or transfer existing rice mills to various organized groups of smallholders in different rice-growing areas of the country.


Critical shortages of skilled manpower needed for tsetse and trypanosomiasis control have spurred the development of a regional training programme to serve English-speaking countries of the Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC). A regional training centre for middle level control personnel was established two years ago in Zambia with funding of approximately US$1.9 million shared among UNDP, the Norwegian Government, and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), with FAO as the executing agency. The project accepts trainees from a wide range of anglophone countries in tsetse-infested Africa, and, as well, from other countries in the region able to send trainees with a satisfactory command of English. The principal activity is an annual six and one half month course based in Lusaka, but with long field trips; for much of the course, trainees live under canvas. Each August, the class visits Zimbabwe to witness control activities and experimental trials there, moving about as a self-sufficient unit complete with camping gear, food, transport, and equipment. The project is also designed to set up shorter, tailor-made courses, according to the needs of particular governments.


A major reshaping of the agricultural faculty of the National University of Asuncion has been undertaken with the support of a two-year US$285 000 FAO/UNDP project scheduled for completion later this year. In order to develop a greater role for the Faculty in national research programmes (at present practically non-existent) and at the same time to strengthen the training of senior level agronomists, the project will focus on three particular aspects of the Faculty's situation. It will seek to foster closer personal relations between graduate students and faculty; it will encourage an academic approach in which students would participate in proposing curriculum revisions, departmental orientation, and training requirements for teaching staff; it would establish an organic system for research designed to combine the relative strengths of teaching staff in various departments with those of senior students. Other state organizations and producer associations will participate and foreign universities and research centres will have a supporting role.


A brighter picture for multilateral funding for capital investment projects in agriculture has emerged from the annual summary of FAO's Investment Centre activities for 1986. During the year, a total of 40 investment projects prepared earlier with Investment Centre assistance were approved for financing for a total of US$2 985 million. Of this amount $1 674 million was in external loans with the balance committed by 31 recipient governments. In 1985, total investments had dropped to $1 847 million, of which the loan element was $1 031 million. The Investment Centre report noted that the figures for 1986 are exceptionally high due to several very large projects approved by the World Bank and one large programme loan by the Asian Development Bank. The figure for 1985, on the other hand, had been unusually low, with investments falling below $2 billion for the first time in many years. Forty-five per cent of the funding went for 18 projects in sub-Saharan Africa. During the year, the Investment Centre continued to be involved in ongoing project work, identifying or preparing 149 projects in 68 countries. A total of 207 missions were mounted under direct technical responsibility of the Centre. A feature of the 1986 programme was the Centre's increased involvement in subsector studies, mainly in Africa, involving policy dialogue with governments in order to establish a policy framework for future investment.