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close this bookCERES No. 075 (FAO Ceres, 1980, 50 p.)
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View the documentRecommendations and realities: Women in rural development
View the document''Women are not benefiting from the modernization of agriculture''
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View the documentCentring on Health
View the documentThe Joluo equation
View the documentThe economics of the bamboo tubewell
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ISSN 0009-0379

This Issue...

Five years ago, when ceres last devoted the major part of an issue to the subject of women, the opportunities for exploring seldom-debated questions were considerably greater than at present If it achieved nothing else, International Women's Year, to which that earlier issue was addressed, together with the UN Decade for Women, whose mid-point is now being observed, succeeded in generating a multitude of studies, conferences and publications designed to define more precisely the nature of sex-based inequalities and to prescribe more effective measures for their elimination.

As a consequence, it is difficult to find any aspect of women's role in society that has not been subjected to a certain amount of scholarly scrutiny and often some attention from the media as well. What must be remembered, however, is that much of this exposition has occurred because of extraordinary effort inspired by the growing movement for equality. What is now being recognized more clearly is that the normal institutional framework of most societies lacks any systematic means of measuring, as a matter of routine, the enormous contribution of women to the economic and social fabric of a nation. Selected by men, the data used as indicators of social performance and progress seldom encompass those activities of women on which so much of daily existence depends.

The frustrations caused by these statistical inadequacies are evident in much of the material presented in this issue, particularly in the comments of Marie-Angelique Savane in the interview on page 23 and in the article by Monique Fong, a statistician herself, starting below.

... and next

The investment required over the next 20 years to achieve levels of food production adequate to match growing demand assumes awesome proportions. Our next issue will begin an examination of these questions, drawing on FAO's study, Agriculture Toward 2000, and other sources.

How Tunisia enlisted unarmed cacti in war against drought

fodder for flocks

If you want to eat cactus, you have to pull off the thorns - and enjoy doing so. When the consumer is a sheep and the variety of cactus chosen is the so-called "unarmed," or thornless, the two conditions are met and it is time for the dinner gong. This has happened in Tunisia on a large scale. But the story covers more than cacti, and it has, so to speak, pulled more than one thorn out of the feet not only of the sheep of the region, but also of many farmers and, in short, of the whole country.

This began about ten years ago, with a very simple geography lesson. Tunisia is mainly an agricultural country, with vast arid and semiarid zones. Only in the north is the rainfall sufficient for agriculture. It follows that in the southern part of the country, activity is largely nomad or seminomad. And, as elsewhere, this way of making a living causes considerable damage to the soil, which is overgrazed and quickly falls prey to erosion.

This is why, a long time ago, the Tunisian Government set itself three goals: re-establish a balance between the north and south of the country, combat the desert and desertification by developing the south, and stabilize the population by checking the rural exodus and emigration to Europe. Already in the 1960s a project had been established, to be implemented by the "polyculture cooperatives." The World Food Programme (WFP) had granted aid to the tune of $27 million, which at that time was the largest sum ever approved.

The project had two main objectives - one arboriculture and the other fodder. First of ail, it was necessary to protect existing plantations of fruit trees, to restore them, to strengthen them against the advancing desert and, at the same time, to expand them. To this end (as well as the traditional olive, fig and apricot trees), thousands of pistachio and almond trees were planted to provide the favourite ingredients in Arab pastry - and also to fuel a flourishing export market. So much for arbouriculture. As to fodder, this is where our unarmed cactus comes in, introduced with FAO assistance to meet the following need. Every five or six years, there is a drought in southern Tunisia. Even the layman will realize the effect of this on the already poor grazing and rangelands. Cattle die off or have to be slaughtered before their emaciation makes them useless as food.

Periodically, therefore, the Tunisian flocks were decimated. They would still be so today if someone had not thought of this type of cactus which, although indigenous, had never been used on a large scale. FAO experts stated that, if cultivated rationally, this thick-leaved plant, which needs neither fertile earth nor heavy rainfall, could also stabilize the soil. And since, unlike ordinary fodder crops, it does not need to be harvested every year, it can be kept as a sort of reserve against years of drought. All that was needed was the prohibition of its use during other years (guards were provided for this purpose), and to accustom the farmers to this new crop, which the State undertook to do with extension services.

This time, widespread peasant participation has led to complementary activities: digging of water points, rehabilitation of the soil, and even apiculture.

The balance sheet for ten years shows 100000 ha of trees planted, 127 000 ha of existing plantations restored, and 100000 ha of cactus plantations. During the last droughts, the latter contributed to saving about 230 000 sheep and goats. At $30 to $40 per animal, such a saving already amounts to some $8 million. After this success, attempts are now being made to start cultivation of the cactus in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.

But there is something more important. The 350 000 to 400 000 persons affected by this project are, for the most part (not all of them), among the 800 000 Tunisians classified by the Government as being below the poverty line. Now that they have the means, they have rediscovered a taste for living.

Multipurpose palm, Brazil's babacu gains attention

processing plant proposed

The babacu, a wild palm that grows most abundantly in the northeastern region of Brazil, may prove to be an important industrial crop if several major projects under consideration by Brazilian authorities are launched.

The babacu palm has many uses. When green, the nut may be used for smoking rubber; when ripe, the fruit provides a nutritious food. Stalks serve as timbers and leaves are used to produce coverings and walls in native homes. Peduncle, a liquid contained in the stalk, is fermented and drunk as an alcoholic beverage. A beverage similar to chocolate may be made from the mesocarp or main portion of the fruit. Buttons are made from the endocarp or inner layer. Oil, extracted from the palm kernels, is used as fuel and lubricants as well as in the soap and cosmetic industries.

At present, however, only the kernel of the babacu nut is processed to produce oil and oil cake. From 2.5 million tons of nuts, about 200 000 tons of kernels can be obtained for processing into oil.

The babacu grows throughout more than 14165 000 ha of the Amazon Basin. Total production of oil from it has varied between 45000 and 100000 tons. About 90 percent have been consumed in the domestic market.

On the international market, babacu oil is in direct competition with coconut oil, and in the early 1970s its prices were adversely affected by the availability of large quantities of low-grade coconut oil from the Philippines. More recently, the market has shown a good recovery.

Both babacu oil and coconut oil are rich in lauric acid. New techniques in fractioning are greatly extending their use into specialized sections of the food industries and in other fields such as special lubricants.

Although the palm has been slightly commercialized, further research is necessary before its full potential can be realized. Recent studies have revealed that the mesocarp, or middle layer, of the husk that remains after the extraction of oil contains a high starch content that can be converted into alcohol. From the original 2.5 million tons of nuts, there remain after extraction some 500 000 tons of mesocarp capable of producing some 200 million litres of alcohol.

Among the projects for the promotion of the babacu industry in Brazil is the one formulated with assistance from FAO's Investment Centre, for the processing of babacu palm nuts on an industrial scale. A processing plant to be constructed for this purpose would include raw material collection systems. The plant would be owned and managed by a private company, Carioca Industrial e Agricola de Maranhao (AGRIMA). Total investment requirements would exceed $100 million.

If this project is approved by the Brazilian Government, it is estimated that the plant would employ over 800 people. Some 20 000 rural families would benefit as suppliers of the material, and their average annual income should rise by as much as three times. Additional benefits would accrue to the service industries: transport, power, etc.

Since kernel extraction by hand is extremely difficult and costly, the projected plant would process the entire nut to produce oil, oil cake, charcoal, charcoal briquettes, pitch, creosotes, acetic acid, methanol.

Of the eight products to be processed, the two main ones, oil and charcoal, would be marketed domestically. The charcoal would be used by the Brazilian iron and steel industry (substituting for some of the estimated $10 million of coke being imported), the oil by cooking oil and soap manufacturers and cosmetic and speciality products. At full development, the sales of these two products would account for about 75 percent of revenue.

A natural source for fertilizer and pest repellents

the name is neem

For generations, Indian peasants have observed that the only green vegetation which regularly survived massive locust infestations was the foliage of the neem tree. For at least as long, they have attributed to the tree almost legendary medicinal and insect-repelling qualities, using its twigs, for instance, to fan quarantined smallpox patients.

But although widely cultivated in arid regions of India and Africa and a fast-growing source of fuelwood, neem remains one of the least exploited, yet potentially most valuable, of all tropical trees. Only in recent years has scientific research begun to suggest the possibility of much greater utilization of neem.

Indigenous to India and Burma, Azadirachta indica Juss, as the neem is known scientifically, thrives in dry, nutrient-deficient soils. Its extensive root system has displayed a unique physiological capacity to extract nutrients from badly leached, sandy soils and to return these, in fallen leaves and twigs, to the topsoil for the benefit of shallow-rooted crops. Its wood, considered excellent for construction and furniture, is seldom attacked by termites.

But, in an energy- and environment conscious era, perhaps the most significant potential of neem lies in its ability to provide organic substitutes for agricultural chemicals through use of neem oil for pest control and neem cake as a fertilizer component.

Laboratory and field tests have shown the potential of neem oil in reducing damage of the brown plant hopper (Nilaparvata lugens), a serious pest of rice in Asia. Hoppers avoided feeding on rice plants that had been sprayed with crude emulsified neem oil. Applied to stored grain, neem oil has given effective protection against pests for up to 10 months and sharply reduced losses in stored maize, sorghum, peas and gram.

Used as an organic manure, neem cake has been credited with a 37-percent increase in cotton yields, 19 percent in paddy, and has proved superior to castor, mahua or cow dung as a fertilizer for sugarcane. Blended with urea, neem cake has significantly reduced costs of nitrogen fertilizer while at the same time achieving considerable yield improvement. A three-season trial on sugarcane carried out at the Sugarcane Research Station at Padegaon, India, revealed that a blend of 140 kg of neem cake and 300 kg of urea increased yields by 2.2 metric tons per ha as compared with applications of 400 kg of untreated urea. Returns were thus increased by 330 rupees per ha while costs were reduced by 338 rupees per ha.

The effectiveness of neem cake as a fertilizer compound is attributed to properties that inhibit nitrification and permit the slow release of nitrogen from urea, thereby reducing nitrogen losses. The most widely ued slow-release nitrogen fertilizers are sulphur-coated urea, ureaform and isobutylidene-diurea. All are very costly and even in countries where they are manufactured are used only in commercial floriculture and on expensive turfs. In the case of India, both slow-release nitrogen fertilizers and nitrification inhibitors, which are also costly, would have to be imported. It was in a search for substitutes that the Indian Agricultural Research Institute discovered the valuable properties of the neem seed.

A report by the India Central Oil Seeds Committee has estimated that the country's 13.8 million neem trees have a potential yield of 0.4 million metric tons of seed per year, 20 percent as oil and 80 percent as cake. The yearly seed collection would provide employment for 400 000 workers for 60 days.

The hidden perils of comparing GNP, inflation rates

tortured data

When the traveller from a high-inflation country arrives in another country with a very low inflation rate, such as the Federal Republic of Germany (2.4 percent) or Switzerland (0.7 percent), he expects, reasonably enough, to find correspondingly low prices. On discovering that a box of matches or a tube of shoepolish costs him a fortune, he begins asking questions about the way inflation is quantified.

Another illusion with which we seem to be completely satisfied is that a poor country is automatically a "developing" country. The table shows that nothing could be less true, and that there are a number of countries around the world heading for underdevelopment. Listed here are 11 countries that, over a 17- year period, have shown the highest rates of increase in their per caput GNP, and 11 that have, on the contrary, shown a drop in their GNP.

We had better admit, along with Alfred Sauvy, that "a figure is a delicate and sensitive thing which, put on the rack, will confess according to the desires of the torturer." For, besides being limited to the measurement of the object of a commercial transaction, GNP is made completely relative by inflation, which is itself relative, as we have been.

How else can we explain, for instance, that wealthy Kuwait sports an annual -3.1 percent average decline in GNP over such a long period? There are apparently two reasons for this: on the one hand, inflation, which rose to 31.3 percent annually between 1970 and 1977; on the other hand, fantastic population growth (10.3 percent from 1960 to 1970 and 6.1 percent from 1970 to 1977) due essentially, of course, to immigration. Nonetheless, during the same time, Kuwait did manage to make a remarkable effort in the field of health by bringing the number of persons per doctor to a level comparing favourably with that of the industrialized countries. But if inflation (17.4 in Bangladesh, 30.9 in Ghana between 1970 and 1977) is sometimes the basic cause of these slipping GNPS, even more often it is debt burdens that are completely crippling weak economies. Thus, in 1977, the outstanding external public debt, expressed as a percentage of GNP, rose to 15 for Niger, 20.5 for Senegal, 22.0 for Chad, 41.8 for Bangladesh, 50.3 for Democratic Yemen and 92.6 for Somalia!

Inflation, population and debt are not enough to explain everything. Evidence of something else emerges from a reading of these figures: that certain countries, to develop, have chosen a different path from "growth at any price." Senegal, for instance, and Democratic Yemen to an even greater degree, managed to give their per caput food production a considerable boost in six years. Cuba produced adult literacy rates of 96 percent while life expectancy rates at birth rose in 1977 to 72 years, on a level with those of Hong Kong, New Zealand, Austria, Finland, Australia, Belgium and the Federal Republic of Germany.

New cost-benefit approach taken on tobacco growing

health hazards included

Around the world about 120 countries are engaged in growing tobacco. Some, particularly in Africa, have only recently introduced the crop in the hope of increasing export revenues. Tobacco consumption in poor countries is also increasing more rapidly than in the industrialized world (see ceres No. 72, p. 5). Clearly the economic benefits derived from increased output and the social costs in the form of health hazards implied in heavier consumption are a dilemma facing governments of many developing countries.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Chronicle, "The epidemic of smoking-related diseases (in developing countries) has already reached such magnitude as to rival even infectious diseases or malnutrition as a public health problem. It must be emphasized that in many developing countries any short-term benefits arising from the establishment of tobacco as a cash crop which can be taxed will be inevitably followed by long-term ill-effects of a most serious and costly nature. Promotion of smoking should, therefore, cease in those countries, and education on the harmful effects of smoking should be introduced instead."

WHO regards a global campaign against smoking as crucial because it ties in with its long-term commitment to the establishment of reasonable health care systems for all by the turn of the century. WHO has been endeavouring to enlist support of other international organizations in this effort. One project, to be undertaken jointly with FAO, will be a study to compare the economic benefits of tobacco production with the health costs of smoking-related diseases. The aim is to develop guidelines for use by countries that are considering a switch to alternative food or cash crops.

Many problems raised by a campaign against tobacco still need to be solved. "There are problems of crop substitution, employment, conditions of work and economics to be worked out," warns one UN specialist. "Techniques to help addicts to stop smoking have a long way to go before they are cost effective and generally acceptable. Pharmacological and physiological questions remain unclear."

Five nations join in green belt plan for North Africa

new crops tested

The launching of a three-year series of crop trials in a desert region west of the Nile Delta is the most recent initiative in a vast scheme to develop a green belt across North Africa from the Nile to the Atlantic. Egypt's development programme for the West Nubariya desert region is intended for the resettlement of 10000 landless families from the densely overcrowded Nile Delta into model agricultural cooperatives.

The Overseas Development Administration of the United Kingdom and the World Bank are jointly financing the crop tests on the feasibility of growing sugar beet, sunflowers, onions, tomatoes, and cereals on a commercial scale in the desert. The United Kingdom has been involved in the project since 1976 and has already supported a series of specialist studies there on physical factors such as soil composition and suitable irrigation and drainage methods, as well as the likely social and economic impact of such a major scheme. Elsewhere, Egyptian scientists are engaged in research programmes involving sand dune stabilization, soil conservation, irrigated farming, range management, and afforestation.

The regional master plan, incorporating the national land-reclamation policies of five North African countries, springs from the United Nations Conference on Desertification held in Nairobi in 1977. The transcontinental green belt is already emerging. It is to embrace a variety of devices, including farmsteads, woodlands, rangeland shelterbelts and the like to protect the fragile ecology of the region from further encroachment by the Sahara desert. An Egyptian architect of the transcontinental scheme says that a joint secretariat is being established by the five countries to pool research and training facilities and to collaborate in long-term planning.

Algeria is to contribute the experience gained in a large-scale programme aimed at the establishment of a green belt 1 500 km long and 25 km wide across the country to protect arable land and pasture in the northern areas from the encroachment of the Sahara. Tunisia has a similar project, an elaborate mixture of afforestation, windbreaks, range management and soil conservation to preserve and consolidate the ecological balance of 10 million ha of land threatened by desert encroachment. The Libyan Arab Jamahiriya has established some of the largest nurseries in the world to provide for an ambitious programme of afforestation and sand dune stabilization. Morocco has several large-scale afforestation programmes that form a mosaic pattern of windbreaks and forest areas.

The idea is to coordinate these national programmes in a single regional scheme. Specialists from the five countries have already met to discuss the establishment of joint nursery stations, regional training courses, and mechanisms for the exchange of information and experience.

All the countries involved have experienced the loss of precious agricultural land to urban expansion. Thus, they are hoping that their coordinated long-term land-use plan may protect the region from land speculation and other undesirable commercial pressures, as well as from soil degradation.

Effective vaccine for swine fever is research goal

a complex virus

Most of those countries in Latin America and the Mediterranean hit by outbreaks of African swine fever in 1978 have been unsuccessful in stamping out the highly contagious and generally fatal disease. Although millions of pigs have died or been slaughtered, the malady remains widespread in Brazil and Haiti and sporadic outbreaks still occur in the Dominican Republic and Sardinia. In March of last year, the disease was reported on the island of Sao Tome.

At a government consultation on African swine fever held in Panama City last October, various needs to prevent further spread of the disease were identified and formulated as projects. According to the latest information, the amount of external financial assistance required to protect uninfected countries in Latin America and the Caribbean is about $4 million. Considerably more funding would be needed to eradicate the disease from countries already infected.

There are many different strains of the virus and the resulting mortality rates range from 20 to more than 90 percent. Although recent outbreaks have involved the less virulent forms, control is difficult because the symptoms may not be immediately noticeable to farmers. Moreover, the disease closely resembles hog cholera, making diagnosis difficult without laboratory aids.

Action to contain and eventually eliminate the disease has been undertaken at both national and international levels. FAO has committed more than $1.2 million from its Technical Cooperation Programme to provide equipment, supplies, consultants and fellowship programmes not only for the affected countries but also for bordering states where the risk of contamination is high. In addition, training courses for laboratory specialists and field veterinarians are held regularly. In conjunction with the UN Development Programme, FAO has implemented many regional projects involving frontier control, veterinary legislation and public education. One current FAO/UNDP project concentrates on training for emergency control of outbreaks of the disease.

Sources of the recent outbreaks were believed to be contaminated pork or pork products brought into the affected countries on aircraft or ships. It is generally assumed that the only effective way of eradicating the disease is through slaughter of all pigs on infected premises and subsequent quarantine of the affected areas. However, a growing awareness of the problem has resulted in tighter controls at quarantine stations and at least a reduction in the practice of provisioning aircraft and ships with pork products in countries infected with the disease. There are also been limited success in the use of two vaccines recently produced in Spain. More recently still, FAO has submitted three research projects to potential donors with a view to developing a safe, effective vaccine.

It will not be an easy task. The three projects involve radically new ap proaches, since numerous attempts in the past to develop a useful vaccine have failed. Two of the projects will attempt to improve and expand knowledge of the molecular and antigenic characteristics of the virus, as well as the immunological response of the host. The third project involves the actual preparation and evaluation of the vaccine.

The difficulty in producing an effective vaccine arises from the peculiar nature of the virus itself. The antigen-antibody relationships are unusual, complex and partially unknown. Although many antibodies are produced after infection, they have never been demonstrated to neutralize the virus. Thus, surviving animals never develop an active immunity and remain virus carriers for life. The objective now, says Y. Ozawa, a senior animal health officer at FAO, is to find a vaccine that does not necessarily produce antibodies but rather some other mechanisms to protect the animal.

"Finding that something else," says Ozawa, "will be a major breakthrough." He cautions, however, that no vaccine will be applied unless its efficiency and safety are certified by international organizations. Still fresh in the memory of many veterinarians and livestock specialists, not to mention the farmers affected, are the disastrous results of a large-scale vaccination programme conducted in Spain and Portugal during the early 1960s. The vaccine, developed from a weakened strain of the virus, had not been sufficiently tested before application and as a result many vaccinated animals died.

"We have to be extremely cautious and do proper experimentation," says Ozawa. "Otherwise the vaccine may cause further problems and even more outbreaks. We don't want to make the same mistake over again."

Lethal bacterium may help to curb malaria spread

kills insect larvae

In the past five years, the number of malaria cases in the world has more than doubled. In some regions there has been as much as a 40-fold increase in incidence of the disease. No part of the globe seems to be safe from it. The recent epidemic in Turkey has caused alarm in European countries long tree of malaria. In Canada, seven cases were reported in 1972, 25 in 1973, 52 in 1975, 91 in 1976, and 100 in 1977. It is estimated that 1000 million people are directly threatened by malaria, more than by any other disease. In some countries, the anopheline mosquito responsible for spread of the disease has grown resistant to DDT and other widely used chemical insecticides, while the disease agent itself has become resistant to antimalarial drugs.

Considered against this background, the recent discovery of a new bacteriological weapon against malaria may have significant implications. Identified by research workers at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, the highly lethal and selective bacterium is believed to be the potential source of an effective, basic medical tool against malaria as well as such other parasitic diseases as yellow fever, filariasis, dengue, encephalitis and onchocerciasis that have afflicted populations in vast areas of the developing world.

The sequence of events leading to the new antimalarial agent began in Israel where scientists retrieved bacteria infested dead mosquito larvae from ponds and initiated further investigations. The bacteria cultures were sent to Paris where they were eventually identified as a hitherto unkown variety of bacillus thuringienis. The new variety has crystals and sterologic properties different from the rest of the group. Most important, it has toxic properties, both very potent and very specific. It kills larvae of the insect order that includes disease-carrying mosquitoes and sand flies. As soon as larvae ingest the toxic crystal, the digestive tract becomes paralyzed and nutrient intake ceases. Death follows very quickly. Laboratory tests have been quite conclusive and if the forthcoming field trials in Africa and Asia confirm the research findings, the new bacteriological agent is likely to be deployed soon in public health projects.

Trade in vegetable oils characterized by fierce competition

international accord lacking

Whether one thinks of it in terms of salad dressing, frying fish or cooking pancakes, edible oil is among the products with the highest elasticity of demand: as soon as a country's income level rises, purchases of oil go up as well. Two figures serve as good indicators of this oil hunger. While per caput income for market-economy developing countries on the one hand and for North America and the EEC on the other stands in a ratio of 1 to 15 (about $7 500), the ratio of per caput oil consumption is only 1 to 4.3 (approximately 7 kg per annum against 30). Which is to say that oil is one of the priority items of expenditure as household budgets rise.

There is fierce competition to supply this ever-expanding market in which vegetable oils from oilseeds form 70 percent of the total, the rest being animal oils (about 30 percent) with a tiny 2 percent for fish oil. In the vegetable oil "goods train" with its ten or so wagons, soybean oil definitely takes the lead as the "engine."

For the third year running, thanks to increased areas under cultivation and greater productivity, the soybean harvest has broken all previous records. While soybean oil represented 20.8 percent of total vegetable oil production during the period 1964-66, in 1977-79 it reached 30.6 percent. During the latter period, 60 percent of total oil production in industrialized countries was derived from soybean! It is true that if this is the favourite in these countries, it is not so much for its flavour (olive oil is usually preferred), but because the by-product, soybean cake, makes such an extremely profitable animal feed.

Some Third World countries are now making great efforts to try to beat the near-monopoly held by North America in this field. Brazil and Argentina, in particular, have increased the developing countries' stake in soybean oil production from 1.5 percent to 21.1 percent from one period to the other. But their diversification efforts have not stopped there: by planting many hectares to sunflower, these two countries plan to attack the other quasi-monopoly held by the centrally planned economies, which produced two thirds of all sunflower oil in 1977-79 (as against four fifths in 1965-66). Meanwhile, the Ivory Coast has concentrated on oil palm and coconut palm cultivation.

These three - soybean, sunflower and palm oil - together make up 55 percent of world vegetable oil production, while 68.3 percent of exports consist of soybean and palm oil. The oil palm, which yields two types of oil, palm oil (from the fleshy part of the fruit) and palm-kernel oil, is in fact very profitable and gives the highest oil yield per hectare. This is why the Ivory Coast is straining to catch up with the big producers of palm oil (Malaysia and Indonesia) and of copra (Philippines).

But competition is fierce between the 80-odd world exporters. Two factors tend to aggravate the situation. Firstly, there is the fact that domestic consumption is on the upgrade, which leaves a narrower production. Obviously, international agreements in this area would be welcome. Unfortunately, to date only olive oil benefits from an agreement of this kind, clearly facilitated by the fact that the rich nations produce three fourths of it themselves and that they are largely self-sufficient in this product. Furthermore, this agreement is controlled more through talks between the producers rather than by economic measures.

As for the rest, meetings held under the aegis of UNCTAD have so far been limited to proposals for a study on "joint international action concerning research-development." margin for export, at least in the poor nations, where the elasticity of demand is much higher. This explains why the considerable growth of production in these countries has not been sufficient to maintain export levels. In relative terms (Table 2), even if they are still net exporters, they are becoming less and less so from year to year. On the other hand, though the developing countries remain net importers, they are continually less so since they have managed in three years to cut down their dependence by two thirds.

The other adverse factor is what could be called the soybean diktat, which causes price fluctuations for the other oils as a result of increased soybean production. Obviously, international agreements in this area would be welcome. Unfortunately, to date only olive oil benefits from an agreement of this kind, clearly facilitated by the fact that the rich nations produce three fourths of it themselves and that they are largely self-sufficient in this product. Further more, this agreement is controlled more through talks between the producers rather than by economic measures.

As for the rest, meetings held under the aegis of UNCTAD have so far been limited to proposals for a study on "joint international action concerning research-development."

''Fingerprinted'' cargoes proposed for tracking oil spillage offenders

to control deliberate dumping

Spectacular collisions or wrecks, like the Amoco-Cadiz disaster off the French coast, create bigger headlines but actually cause less environmental damage than thousands of other spillages, often intentional, by tankers that usually escape detection. Collisions and shipwrecks, it is estimated, account for less than 10 percent of ship-generated marine pollution. The largest single source, according to a recent study, is the deliberate dumping of oily water used to clean cargo tanks.

The threat that oil spillages, deliberate or otherwise, pose to living marine resources has prompted efforts in many countries to find effective control measures. Some results from this research are now surfacing. When the Intergovernmental Maritime Consultative Organization (IMCO) meets in London in June, it will consider results of initial trials of a simple, inexpensive technique for identifying offending vessels by "fingerprinting" their cargoes with the infusion of minute, easily identifiable metal alloy particles.

Pioneered by Sweden, which is affected by about half of the estimated 500 oil slicks occurring annually in the Baltic, the "fingerprinting" system relies on a vast number of combinations of light metal alloys, one of which each tanker captain would be obliged to mix with his oil cargo. In the event of spillage, a quick chemical analysis of the resulting slick would be sufficient to identify the offending ship and to establish financial liability for the damage caused.

Sweden began national experiments with the technique five years ago and has just recently completed a $500 000 six-month, Baltic-wide trial in cooperation with the Federal Republic of Germany, Finland, the German Democratic Republic, Poland and the USSR. It is the result of this test that will be considered by IMCO, the most likely monitor for such a system should the world's maritime nations agree to adopt it.

In addition to the Swedish proposal, current research studies on the problem include much more spectacular projects involving space-age techniques with multidisciplinary applications. For example, scientists at the UK's Lancaster University have developed a technique for transforming infrared pictures obtained from space satellites into colour maps that can be used to identify, measure and follow the movement of oil slicks at sea Oil slicks on water raise the temperature in the affected area by about 1°C. This small increase can be detected by the sensitive infrared measuring device on board the orbiting satellites. The temperature differences registered by the instruments are recorded as data and are normally transformed on the ground into maps with shades of grey representing different temperatures. The system devised at Lancaster transforms these shades of grey into eight "false" colours. The operator then scans the infrared satellite picture, enlarges a given area, and any one degree rise in temperature will show up as an outstanding colour difference.

Another application, similar to the Swedish one, has been developed by scientists of the General Electric Research and Development Centre in Schenectady, New York.

It would identify spilled cargoes by magnetic metal particles which could be removed during unloading by the use of magnetic filters.

FAO in action

Recovery in cereals

Larger plantings by farmers and good weather that prevailed in many regions during the first four months of this year are pointing toward substantial gains over 1979 in world harvests of cereals and oilseeds. In its latest Food Outlook Report, FAO predicted that combined production of wheat and coarse grains should rise to 1 208 million tons assuming normal growing conditions for the balance of this year. Wheat production was estimated at 450 million tons, 7 percent above 1979, while the coarse grains estimate was 755 million tons, 3 percent higher than last year. Although world trade in wheat and coarse grains has reached unprecedented levels following last year's 4-percent decline in production, FAO said that export availabilities of grain are more than sufficient to meet import requirements. Carry-over stocks of cereals, however, will be 14 million tons below 1979 levels and, equivalent to 17 percent of annual consumption, represent "the minimum required for world food security. "

Consultations on rice

An informal and voluntary "framework for international consultations on rice'' has been adopted by member countries of the FAO Intergovernmental Group on Rice. The framework, which consolidates consultative arrangements developed by the FAO Group in previous years, calls for six activities: consultations, regular review of rice market conditions, estimates by member governments of import requirements and export availabilities, guidelines relating to concessional transactions, regular review of rice production policies and evaluation of the adequacy of rice stocks. The Rice Group found that in 1980 there will be ''a close balance between global export availabilities and import requirements. '' with world rice trade expected to match the record level of 11.1 million tons of last year.

Oilseed supplies increase

For the third consecutive year, world output of oilseed products in 1980 will set a record, pushing supplies well beyond demand. At its annual meeting in Rome in April, the FAO Intergovernmental Group on Oilseeds, Oils and Fats estimated that production of edible and soap fats is likely to rise by 9 percent to 61 million tons and oilseed proteins by 18 percent to 46 million tons. Since production increases are concentrated in exporting countries, export supplies will rise even more sharply in proportion, though stocks are not expected to reach ''unduly burdensome levels." Prices, however, already below average 1979 levels, may decline further in coming months.

Coordinating role

"The largest small farmer development programme in the world today" is how the Commission on African Animal Trypanosomiasis has described FAO's long-term programme for combating the usually fatal disease that impedes development in large areas of the African continent. In endorsing FAO's role as the coordinator of national, bilateral and multilateral efforts, the Commission suggested that each area and set of circumstances should be individually studied and assessed before appropriate integrated control and development policies could be formulated.

Binding convention urged

A legally binding convention to provide for international food emergency reserves is being advocated forcefully by FAO Director-General Edouard Saouma. In major addresses in April before the European Parliament's Committee for Development and Cooperation in Brussels and the Committee on Food Aid Policies and Programmes in Rome, Mr. Saouma decried the lack of any guarantee that assistance from the present International Emergency Food Reserve "would be readily available when and where it is most urgently needed " Acknowledging the political implications of such a convention, the Director-General said he was convinced that ''the chaotic situation of the world at present calls for a bold approach.'"

Food aid commitments

Food aid worth $186.6 million was approved for 16 economic and social development projects in 15 countries when the Committee on Food Aid Policies and Programmes, the governing body of the World Food Programme, met in late April. The majority of the projects were in the agricultural sector, with three aimed directly at increasing food production. Of WFP's overall food aid target of $950 million for the 1979-80 biennium, only 80 percent has been pledged by donor countries. The target for 1981-82 is $1 000 million, one third of which was pledged during a recent conference.

Support for Africans

FAO will continue to support the peoples and liberation movements of Namibia and South Africa in their determination to end colonialism, racism and apartheid "so that the nations of Africa may turn their energy and resources to fighting that other great enemy - hunger.'' This was the message delivered by FAO Director-General Edouard Saouma to the Extraordinary Economic Summit of the Organization of African Unity in Lagos in April. He urged OAU member nations to grant ''the highest development priority'' to food and agriculture in national and regional economic planning.

Women's group honoured

On its 50th anniversary, the Associated Country Women of the World was awarded FAO's commemorative ceres medal in recognition of its efforts in promoting women's role in rural development.

Recommendations and realities: Women in rural development

Half of the decade that was dedicated to women by the United Nations in the cause of "equality, development and peace" has passed into history. To take stock of what has been achieved in the first five years since a global plan of action was endorsed at a conference in Mexico City in 1975, another conference will be held under UN auspices in Copenhagen in the latter part of July. Without attempting, apparently, to prejudge what the result of this stocktaking exercise will be, the organizers of this year's conference are urging the adoption of a new programme of action for the next five years to be concentrated on the areas of employment, health and education.

Since the majority of the world's women still live in a rural environment where conditions of life are more likely to be measured in concrete rather than abstract terms, a shift in emphasis from such relative concepts as equality, development and peace to more tangible targets like jobs, training and health services may be regarded as a step in the right direction.

Any attempt, however, to provide some global definition for the status of women and to identify specific universal means of enhancing that status is bound to encounter considerable frustration. The role of women in food and agricultural production is already so pervasive in most countries that exhortations to "integrate" women into rural development run the risk of sounding ridiculous. In the institutional sense, however, women very often are excluded from the process of local decision-making that affects their lives and conditions of work. This sense of exclusion creates a dilemma of sorts for those attempting to counteract existing inequalities. Does pleading a special case for women, however justified, imply a risk of further isolation from the mainstreams of social, economic and political activity in which a community's patterns of living are shaped? Many women leaders present at the World Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (WCARRD) in Rome last July were alert to this possibility. While they welcomed the inclusion, within the proposed national programmes of action, of a special item on "the integration of women in rural development," they continued to press for recognition of the legitimate interest and involvement of women in all other sections of the proposed programmes.

The following pages should be read with that concern in mind. In somewhat truncated and condensed form, the major recommendations of WCARRD relating specifically to women are presented against a background of indicative trends and situations. No quantitative or qualitative evaluation of these indicators is attempted, or is even likely possible. For although the UN Decade for Women has undoubtedly inspired a spate of new research into the condition of women, including rural women, these very efforts have underlined the fact that even our basic concepts and methods for collecting and appraising data needed for new insights into the problems of women reveal an inherent male bias that tends to discount the female contribution.

Within the confines of a few magazine pages, all that is possible is to juxtapose some of the aspirations for the betterment of women's lot against flashes of the current actuality as an indication of the challenge that remains.

The research for this special ceres survey was conducted by Florence Sicoli



Governments should consider action to repeal laws and regulations that discriminate against women in regard to ownership, control and inheritance of properly and inhibit effective participation of women in economic transactions and in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of rural development programmes.


Many traditional women's rights in property and inheritance were eroded during the colonial period, and in many cases this phase has been forgotten. Now, a new threat to women's rights appears to arise from post-colonial land settlement schemes, especially in Africa. In Asia and Latin America, colonial rule and legislation along Western lines had already dispossessed women on a massive scale.

In India, where about 60 percent of the rural unemployed are women and 40 to 50 percent of the female labour force are unpaid family workers, the work of women is not recognized in either an economic or a legal sense. Property acquired during marriage is usually in the name of the husband. Inheritance rights of women are uniformly inferior to those of men.

In Latin America, women have virtually no claim to land on the basis of traditional rights, since from the beginning of the colonial conquest land was the focus of increasing demand by European settlers and commercial interests. Peruvian law prohibits a wife from carrying on commercial or professional activity without her husband's approval. Wealth gained from the women's personal property becomes common property under direction of the husband. In Brazil, property and possession of goods during marriage are common, but women are only able to administer these with the authorization of the husband. Under Chilean law, a women's property passes to the control of her husband on marriage, except in rare cases where expensive legal precautions are taken.

It is in resettlement schemes, however, where a completely new system of land tenure applies, that women lose out most drastically. Studies undertaken in such African countries as Kenya, Tanzania and Upper Volta have described situations in which women accustomed to having rights to land were suddenly deprived of them, and proceeds of land and labour were handed over to their husbands or fathers. In some cases, women have been so dissatisfied that they have abandoned the scheme completely. Sometimes their husbands, unable to manage the work alone, have followed.


Governments should consider action to promote ownership rights for women, including joint ownership and co-ownership of land in entirely, to give women producers with absentee husbands effective legal rights to take decisions on the land they manage.


In many countries where women's property and inheritance rights are inferior to those of men, a woman's traditional tenure rights recognized by virtue of her work on her husband's land are often jeopardized in the case of her husband's absence or death.

The 1975 Land Reform Proclamation in Ethiopia, which allows for the allotment of defined parcels of land to families "without differentiation of the sexes" is in marked contrast to the country's civil code which indicates that the husband is the head of the family. While land is registered in the name of the family, wives are not given express and individual right of ownership to the family's land. The proclamation, which entitles the wife or husband to use the land in the event of death of the title holder, has created problems in the polygamous areas where men have been registering only one of their wives, leaving the others to fend for themselves when they become widows.

In Southeast Asia, where vigorous family traditions had always ensured women's land claims, colonial and post-colonial administrations have often transferred women's land rights to men. In Malaysia, men have developed cash crops in the rubber and fruit orchards, while women have managed to retain their subsistence rice and house plots. But in the event that women's plots acquire significant cash value, as happens with commercialization or development, no legal remedies are available to the women to enforce their traditional rights.

Even in some countries where women do have access to land, it is believed more proper for them to work the land only in partnership with male members of the family. In rural Niger, in the case of either divorce or widowhood, Hausa women are not encouraged to remain for long without a husband and only under exceptional circumstances are they left to operate a farm enterprise on their own account.

Shamila's day

Three years ago, the women's section of the Integrated Rural Development Programme (ARDP) in Bangladesh was requested by the Agricultural Development Agencies (ADAB) of that country to record observation studies of a full day of the activities of all the women in a farm family during boro harvest season and to ask the more experienced women in the family about seed care, poultry raising and animal care. The accompanying text, excerpted from the report of IRDP Project Officers Saleha Khatun and Gita Rani with the kind permission of the Ford Foundation, details the dogged, undramatic course of one woman's day, testifying in the description of every task the constant struggle to overcome the constraints of space and time and to reduce waste to the minimum.

Shamila wakes up before daybreak. She looks at the sky to see if it is cloudy. She takes the broom from beside the door and sweeps the courtyard. She spreads the paddy and arranges it on the ground for threshing.

Shamila goes to the cooking room, collects the ashes from the oven (chula) into a broken basket and with a little ash and mud she plasters the outside of the pot that is used to parboil paddy. She does this to protect the pot from high heat, and to keep it, from becoming darkened with smoke. She puts the pot in the oven. She takes dry dung-cakes, husks and jute sticks from where she stored them in the cooking room and puts them near the oven. She brings grain already threshed and cleaned in a basket, puts some straw at the bottom of the pot to keep the grains from burning, fills the pot with water and adds the grains. She starts the fire to heat the oven.

She cleans the dirty utensils and plates from last night's meal, picks up the water pitcher and an old basket and goes to clean the cowshed. She gathers the fresh dung, throws it outside the shed and spreads it to dry. She takes the pitcher to the pond. With her muddy hands she rubs the pitcher, rinses it in the pond and fills it with water.

Shamila returns and serves her husband and children last night's cold rice. She empties the parboiled grains from the pot onto a tom mat in the courtyard and puts a fresh supply of grains in the pot and pushes the jute sticks into the fire.

When her husband finishes eating she serves her mother-in-law and taking a plate of food for herself, she goes and sits near the oven. She puts her child at her breast, tends the fire and eats.

Still carrying the baby, she takes several baskets of grains (already parboiled and dried) to the husking paddle or dheki and pushes the pedal while her mother-in-law alternately stirs the grain in the dheki and winnows what has been husked. Once in a while, Shamila stops husking, goes to the threshing floor to turn the stalks over or to the oven to remove the parboiled grain, put a fresh batch on and rebuild the fire.

When it is time to cook the afternoon meal, she has her mother-in-law do it since she cannot spare the time. She measures out the rice and pulses needed for the meal, washes them and gives them to the mother-in-law to cook.

The stalks are threshed by now so she gathers the straw and stacks H, then collects the grains in a basket and takes them to another part d the courtyard to winnow them. She cleans the remaining grains from the court and puts them in a basket.

Now that the sun is strong she spreads me parboiled grains in the courtyard. She takes the straw and spreads it to dry in the outer courtyard.

Shamila goes to the oven, puts the food into a bowl from which she serves the children.

She winnows the threshed grains and from time to time turns the parboiled grains that are drying in the courtyard. She spreads the just windowed grains for further drying.

She picks up a broom and pitcher, goes to turn the straw that is drying in the outer courtyard and continues on to clean the cow-shed.

She takes the pitcher to the pond, fills it and takes it back for the cows' food bowl. She goes back to the pond, dips herself two or three times, fills the pitcher and carries it to the house.

With her son on her hip, she checks the drying parboiled grains by testing a few grains in her teeth and turns them to dry more.

It is nearing cooking time again. She puts rice on the oven to boil, goes out to pluck eggplant and green chili from the vegetable plot and puts them in the oven to bake.

Her child meanwhile is crawling around her and crying but she does not have time to pick him up and carry him. Her mother-in-law is too old to carry the child.

Shamila finishes cooking and sets out the food. She washes her son and picks him up. She suckles him while she is walking about and supervising the other.

The labourers have returned with the harvest and stack it in a comer. Her husband tells her to feed the labourers. She gives them rice, lentils, eggplant and sago. They eat on the veranda.

Shamila feeds the other children. When everyone has eaten, she and her mother-in-law sit and eat. By now it is 10 o'clock. She puts the cow and goat In the cowshed, takes some pan and lies on the bedding to rest.



Governments should consider action to ensure equal access to productive assets, such as land, livestock and existing social and economic services, and equal membership and voting rights in organizations such as tenants' associations, labour unions, cooperatives, credit unions, etc.


Even the best, most self-reliant cooperatives reflect sexual bias. Throughout the world, all but a few cooperatives are dominated by men. Although cooperative principles clearly forbid discrimination against women, the heavy weight of tradition has meant that many cooperatives do not really allow women to take leadership roles. Indeed, in many agricultural cooperatives women are not full members, because the by-laws specify that membership is open to the person who is the farm operator or owner. In most cases the husband is the legal landowner (in some countries women are not allowed to own land) and is considered the agricultural producer even though in many countries most of the farm work is done by women.

In rural Niger, the economic unit of production among the Hausa people is generally described as the household or gandu. All females and dependent males contribute five days' labour each week on the household farms that are under the direction of a male household head. This obligation takes precedence over work that women may do in their own fields. An increasing proportion of the produce of the gandus, mainly groundnuts for export, is sold on the market through cooperatives, yet women have no customary right to this cash income despite their contribution to household production.

Despite figures indicating that women are responsible for 40 to 80 percent of all agricultural production in developing countries and that about 30 percent of rural families in these countries are headed by women, women have often been overlooked as possible beneficiaries of development programmes and existing services.

In two villages of Bangladesh, development project officers have reported that although husbands have access to the new technology of improved seed, the women who process rice and care for animals and gardens are doing their work with traditional technology. In some cases improved technology does not exist, but in relation to products like insecticides, poultry vaccines and modern veterinary supplies which do exist, less than one quarter of the women surveyed had access to these products.

Another area of neglect is improvements of tools used by women in the production of household artifacts because they are not seen as contributing to the market economy. Since women frequently do house construction, the improvements related to water conservation, drainage, sanitation and building of methane tanks for fuel as well as improved food storage facilities do not lie outside their range of competence.

One of the aims of the Animation feminine programme, launched in Niger in 1976, was to provide greater access for women to such agricultural inputs as seeds and fertilizers. Village animatrices were given short training courses and charged with the responsibility of passing on information to and taking orders from their clientele. Most of the animatrices were widows or divorcees since married women were not permitted to attend training courses away from their village plots.

In Turkey, most women workers in agriculture, who comprise nearly 90 percent of the total female labour force, have fewer privileges, less security and lower wages than their urban counterparts. Many, in fact, are family labourers who receive no cash income at all. In spite of their work in the fields, they are economically dependent on men and have little direct influence in decision-making. They are forbidden to frequent many of the places where men go, such as coffee houses, or to become members of a cooperative.


Governments should consider action to strength en non-formal educational schemes for rural women in leader ship training, agricultural instruction as well as non-farm activities (health care, child-rearing, family planning, nutrition) and broaden extension programmes to support women's roles in agricultural production, processing, preservation and marketing.


Women play a vital role in producing, preparing and distributing food supplies, but few of the strategies developing countries are following call for the effective training and participation of women in agricultural production, storage, marketing and processing of food.

Policy-makers in some developing countries, with encouragement from aid agencies, have used Western traditions as a model for giving extension services and training primarily to men, thus reducing women's participation in the food cycle.

USAID, for example, finances education projects involving the training of teachers and nurses, as well as family planning projects, but the traditional projects on agricultural production or institution building have seldom paid specific attention to the role of women.

The need for a new approach to project design was acknowledged by one former USAID Administrator when he declared: "Unless and until women are given the education and technical training to increase food production, there is little hope of improving productivity levels of the whole society in developing countries."

In the Philippines, the literacy rate of rural women is fairly high (77 percent). Yet women are not taught the rudiments of agricultural production techniques, nor permitted contact with agricultural extension workers, despite the fact that they are heavily involved in agricultural production and decision-making.

Some development programmes geared to women's activities have been underutilized because they do not fit with daily work patterns. New patterns of water availability, for example, are imposed on women rather than developed in consultation with them.

I his means that women frequently do not make use of new facilities and continue burdensome and often harmful practices to meet their needs.

In other cases, approaches to health care tend to undermine women's traditional self-reliance. Researchers in rural Indonesia have reported that medical professionals were providing services but not relaying knowledge with the result that women undervalued the programme because it was believed to promote dependency.

The training of local women to work in the rural areas surrounding a family planning clinic is seen as a solution to the crisis that many rural clinics are experiencing because of the lack of trained personnel willing to work in remote areas. Serious constraints also are faced by some World Bank projects in Africa where male extension workers are not permitted to communicate directly with the women working in the fields. This problem could be resolved if women were trained in agricultural extension work.



Governments should consider action to promote collective action by rural women to facilitate their participation in economic, political, social and educational activities, and to establish systems with the involvement of women's organizations that will identify obstacles to women's participation in these activities.


Governments and development projects are predominantly male staffed and are often less able to relate to the needs and goals of individual female farmers and groups, and less able to take into account women's co-equal role in the rural family and productive activities.

Yet women in most traditional societies have already displayed a capacity for self-organization, whether in the form of the relatively visible women's councils of Africa or the women's bathhouse networks in purdah-keeping Muslim societies. African women's groups have already identified more needs, including training in food preservation, simple drip irrigation techniques, animal diseases and access to wells and two-wheeled carts for transporting water and firewood.

In contrast to the active African women's groups, the 60 000 village women's clubs in rural India have suffered from a lack of clear objectives and of attention to women's multiple roles within and outside the home. The programme which created the clubs as part of its rural development aim has viewed rural women as a homogeneous group whose primary role is homemaking. It has emphasized the training of better-off women in home management, while the needy or weaker groups, particularly the workers, have been served only through feeding and similar programmes.


Governments should consider action to revise procedures for the collection of statistical data for the identification of women's participation in productive activities.


Statistics on women and agriculture in developing countries show that in most of sub-Saharan Africa, much of Southeast Asia and some parts of Latin America, women make up 50 to 60 percent of the agricultural labour force. They not only till, sow, weed, and harvest in these countries, but also prepare and cook food in all countries of the world. Yet this involvement does not mean that women control food production. On the contrary, they have been invisible, because in many parts of the world they are involved primarily in subsistence farming, in providing the actual food that the family eats, while men tend to be involved in cash-crop production. It is men who make up the statistics on paid agricultural labour and it is their production that figures in the gross national product. The social sciences have not developed adequate concepts concerning the role of women. The research gap has been aggravated by the near invisibility of most rural women and the lack of women researchers. Under these conditions, it is difficult to determine women's points of view about their situation.

South Asia, for instance, has been considered an area where women are traditionally non-participants in economic life, secluded and oppressed within the home. In these circumstances, it would be reasonable to assume that reports on their economic activity would involve substantial under-counting and that there would be much hidden employment in the form of unpaid family labour. Yet Nepal, India and Sri Lanka report that women comprise 42, 36 and 25 percent respectively of all persons employed in agriculture. In Pakistan, the figure is 14 percent. In Nepal and India, women represent 78 and 66 percent respectively of all self-employed persons. This suggests that there is already available a very large pool of women with the kind of experience useful for community development and increasing rural productivity.


Governments should consider action to strengthen and establish programmes, such as day-care centres, that will ease the burden of women's household work in order to permit their greater participation in economic, educational and political activities, as well as promote understanding of men's responsibilities to share household duties.


Women in developing countries contribute long hours of work on their husbands' farms, in addition to their self-employment (in agriculture, trade and crafts) and their domestic duties. And it is normal in traditional African marriages for women to support themselves and their children and to cook for the husband, often using food they produce themselves.

Yet there are few, if any, instances of organized day-care centres for rural women, and it is an infrequent practice on the part of farming husbands to care for children or sharehousehold duties to allow women time to engage in activities outside the home.

In a study of rural Kenyan market women, the women most frequently said that their older children tend to household, garden, animal and childraising duties when they are away from home on market business. The contribution of children is quite high even for a task like livestock tending, which is ordinarily regarded as a man's responsibility.

A small number of the women said they rely on hired labour or help from relatives. The reported low contribution of the husband in housework reflects a customary pattern in this and other countries.

While traditional sex differentiation of household and farming tasks makes the easing of women's work a longterm social project, certain other time-consuming tasks for farm women could be resolved by improved technology. For example, a World Bank study on appropriate technology to relieve the burden of fetching water supplies revealed that rural women in Kenya spend from three to six hours per day to get water for the household, often carrying it by head load.


Governments should consider action to ensure equal education for both sexes and provide special incentives such as reduced fees for increased enrollment of females in schools and training programmes.


Fifty-four years ago, there were only 43 Egyptian girls attending secondary school; by 1971 there were half a million. Since 1950, the female share of university enrolments has doubled in Japan, tripled in Nigeria, quadrupled in Pakistan and quintupled in Thailand. Enrolment of females in primary and secondary schools has nearly caught up with that of males in many countries. Yet nearly two thirds of the world's illiterate population is female As the number of illiterate men rose by 8 million between 1960 and 1970, the number of illiterate women increased by 40 million, bringing the total number of women unable to read or write to 500 million. Although the absolute number of illiterate women is increasing, the percentage of all women who cannot read or write is decreasing - from 45 percent in 1960 to 40 percent in 1970. In some countries the literacy differences between older and younger female age groups have become striking.

In an effort to raise the educational level of their populations, many countries have begun to shift away from sole reliance on formal schooling (to which women's access has always been limited by conflicting domestic responsibilities) toward informal mass literacy drives, in which women often form the majority of participants. Many countries - including China, Cuba, Chile, Brazil, Somalia, Indonesia and Bangladesh - have tried mass literacy campaigns with only mixed success. Equal education for women is hampered by a whole set of mutually dependent ideas and traditions that define and limit the female role. In developing countries, the acute shortage of educational facilities, in combination with a belief that boys should be educated first, effectively excludes many girls. Travel to a distant school is often necessary and girls' attendance is limited by beliefs that they should not travel alone or live apart from family supervision. Children's labour often contributes vitally to the economic viability of the poorer household.


Governments should consider action to guarantee equal pay for equal work and promote income-generating opportunities for women.


Four case studies covering different types of industry in India, Malaysia. Singapore and Mexico all produced evidence to support the conclusion that entry into the paid labour force was not necessarily a liberating factor for women. The pace of work was reported to be extremely intense in all four cases. The piece rate system of work in Calcutta was set so low that long hours of intensive work were necessary to secure sufficient income for family survival. Women in Malaysian electronics factories earned significantly more than local women in other industries such as textiles. In Singapore, the majority of the female workers in textile manufacturing are clustered at the bottom of the wage scale. The study of the Mexican border industries indicates that women textile workers are constituted as a separate, secondary category of the labour force and are not permitted the same rights as male workers. Women here were routinely assigned unskilled jobs. All three factory-based studies found that while the vast majority of employees were women, supervisors and management, except at the lowest level, were invariably men. One important factor common to all four cases was the absence of virtually any legislation protecting or guaranteeing workers' rights on such matters as health and safety, job security, minimum wages, fringe benefits, trade union organization.

In India, two government directives on employment apply to women - one for equal pay for equal work and one for humane work conditions - but these principles are not enforceable by any court. Both in pre- and post-independent India, women have received a lower rate of pay. In the state of Madhya Pradesh, for example, the rate prescribed for male sowers is Rs. 44.75; for female sowers doing the same job the Government fixed the rate at Rs. 31.25. In the southern state of Tamil Nadu, the rate for male sowers is Rs. 48.25 but Rs. 30 for the female sower.


Governments should consider action to minimize the possible negative effects on women's employment arising from changes in traditional economic patterns.


Mechanization and cash cropping introduced in some countries by governments and agencies' development projects have sometimes deprived women of their former rights to employment, since they are often the least-skilled of workers, and of their capability to produce food for family consumption and cash income.

A well-documented example is found in the village of Rio Hondo in the sugarcane district of the Yucatan Peninsula where women were formerly heavily engaged in gardening, animal husbandry and market trade of the produce and animals. Following the rapid rise of sugarcane production in 1973, land became critically in demand, thereby decreasing the crops cultivated by women and the amount of local produce for human and animal consumption.

Only the wealthy farmers made the transition to a market economy, the poorer ones earning insufficient cash to acquire goods and the women being relegated solely to domestic tasks.

Despite the economic boom for some, women lost their sources of income and with no money coming into the household and local produce reduced, child nutrition remained marginally low.

''Women are not benefiting from the modernization of agriculture''

An interview with Marie-Angque Savan

Marie-Angque Savana Senegalese sociologist, is coordinator of the research project on the effects of socioeconomic change on woman's condition, launched by the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development. She was interviewed last December by Armelle Braun, a contributing editor to ceres.

ceres: What is the most important aspect of the research you are about to undertake?

M-A SavanI think the most interesting aspect of this project is, above all, its conceptual approach. For once, particularly as far as Africa is concerned, the female condition will be analysed in the context of a society's history, instead of considering it solely as a sectoral or secondary aspect of that society. People still talk about "peasants" in general and refuse to consider women's work as productive work leading to a certain kind of accumulation of capital. We are starting from the hypothesis that, in studying the rural world, one must begin with the division of work between the sexes. If reforms are to be introduced to improve living conditions in the countryside, the extent of each person's participation must first be known. How can people talk about the causes of rural poverty without ever mentioning the subject of women? But this happens every day.

Despite economic growth, food production has become stationary or even dropped, particularly in Africa. However, no one has drawn attention to the role of women in this sector, and as long as their participation is unknown or deliberately ignored, all manner of possible or imaginable solutions can be proposed without solving the problem. Take the modernization of agriculture, for example: it is becoming more and more obvious that women are not benefiting from it, and that in fact it has a fairly negative impact on their living and working conditions. But from the technical point of view, modernization can always be presented as a positive factor.

Q.: How does the monetarization of the agricultural economy affect power structures in the peasant communities, and what is its impact on rural women?

A. The agricultural situation in Africa can no longer be considered in a uniform way. Studies have shown that the penetration of capital into agriculture remodels power structures in the rural world. In Senegal, for example, in the course of one survey the field researchers told me, "The funny thing is that the 'slaves' (so called in ethnological literature and now known as 'captives') are often richer than their ax-owners." It is interesting to see how the hierarchy of rural classes has been turned upside down. New moneyed classes are emerging, completely separate from the former local hierarchies. In some countries, loans granted by the state to certain peas ants or traditional districts, or the dynamism of farmers following the new methods being taught them, have led to the emergence of very wealthy peasants. But there are also many more agricultural labourers than before. Formerly, many agricultural labourers had links with one particular family; they came to work for it every year, and sometimes ended up by marrying one of the daughters, establishing themselves and enjoying land-use rights. But the penetration of capital and mechanization have put an end to all that, particularly in countries with big plantations, where this situation is not new. However, this new stratification is still in process; it is not so well defined that one can immediately say: "Look, the peasant has discovered the way to get rich."

It is true that the problem of land in Africa is not so acute as in Asia or, to a lesser extent, in Latin America. In Africa, we have no large estates like the latifundia, but what seems to me important is that the small peasantry is disappearing, since the small peasant is less and less able to hold his own in the face of competition.

In the countries with big plantations the proletarianization of the men is accentuated, and it is interesting to see what becomes of the women. Some of the men emigrate voluntarily, for example from Upper Volta to the Ivory Coast, and in this case the women must choose between following their husbands and staying in the village.

When the plantations are near the village, the men become agricultural labourers and the women become the principal food producers. The role of women in food production is already well known, but we have never been shown that there are cases where they alone are responsible for feeding the family. The men's wages are affected by the fact that women are entirely occupied by this production and without remuneration, since some of their needs are met by the unpaid labour of the women. Not only do the latter make a hidden contribution to the economy, but also the exploitation of the Third World is largely on their shoulders because of the unpaid work they do to maintain their families.

Bearing in mind the social stratification I mentioned, women's interests are certainly going to be divergent. A rich planter's wife knows nothing about agriculture any more; a woman whose husband owns a number of agricultural inputs (machines, etc.) works far less. But available studies show that the more mechanization advances, the more women are marginalized. Any productive work they do is manual. The husband can clear a field completely with his machines; the wife then turns to gathering cotton (this happened in Senegal), and will gradually be excluded from this too because of mechanization.

What we want to do in our survey is to raise the problem of women's future in the process of agricultural mechanization. What will happen to the female labour force? Shall we even take a step backward and shut them up in their homes, or will it be possible to create small-scale industries or other forms of production to accommodate women? Where will they find the income to carry on?

Q.: Do you think the elimination of women from the agricultural sector is irreversible? Could they not be given some technical training?

A.: That is indeed a possibility - but it is unlikely to happen. I was really talking in the context of existing systems. I can hardly see the governments in our countries, struggling with the already enormous problem of male unemployment and underemployment, creating work for women when there is not enough for men. It must be remembered that men have far greater political weight; they are much more demanding, they form trade unions and join political movements that are difficult to control. Women, on the other hand, are far more centred on the family and the home, since they have been specially trained for these roles. Moreover, women have no direct access to land. In many African countries they have no ownership rights, so how could they have access to mechanization? And then, we now have the concept of the head of the household, the person who can obtain credit facilities; women are excluded by this definition. There is also a whole mentality to be changed if women are to be on an equal footing with men. It is possible that we shall reach a situation similar to that of the industrialized countries, but I don't think so. I think that the international division of labour is such that there is practically no chance that developing countries will reach this level. In our countries there will always be pockets of super-development, very sophisticated, where perhaps women will be driving tractors, but that would surprise me very much. But if countries now launch out into structural changes, like Mozambique, which is proclaiming egalitarianism, I don't see why there should not be more effective use of the potential of women.

Q.: Could you give more details about the question of access to land so far as women are concerned?

A.: A distinction must be made between practice and legislation. Our laws are certainly modern in concept, and take no account of reality. In general, women are not landowners, and in many regions, every year or every two years, the husband allocates a certain number of parcels of land to his dependents and his women. There has been much talk of the distance between these parcels and the bad state they are in: it is always true. This land does not belong to the women, it belongs to the group and to the head of the family who does what he pleases with it. If the women divorces, she loses this right of use and must return to her family. If the latter has land, she will be given some; otherwise she will work with her mother or elsewhere.

In some countries you will be told: "We have agrarian reform, we have laws on public property, etc." But when a state takes charge of all land, it is not necessarily in the interests of the peasant. The state says: "In fact, ownership has always been collective; we are merely going back to a traditional custom." In practice, however, this means that the state can at any moment dispossess the peasants and give their lands, sometimes the best, to big transnational companies that have just set up some agribusiness. The African countryside is thus being completely upset; this should be realized, and also the limitations on action by non-governmental organizations (NGOS). Governments manoeuvre so that the state will not have to be responsible for the poor; if you study development plans, you will see that projects to benefit the poor are not taken on by governments but by outside organizations, and in the case of women, it is even worse: almost everything to do with women comes from outside, which shows that governments refuse to undertake the cost of development for women.

Q.: How can you react to this? What remunerative activities can be established for women?

A.: There are many NGOS and international organizations, UNICEF in particular, that are trying to create paid jobs for women, but it is always very difficult. I support these projects very strongly, but I also have my doubts, because you cannot create a series of projects for income-generating activities without reviewing market structures. Take, for example, handicrafts. In the few projects that really work, the handicraft products are always sold abroad; the organization launching the project finds the means to cart these products to Western countries, or other countries of the region.

Q.: Should women take over the marketing of the product?

A.: Among other things. What must be aroused first of all is the spirit of initiative. It must be the women who organize themselves, and I think that here information has an extremely important role to play. Women must understand that they have to solve their own problems. They have already made a beginning, but they are doing it within the family, in an isolated way. Whereas if there were women's organizations at village and regional level, this could have a considerable impact. It only takes several villages, or a region, to specialize in certain products to create trade on the domestic market. What is needed on the national level is awareness, and a women's organization to coordinate paid activities.

Q.: Doesn't this awareness exist already? Is it encouraged?

A.: It exists already at several levels. When you look at Africa, you have the impression that nothing is being done precisely because of this lack of information, communication and coordination. In fact, there are many traditional associations for mutual aid and solidarity. Sometimes women even work together to solve a problem often local unfortunately which concerns the village. The trouble is that these organizations don't make any propaganda, and especially that everything is done in a traditional framework where existing hierarchies are accepted: the traditional relationships between men and women are not questioned. The problem is to reach these women.

Q.: Is polygamy justified from the economic viewpoint, or is it just custom that persists although the reason for it has long ceased to be valid? Who benefits most from it?

A.: We must distinguish between polygamy in the towns and polygamy in the country. In the present state of our agriculture where rudimentary production methods are still used, the labour force is very important, particularly the female labour force. And precisely because of women's role in agricultural work, the more wives a man has, the more children he is likely to have, and therefore the more hands to work. In the context of rural life, this does not really bother the women because they can share the chores between them. In the country co-wives live rather like sisters and not like rivals. It is very rare to find women in a rural environment who complain about the existence of other wives. It is in the towns that polygamy can no longer be justified; not a single woman wants it. What the woman wants is to have a good (and more exclusive) relationship with her husband.

Q.: And the men?

A.: I think men like to have several women exclusively for themselves. But in town the husband cannot, unless he is very rich, give each wife a home of her own; so they all live together. Each has a separate room, and the husband spends two nights in each room. But these are townswomen. Their behaviour is not governed by the social standards according to which resentment, even if felt, was never expressed; so there are rivalries and squabbles ... As for the husband, sometimes he is the worst off of all, because his wives join together against him; or else they are all against each other, but always against him.

From the economic point of view, this situation is no longer logical. Children's education is more and more expensive and wives are more and more demanding. There must be equality of gifts, so for three wives everything has to be bought in triplicate - it's tremendous! And then, with aspirations for a better standard of living, a man cannot have with three wives the same material comforts he would have with one. Economically, therefore, the situation becomes untenable, at least for the middle classes. The rich have no problem, since they have several houses.

Q.: Tell me a bit about migrant women.

A.: One of the first people to write on this subject, Kenneth Little, assumed that women only emigrate to follow their husbands, whereas in fact female migrants are, increasingly, young unmarried women who go to the town to look for work. This is mainly because of the land problem, which we have already discussed. Now girls emigrate at a very young age. In the big African cities, it is not unusual to see ten-or twelve-year-old girls working as maids for paltry wages. But the most interesting are the ones aged between 16 and 21. They often arrive without knowing a soul. There are some districts where groups of people from different races or villages have come together, reconstructing a kind of village social relationship; this offers a certain protection to a minority of these girls. There are three avenues open to young migrants: to become domestic servants, as we have seen; to become workers in the food industries that are starting up almost everywhere, where they are hired by the day in very difficult conditions (there is no social or job security). There are many unmarried mothers among them, because they know nothing about contraception. Finally, the last possibility: prostitution. There is room for research on that subject, too.

Q.: It's never mentioned ...

A.: It's never mentioned, but it is a phenomenon developing at a staggering rate, particularly in the big African towns that are full of tourists, or even, which is serious, in the country, where "tourist villages" have sprung up. It is usually said that nothing can be done for the migrant women, since they have no training. This is partly true. But often, on the contrary, they are up to the General Certificate of Education standard - they are not illiterate and they speak English or French. This indeed is why they come to the towns, thinking they will be able to find work. But in view of the development rate of women's jobs, the market will be saturated and there will be female unemployment, whatever the qualifications of these women.

Just now we were talking about domestic servants. Some women's associations have been thinking of creating reception centres to meet the enormous problem raised by these women: they become pregnant and often have abortions in very difficult conditions. These centres could educate them and provide them with the means to defend themselves in the towns. Governments, too, should think again about their responsibilities.

Q.: What is the government position on abortion? Is it an accepted practice in African societies?

A.: Abortion is not generally accepted in Africa except in countries that have adopted a family planning policy, which means that there is flexibility. But there is practically no legislation on abortion. In general it is excluded or forbidden by popular morality. But in practice, abortion is spreading, and any doctor will confirm this. More and more young women, particularly in the towns, are having sexual relationships at an early age. They are not properly informed, and abortion becomes a method of contraception. I think governments should soften their line with regard to sex education in school and elsewhere.

Q.: So as far as information on contraception is concerned, government legislation is repressive?

A.: Yes, in most of the French-speaking countries, the French law of 1920 is still in force.

Q.: Is there beginning to be a protest movement, a real wave of public opinion?

A.: No, nobody dares to speak out, and I think this is the failure of women's movements. Legislation should be revised, and governments should recognize contraception as a human right. In most English-speaking countries there is much greater freedom, at least so far as the sale of contraceptives is concerned. Nowadays, in a country like Senegal, because there is an opening at the highest level, people know they can talk about it. I have often given lectures on family planning in schools, at the request of the directors.

Q.: You have tackled the subject in "Famille & Dloppement," for example?

A.: Yes, several times, and it has had considerable repercussions: the subject was taboo!

Victims of old-fashioned statistics

At least half of the women in the world are directly dependent upon agriculture for their livelihood. Most of these are engaged in subsistence agriculture, either entirely responsible for feeding their families or working together with men on the family or communal land. In many countries, especially in Africa, women are the mainstay of the agricultural economy as in other countries they are the core of the domestic economy, obtaining food, clothing and shelter for their families. Yet, even in Africa, the number of men employed in agriculture is estimated at almost twice that of women. For the whole world, the estimate of the number of men working in agriculture is 1.68 times that of women. In 1970, the International Labour Office (ILO) estimated that 287 million women in the world were employed in agriculture, while the corresponding figure for men was 481 million.

With the exception of a few countries, women who support themselves or their families as farmers or agricultural workers are statistically invisible. It is difficult to imagine how women who labour from dawn until dusk on weeding, hoeing, drying grain, tending chickens, carrying water, feeding their families and often also selling some fruits and vegetables in the market could not be counted as working and not contributing to the national economy. Yet, this is what national statistics often show. This statistical neglect is not without cost. Since they do not figure in national statistics, women are too easily excluded from national development planning, with the result that development programmes directed to women are few. Programmes directed to men are at times directly contrary to the interests of women and consequently not well received, sometimes even sabotaged by women. The result may be a badly limping development effort that accentuates sex differences and fosters progress for one sex at the expense of the other, and often no development at all.

The reasons for ignoring women's work statistically are many and varied. In a large part of the world, it is the result of old-fashioned statistical systems, as ill-adapted to developing countries as they were to the colonies of the past. In other parts, it reflects the dichotomy between industrial and household production, between social and domestic labour, and the resultant tendency to split workers into two groups - the labour force and those outside the labour force - rather than measuring degrees of work. The reasons touch closely upon the definition of economic and non-economic activities, between activities to be measured and included in GNP and statistics outside its sphere. And, no doubt, they also reflect, at times, a tendency to consider the activities of men more worthy of measuring and documenting than those of women.

To be meaningful, development planning must be based on adequate data for the entire population, not just the male half. Even estimates of agricultural output or gross domestic product per worker - rather straightforward procedures - cannot be made without accurate estimates of the agricultural labour force, i.e., both male and female workers. If large numbers of women active in agriculture are omitted from estimates of the labour force, this underestimate of the agricultural labour force will result in an overestimation of agricultural output and productivity per worker.

To get better data on women working in agriculture, particularly women active in small-scale and subsistence agriculture, we need a new statistical outlook using concepts, measures and methods of collecting and analysing data better suited to the work of women.

For a new statistical outlook to be useful, however, it is also important to bear in mind that it should produce data more useful for planning purposes; show greater sensitivity to the policy issues of development and the integration of women in develop meet, in particular; be adaptable to a wide variety of local circumstances, yet be internationally comparable; and be compatible with existing measures of economic activity, both to provide comparability with the past and to be useful in the overall statistical system.

The need for compatibility with existing statistical measures suggests, paradoxically, that a system of statistics on women's work in agriculture must be built on standard measures of economic activity, however deficient these may have shown themselves to be in past practice.

To fill out a bare picture

Although women's work has special characteristics and measurement requirements that must be taken into account, special measures and questions on women can never be substituted for standard measures. Rather, they must be seen as an addition to basic labour force measures, to fill out an otherwise bare picture.

Standard labour force concepts have shown themselves deficient with respect to the very definition of economic activity and with respect to the whole range of agricultural work, seasonal work, multiple activities, "women's work," part-time work, work for payment in kind, work as an unpaid family member, work done at home, work in the informal sector of the economy - agricultural or not. Since it is also in these types of work that so many women are found, expanding and refining traditional employment statistics on them will improve the coverage of women's work in agriculture.

In addition, the dichotomization of economic activity into two categories, the economically active and the inactive, too often tends to put women into the inactive category, even when they do some work. If, instead, labour force participation is viewed as a continuum, it becomes possible to collect and tabulate information on different amounts of work, and the less intensive involvement of women can more easily be documented.

Statistics on women may also be improved by adopting the "gainful worker" approach in combination with the "labour force" approach, particularly when it comes to seasonal work, which characterizes in large part women's work in agriculture. In the gainful worker approach, a person is considered economically active if normally engaged in an occupation for direct or indirect remuneration. The reference period is usually one year. In the labour force approach, on the other hand, a person is economically active if a) at work for pay or profit during a specified brief period, either one week or one day, b) with a job but not at work or c) unemployed.

The gainful worker approach is less apt to omit a woman's work because she was not working in the week preceding the survey, but in stressing usual activity, it sometimes tends to classify women as housewives and overlook their seasonal and intermittent work. Care should be exercised that seasonal work be recorded even when it is not a full-time activity and even when non-economic activities such as housework are performed more regularly.

The labour force approach, by recording the economic activity of the preceding week, can provide better coverage of work not done on a regular basis, but will miss all work, including seasonal work, not taking place in the reference week.

The two approaches should therefore be used to complement each other: the gainful worker approach to "catch" regular, including seasonal activities, and the labour force approach to record the entire span of activities, regardless of their frequency, of the preceding week. When the labour force approach cannot be repeated several times a year to cover the work of the entire agricultural season, it is particularly important that it be combined with the gainful worker approach.

In rural areas of developing countries, many people piece together a living by engaging in several kinds of work. A woman may help with the harvest, make baskets and grow chillies, which she sells in the market for cash. A man may be a blacksmith but also own and cultivate land. Thus, unless a survey questionnaire probes for multiple work activities, working time, income and production may be underreported for men as well as women. Since domestic duties occupy much of women's time, small-scale and short-duration activities are particularly easy to overlook, unless special care is taken to record them. Similarly, an investigation of activity patterns and time use will yield the necessary information on multiple activities.

A lower time limit

Traditionally, those working less than full time are classified as part-time workers if working one third or more of normal working hours, usually not less than 15 hours. Those working less than 15 hours per week are usually classified as not economically active. Again, the large majority of these workers, classified as not working and not being in the labour force, are women. In order to include the work of women who are not even counted as part-time workers often because they were busy with housework and worked fewer hours than the usual minimum requirement for part-time work, it is in many cases useful to adopt a lower time limit for recording less than full-time work. In the measurement of underemployment, ILO has proposed the following categories of hours per week: less than 15, 15-34, 35-39, 40-47, 48 and over. Although these categories may be somewhat too precise for work in agriculture, adopting a categorization, including the less-than-15 category, would be especially helpful in "catching" more of women's invisible work.

It is also important to pay more attention to what constitutes work in agriculture - both in the monetized and in the non-monetized sector. Even when they are not responsible for a certain crop, women often help out or engage in a number of subsidiary activities in the fields and gardens. They also participate in a whole range of agricultural work within the confines of the home or farmstead that cannot be labelled "housework" and ignored statistically. Agricultural production, we must remember, includes, in addition to preparing the soil, sowing and harvesting, also weeding, tending, processing, transporting, storing and marketing the product, as well as harvesting and processing by-products of the main crop. In many cultures a large part of this work is done by women, along with the care of small animals, poultry or dairying. Not infrequently, women also provide services to others working in agriculture, e.g., cooking and transporting food to those working in the fields.

Such activities should be included in measuring work in agriculture and farming - not only because they are frequently performed by women, but also because they constitute an essential part of agricultural production. If emphasis is placed on statistics of work rather than of workers, these activities will naturally be included without undue strain on standard statistical concepts. A survey of activities or a time-use study is especially suited to collecting such data. In a regular survey, it is the work that women do as unpaid family work - often on a part-time basis when more labour is needed - work for payment in kind rather than cash, and work done at home that should receive the additional attention required to define and record it accurately, for it is an essential input to agricultural production.

Other easily omitted activities are those that are on the borderline between housework and economic work, e.g., raising chickens, cultivating vegetables near the house, processing food which is at least partly for sale, taking in laundry, knitting, weaving and the like. Since these activities contribute to the gross domestic product, they constitute market work. Omitting them lowers the employment estimates for women compared to those for men, for these borderline activities, by their very nature, tend to be women's work. To reduce this type of underreporting, it is necessary to probe extensively by checking through a list of local agricultural activities or by a chronological recording of the activities of the preceding day.

No longer as rigid

Whether to include "housework," i.e., cooking, cleaning and child care, as economic activity or not remains a major point of debate. Without settling this complex issue, it is nevertheless possible to suggest a solution as part of our overall framework. If economic activity is measured and tabulated as a continuum rather than as a dichotomy of those inside or outside the labour force, the distinction between housework and economic activity need no longer remain as rigid as before. Several different measures of time spent on work, housework or market work, may be devised, e.g., market production, home production and housework activities, or production intended for sale or for pay and for household or family use. The different types of work should be recorded separately and then tabulated separately and together. The dividing line between household production and market production has never been easy to draw, but when information on several different types of activity is collected and tabulated, the classification becomes less restrictive.

In getting better coverage of women in agriculture, efforts should be directed to a wide variety of statistical sources. Population or agriculture censuses must be complemented by sample surveys. It must be remembered that the different vehicles for data collection, whether censuses surveys or even administrative records, lend themselves to collecting fundamentally different types of data. We cannot expect a census to produce a great deal more than a general overview and a sampling frame for later, more detailed analysis for separate areas or for the whole country. For instance, a 1-percent sample in a census or a national survey based on the census sampling frame can be used to obtain the further detail needed. However, even such surveys cannot be expected to provide all details for all data users. Although the national statistical systems with considerably expanded coverage and detail on women should always be the mainstay in data collection, small-scale and special surveys provide flexibility, independence and openness to new issues that are of value.

With repeat visits

The timing of the survey or census is also of importance in measuring the seasonal work of women. In order not to interfere with the busiest times of the agricultural year, censuses or surveys are often taken during the slack periods. Women who are very busy during peak-labour seasons but much less active in the slack season are then easily left out of the labour force. Ideally, surveys should be designed with repeat visits spread over the year. When this is not possible, the longer reference period of the gainful worker approach and the shorter reference period of the labour force approach should be used together.

In measuring women's work, the role of the interviewer is of paramount importance. Without a thorough understanding on the part of the interviewer of the special problems in measuring women's work, conceptual innovations come to naught. It falls upon the interviewer to ascertain all the kinds of work women do, i.e., economic as well as non-economic activities. This distinction (which in practice has become a rather loose statistical construction around the basic concept of direct contribution of labour to the gross domestic product) is far too complex to be made by the respondent herself, or even by the interviewer, and should instead be made when data are coded and classified. This, of course, will also permit a less rigid set of classifications as already discussed.

But the interviewer must also be made aware that statistical tradition, his own expectations, a woman's eagerness to provide the expected and socially most acceptable answer, her husband's - and thereby also her own - social standing as the competent provider of the family, and the immediate expectations of those present conspire toward the underestimation and statistical invisibility of women's work.

To overcome these difficulties, the interviewer must inquire about all of women's activities in detail. He or she must ascertain the type of crops grown and the kind of animals raised in the household, and specifically ask each woman about work with each of these. Also, he or she must not be content with one answer but must probe by asking repeatedly about all the different types of work performed to ensure that the marginal or part-time activities that women so often do are included.

How the results are tabulated, finally, will make a significant difference in the information provided on the labour force participation of women. Making all tabulations by sex is a basic step in studying the work of women. Particularly when the work of women is investigated with the detail recommended above, tabulations by sex provide rather a complete picture of the agricultural labour force. Gross-tabulations for the various categorizations of pay, no-pay, cash-kind, family work, work outside the family, at home, away from home, etc., fill out the picture further.

By leaving the distinction of economic activity to the coding phase of the survey, a more precise and consistent definition of economic activity becomes possible. It is no longer necessary to use the rather artificial dichotomy between economic activity and non-economic activity. Rather, work may be measured in several degrees of intensity, also useful in the study of the utilization of labour, to complement as well as to expand upon the two-way classification of of those inside and outside the labour force. Borderline activities may or may not be included in the count of economic activity and the results given together. Also, estimates of the labour force may be made cumulatively, so that the first activity only, then first and second activity together, and finally first, second and third activity together may be presented. Classifications of this sort give a considerably fuller and more correct account of women's many activities without losing comparability with the simple two-way classifications of the past.

The sexual division of labour

In addition, it is frequently useful to compare the two sexes on different aspects of work in agriculture through indices of percent female or the sex ratio, i.e., the ratio of males to females, on each item tabulated. For instance, the sex ratio of labour force participation, the sex ratio of unpaid family workers illustrate the sexual division of labour in agriculture.

In reshaping our thinking about development to combat poverty and improve the standard of living rather than bring about a mechanical increase in the GNP, it becomes essential to have data on the daily life and work of the population, including that of women. Because of the key roles that women play both in the sustenance of their families and the socialization of the young, in community affairs and in agricultural production, it is clear that statistics on the economic roles of women are an essential part of the data needed for both economic and social development planning.

Centring on Health

The double burden of heavy farm work and family leaves its mark on the women of the Peruvian altiplano. Nutritional support and voluntary health services are offering some glimmer of hope

by Daphne Wilson-Ecoli

For most of the developing world, the main issue of women's health is still a desperate need for basic health care, sadly lacking at even the most elementary level for the mass of the population in the rapidly growing cities, but even more difficult to provide in rural areas where even the simplest health facilities are few and far between. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than half of the world's population does not have access to adequate health care services and facilities.

WHO has urged governments to correct the present bias, which favours the better-off in urban areas, and to put more emphasis on preventive medicine. Immunization, nutrition programmes, safe water supply and better drainage, and sanitation would greatly reduce health risks.

Just how difficult it is to bring "health for all" to the vulnerable groups was brought home to me when I recently visited some of the poorest mountain areas of Peru. I saw hospitals and health centres distributing supplementary rations of wheat, flour' maize, soya-milk blend, vegetable oil and tinned fish provided by the World Food Programme (WFP) for vulnerable groups. About 120 000 pregnant and nursing mothers and children under six are eligible under the project, which is receiving $13 million worth of food from WFP over a three-year period. Caritas International and other voluntary agencies are also providing food assistance.

Below accepted levels

The absolute poverty of women in the high mountain valleys and the altiplano of the Peruvian Andes is strikingly evident, and one hardly needs statistics to show how badly extra nourishment is needed. The Sierra covers 26 percent of the country, but almost half of the total population (estimated at 17 million) lives there in the densely populated valleys, mainly farming small uneconomic plots, difficult to cultivate and often consisting of small strips terraced from the steep mountainside. Peru has one of the lowest percentages of tillable land in the world: out of a total land area of nearly 3 million km2, only 35 000 are under intensive agriculture. Few crops can be grown at these altitudes (4 000 metres above sea level, on the average), and the local diet, consisting of potatoes and cereals with a little meat or milk from the herds of llamas or sheep, is about 40 percent below accepted levels. Indeed, it is estimated that 70 percent of the children under six years of ace in the Sierra suffer from malnutrition. The majority of the population live in overcrowded conditions: about 90 percent of the houses consist of one room with an average of four occupants. The average GNP per head is below $100 a year as against the national average of $620.

From the train that crosses the high, cold, windswept altiplano going toward Puno on the shores of Lake Titicaca, one sees an awe-inspiring landscape of yellow grassland skirted by the vast mountain peaks, many of them permanently snow-covered. Here we are above the limits of crop cultivation and there are people everywhere. They live almost entirely on the herds of llamas and sheep, using their wool for clothes, their meat and milk for food, their dung for fuel and the animals themselves for transport. The herding of livestock is mainly done by the women, who also spin, weave and knit the wool. About 13 million hectares of land can only be used for this type of pastoral farming.

Recent years have seen an increase in the migration of men away from the Sierra, where the land yields too little, to become wage labourers in the mines and industries of the coastal areas. Where agriculture is possible the men will return to do the heavy work of ploughing with oxen and digging the earth with the chaquitaolla, the ancient wooden hand plough that has remained unchanged since Inca days. The migrants come back again for the harvest. But nearly all the other field tasks - sowing, planting and weeding - are regarded as women's work, as are the feeding of animals, collecting of wood and water and small-scale marketing. Women have the double burden of heavy work on the land and the domestic tasks of feeding and caring for the family.

The many who die

With a poor diet it is small wonder that repeated pregnancies, often beginning in the early teens, seriously undermine the mother's health. The population is growing at an annual rate of 3.1 percent, with 22 percent under six years of age. Forty-six percent of women are in their child-bearing years and, in the health centres I saw every other women seemed to have an infant slung on her back in a stripy shawl fastened across her chest, while other small children clung to her skirts.

Even women who look far too old to have children claimed, when asked, to be in their thirties, and many of them were expecting their sixth or seventh living child. They often spoke of the many who had died. Deaths of children under five years of age account for approximately half of all mortality. The death of a child is accepted by peasant women as "natural and inevitable."

The numbers who attend the health centres preclude any very detailed follow-up of the condition of any individual, though pregnant women and babies are weighed and inoculated and records kept of their treatment.

The poor rural areas do not attract doctors. In 1976, in all Peru, there was one doctor for every 1580 persons (compared with 600 in the United States), but the majority of them are in the urban areas and the coastal region. Near the shores of Lake Titicaca, I spoke to Juan Cusacani, a young health auxiliary, whose small health post serves a population of 10 000 people. He had had six months' training and some short refresher courses. "I am on 24-hour duty call," he said. "I give first aid and do small operations like stitching a bad wound."

Proud of their status

He is a good example of a keen and dedicated community health worker, who had trained his own volunteer helpers from a largely illiterate population. He introduced with some pride his assistant midwives - four old women and one old man - a group representative of the 20 volunteers who work under his supervision in the widely scattered community. Poor, simple and seemingly old, they are obviously proud of their status. They showed me the book of tickets on which they record deliveries performed. The top scorer was an old lady who had delivered a hundred babies during the year (I did not have the heart to ask how many survived). Midwives are trained, they said, to refer complicated cases to the nearest health post with a trained doctor, some 10 km distant over the rutted cart track we had jolted down ourselves, and I pitied the poor woman in labour whose "complicated case" had to follow that route.

I asked the midwives if they were able to give their patients any advice on family planning. They shook their heads, perhaps a little disappointed that I had found something lacking in their service. Obviously, the "complicated case," if she survived, would continue to conceive at her peril.

The impact of supplementary feeding programmes on nutrition standards is hard to measure. How much does the food do for the health of the mother and child when it is given in the form of rations, which may be shared among the whole family? We do not know if a mother keeps such food for herself and her latest child if several others are hungry. However, nutritionists and health workers at the distribution level consider food aid to be a most valuable. Some regret the fact that the food aid is restricted to pregnant and nursing mothers or to severely malnourished preschool children. "It seems unfair," one said "and it is hard for us to justify, when the need is so great, that a mother can no longer receive food when her baby is six months old or her malnourished child passes its sixth birthday."

The risk of misuse

In some cases, the mothers who are not eligible earn WFP food rations for their families through "food-for-work" projects: building and painting their own club premises, improving the health centres or creating a garden or children's playground.

As far as supplementary feeding projects for mother and child are concerned, there has been a growing awareness in recent years within the World Food Programme that these need to be looked at more critically. Since they require considerable resources over a long period from governments and do not give an immediate return, they do not usually have a very high priority in national development plans. To make a real impact, the international community would have to commit larger quantities of food aid, guaranteed over a longer period, and combine it with other programmes providing for basic health services, safe water, better sanitation, nutrition, family planning, education and improvement of the condition of women.

Deep concern has also been expressed about the effect of the use of dried skim milk for babies and infants, and the twin dangers of discouraging breast-feeding while encouraging mixing of milk with contaminated water. Provisions are made to avoid these dangers, but the risk of misuse through ignorance and unhygienic conditions still exists.

It has also been pointed out that poor mothers who receive free food only when they are pregnant or nursing a baby for the first six months of its life find themselves in dire straits when they are no longer entitled to it.

They may well feel that free food is a "reward" for becoming pregnant again, an idea that certainly conflicts with the message other UN bodies are trying to convey.

Hence, the current interest in trying to give mothers some other kind of help to prepare them to provide the necessary nutritious food for themselves and their children when their entitlement to WFP food ends.

Food aid has considerable power to attract mothers to attend the health centres. They need an incentive to overcome such obstacles as the distances they have to walk with small children, the long hours they have to wait to see the nurse and collect their rations - time that is difficult to spare from their many household and farming tasks. When they are together, there is an opportunity for instruction in better nutrition practices, maternal and child care, family planning and hygiene. But unless adequate premises and qualified staff are also available, the opportunity is lost.

Practical benefits

At several of the health centres I visited, mothers' clubs had been formed. Some of these women had organized a savings club, had built their own club premises, had their own plot of land under cultivation and teachers who came to give literacy classes. Much of the initiative had come from the nutrition and health workers, but once the idea was established, the women were ready to devote time and energy, especially to activities that resulted in practical benefits and increased income. Women brought together in such groups, provided it is clear to them what the advantages will be, can form the basis for more ambitious community action. Income-producing activities are initially more attractive because women whose whole energies are devoted to making ends meet are far more likely to spend time at a class that holds some promise of economic benefit than to listen to exhortations about hygiene, although this can be added once the group is formed.

In a study for the Copenhagen Women's Conference Ruth Dixon has made a number of suggestions as to how such rural women's groups could be developed with training, loans and technical assistance to organize small enterprises such as fish cultivation, poultry and rabbit raising, beekeeping, mixed vegetable farming, fruit drying and so on. Where arable land is scarce, other cooperative enterprises, such as crop processing and handicrafts in which women are already engaged, could be upgraded to make their products more marketable and profitable. The emphasis is on work that produces income.

An insult

If rural women are expected to improve the health and nutrition standards of their families as well as increase food production, there will have to be a far greater concentration on them by government planners as a target group for aid: for education, to provide income-generating possibilities, to give them access to membership of credit and cooperative associations, to introduce them to technology to release them from their endless drudgery and enable them to spare some of their energies for making life a little more bearable.

It is a fact that rural women are certainly not afraid of hard work. When one sees what they undertake, it seems an insult to speak of "involving women in the development process." What they can contribute depends on improving their status and their access to resources and opportunities. The building up of women's groups for self-help, training and income-producing activities could be a valuable first step which, despite the low esteem in which international and government planners usually hold women's organizations, could release a considerable resource of hitherto untapped energy for development.

The Joluo equation

by Achola Pala Okeyo

The ancestral lands of the Joluo of Kenya sprawl along the northeastern shores of the Nyanga Gulf of Lake Victoria at altitudes ranging from 1000 to 2 000 metres. For the Joluo, who share with other Luo people in northern Tanzania, Uganda and southern Sudan common origins in this last region, as well as a common linguistic and cultural heritage, and similar patterns of economic and political ideology, land is the basis of rural existence. Traditionally, their primary orientation to land has been in terms of subsistence, the right to use land belonging to the patrilineage for cultivation, grazing and ceremonial activity.

This traditional system, which persisted through the colonial period and up until the initiation of the recent land reform programme, did not provide women, either as individuals or in groups, with the legal right to allocate or dispose of land. They were, however, protected by the emphasis on users' rights; individual men were not vested with the right to alienate land. Women, by virtue of their position as lineage wives and daughters, were entitled to use land for agricultural purposes from which they were expected to feed themselves, their children, their spouses and the extended family.

Until recently, the issues of having the right to allocate or dispose of land did not present a threat to women's role in food production.

The land reform programme now nearing completion in the region transfers the final right to dispose of land from a communal or lineage basis to an individual basis. Thus, it seemed appropriate, in the field research that we undertook in the mid-1970s, to examine how land reform is affecting the agricultural work done by women and their relationship to land.

All of the 135 women whom we interviewed in depth were cultivators who depended on the land for their livelihood. Our field research included open-ended as well as standardized questions concerning the current position of women in regard to land and land use. Specifically, we were interested in the following issues: women's access rights to land; how they acquired the land they are currently using; how they use the land; who holds the right of allocation on the land they are farming; how their status with regard to ownership and use of land compares with that of males; whether some or all of the land they are using has been bought or sold recently; whether their land is being registered and, if so, in whose name; how decisions are made regarding the sale, use or exchange of land.

Traditional concepts

To interpret the data we collected, it was necessary to keep in mind certain traditional concepts that the Joluo hold about landownership and use. In the Dholuo language, the term of land-levels. In the first instance, it identifies owner, wuon lowo, operates at two the person, usually a male, who has the right to allocate land. Such a person falls within a general category known as kwaro (grandfather) and exercises his allocative rights within a collective group of people deriving from "a grandfather or any male agnate above the first ascending generation."' The term, wuon lowo, however, also describes a person, male or female, whose rights to use land are guaranteed over a long period of time, by virtue of a specific relationship, usually validated by proven kinship, with the first category of wuon lowo. The period for which such rights to land are conferred quite often lasts a lifetime, or as long as the individual maintains the recognized relationship, for it is this relationship that carries a proprietary right. Typical examples of this second category are a wife or daughter, or an unmarried son before he is allocated his own land.

A second important term is wuon puodho, a concept that identifies a person who invests labour in a piece of land that has been allocated to her (or him), thereby transforming it into a productive unit. In this capacity, both in the past and at present, women exercise the right to exchange garden plots for agricultural purposes for short periods of time. Even today, a woman is not obligated to consult her husband, or whoever allocated the land to her, in exchanging plots, because such an exchange is only valid for the use of the land as opposed to retaining it for good. Women thus exercised considerable leverage in matters relating to the use of land, particularly as long as it remained plentiful and security of tenure was vested in the patrilineage.

The details of how land is allocated to wives and to sons are complicated by personal relationships. Prior to her marriage a woman does not have an allocation of land or livestock from her father's patrilineage; she merely has rights to use the land. However, by virtue of her labour input into farming, she has a share in the control of crops accruing from her efforts, or an equivalent amount from the collective efforts of the house. The mechanism by which land is allocated to a woman upon her marriage depends upon whether her husband's land-allocating kwaro is alive or dead, whether she is the first, second or third wife, and, in some instances, whether her husband is the first, second, third or last son. A first wife, for example, may have allocations simultaneously from the kwaro (her father-in-law) and from her husband, who because of his marriage to her may also be receiving a final allocation from his father.

A second or third wife, on the other hand, would tend to receive an allocation only from her husband, who might do this by subdividing land originally allocated to his first wife. The first wife of a last-born son would be likely to receive an allocation from the land being farmed by her mother-in-law.

One other difficulty encountered in our research was that while the women interviewed had a very precise count of the number of land parcels (puodho) they had the right to cultivate, few of them could give us an accurate measurement of their land sizes in hectares. Since there is a certain amount of variation in actual parcel sizes, our estimates, which were based on an approximate average size of 0.5 ha, should be taken as a broad indicator only.

On this basis, it was calculated that nearly 92 percent of the respondents had access to land in the range between 1.5 and 4.5 ha. Only two women (1.48 percent of the sample) had access to land in the range between 5.7 and 7.5 ha. Five of the women described themselves as landless, yet it was found on further investigation that they actually had access to land ranging between 0.5 and 1 ha. There are, however, two possible interpretations of this notion of landlessness. First, women may perceive that their access rights to land, which depended traditionally upon the fact that individual males were not able to alienate land, are now being jeopardized because of registration of land in the names of males. Moreover, desperate needs for cash, such as for fees at the beginning of the school year, may force some of the less wealthy peasants to sell off their small holdings at low prices to wealthier peasants. Secondly, this sense of landlessness may also reflect women's recognition that they cannot expand their land area. In terms of future options for her children, a woman who has 0.5 ha of land at the moment is justified in saying she has no land, because available land will be too small to subdivide among the children who have the right to inherit. In Dholuo, onge, is often used to refer to scarcity, particularly of important resources such as water, grazing or land; therefore, its usage in this context is entirely appropriate and reflects respondents' awareness of shrinking land base.

More than 95 percent of our sample indicated that they had acquired use rights to the land they were cultivating through a relative by marriage, usually naming the husband, the father-in-law or the mother-in-law as the source. However, only about two thirds said that they were the wuon lowo, the recognized users of all their land by virtue of their position as lineage wives. The remainder held this status only in regard to a portion of their land, ranging from one fourth to three fourths. The interpretation of this data is that, while the majority of respondents till only lineage land, there evidently remains some possibility of exchange of land within the lineage group so that some women actually have access to more land than has been allocated to them directly.

In their son's name

At the time of our field investigations, most of the region was undergoing the second phase of a legal process designed to change the land tenure system from corporate rights based on lineage to individual rights. All but four of the women interviewed told us that their land had already been registered under this new system. Of these 135 women, only eight, or less than 6 percent, reported that the land was registered in their name alone. An equal number mentioned that the land had been registered in their son's name and their own. In more than 50 percent of the cases, the land had been registered in the husband's name alone, and in another 25 percent, it had been registered in the name of the son. Joint registrations between husbands and sons accounted for the remainder.

The striking point of these results is the manner in which the land is being transferred to an almost exclusively male individualized tenure system, leaving no provision concerning how women's access rights are to be defined when the reform is completed and the new tenure system becomes operational. In practice, these women would probably still enjoy their cultivation rights to land as lineage wives, but in theory, at least, this status has been superseded by the new stipulation, which gives individual men the right to alienate land from which their female relatives expect to draw their livelihood for several years to come.

Two trends

Although it is still too early to predict accurately the outcome of this process, there are, in my view, at least two trends that could develop. In the first instance, young unmarried men who have reached their majority but who have no opportunity for paid employment will tend to sell the land registered in their name, leaving their parents to eke out a living on very small strips. We observed some instances of this trend in our field study and were often told by woeful mothers how they were unable to restrain their children from 'losing' all the land for money that lasted only a short time. While some registered owners may be expected to honour the use rights of their female relatives, such a trend is likely to be jeopardized by the fact that land is not readily available and that employment opportunities for these families are very limited.

The second concern is that if we look ahead five or ten years, there appear to be two categories of women who may find themselves in quite precarious situations because of the manner in which land-ownership and use rights are currently being defined in the land reform process. The first are those women who come from families with little or no off-farm incomes, so that their cash needs are generally met by the sale of livestock, land or agricultural produce. The second are those women who have only daughters or are widowed, for they are often defined by land adjudication officers as those who do not need much land.

In several instances I asked land adjudication officers why an overwhelming number of women were not being registered with land in the new scheme, In every case their answer was, "Because it is customary: men own land and women do not own land."

One author has suggested that there is some conceptual confusion between ownership, right of allocation and access rights. In the precolonial system of landholding, women were guaranteed use rights to lineage lands because their tenure was supported by the structural principle that defined a wife, among other things, as a person who was entitled to land for production as long as she maintained that relationship with the patrilineage. The right of a man to allocate land is not equivalent to the right to alienate land as is being introduced by the new scheme.

Compounding the current confusion is the technical language of the law and the manner in which it is applied at the local level. Many respondents in our sample knew that land was being registered only "because the Government says so." They were unaware of the mechanics of the land tenure reform programme and were therefore not in a position to intervene in processes clearly inimical to their well-being. Furthermore, local groups formed to assist in the adjudication of land were entirely male. These men argued that by custom women did not take part in land disputes and, therefore, it was reasonable that they should not be represented in such a group.

The power of veto

The traditional locus of female autonomy has been the wife's house, ot, whose legitimacy derived largely from the socioeconomic and legal status of the wife. One of its main functions has been to determine which sons inherit what land and livestock. The new land tenure reform programme is directed at identifying individual males in a patrilineage who are likely to inherit the property of that patrilineage. It thus speeds up the development cycle of the wife's house, rendering it unnecessary from a proprietary point of view. In this way, it isolates women from their sons, for whom, in the past, they would have been guardians of property until their marriage. It seems that one of the outcomes of the land tenure reform programme is the diminution of status of the house and its de facto head, the woman.

The concept of decision-making, as expressed in the Dholuo language, is susceptible to some ambiguity. When a question relates to whose decision carries weight or who must give permission before an event, such as a sale of land, it is usually stated in terms of the power of veto. Our questions in regard to decision-making were thus formulated as the equivalent, in Dholuo, of: "Who has powers in the matter of . . .?" To avoid ambiguity between who has the power in theory and who actually makes the decision, the question was put twice to each respondent, and followed with further probing. While the first answer invariably fitted the normative expectation second and the further responses to probing clarified matters a great deal.

More than 60 percent of the respondents said that their husbands were responsible for decisions where land is to be given over to someone permanently, sold, bought or given for public use. About 17 percent said that their husbands consulted them before making final decisions in these transactions. Widows or women almost entirely in charge of farming operations, because their husbands are working away from the area, composed the relatively small proportion of respondents who reported that they made these decisions independently: 10.37 percent in the giving of land, 7.41 percent in the buying and selling of land, and 2.96 percent in consigning land for public use.

A woman's decision

When decisions concern land use or deployment of agricultural resources, women play a significantly larger role. Decisions on the schedule of priorities for weeding plots, for instance were made independently by about half the respondents, while 27 percent said such decisions were made jointly with the husband and 23 percent said their husbands made the decision. Decisions to hand dig or plough a plot were more evenly distributed between the sexes. Respondents agreed unanimously, however, that when produce is to be sold or given to relatives of the wife or husband, it is invariably a woman's decision. When cattle, sheep or goats are bought, exchanged in bride-wealth transactions or given for lineage ceremonies, the decisions appear to be male-typed. On the contrary, decisions regarding the purchase or sale of chickens seem to be made by the individual owner. Within the household, chickens seem to play the role of gift objects which a husband, wife or grown children can own privately. Any member of the household may sell his own chickens or give them as a gift, as he sees fit.

In matters of children's welfare, particularly in the decision to educate a boy or girl, respondents were unanimous that the father plays a leading role. Similarly, in discussions and decisions concerning marriage transactions, it seems that fathers have an important role to play, although there is some evidence that parents increasingly consult with each other before reaching the final decision.

What appears striking about these patterns of decision-making is the level of consistency and stability in the division between "male-typed" and "female-typed" decisions. Decisions concerning land allocation, as well as transactions involving cattle, were traditionally the preserve of men, while their wives were largely in charge of cultivation and within most major crop cycles were almost entirely responsible for weeding.

A certain amount of cash flow

In regard to the division of labour, however, when we asked respondents what changes they had observed since they were married and had come to live in the area, there was broad agreement that women were doing many tasks formerly known to be men's work. The opposite trend was not as obvious. Tasks now done by women include clearing bush, ploughing, and even constructing granaries. In some instances, women took responsibility for supervising hired labour, often male, to do these tasks. There seems to be a growing differentiation among households in rural Luoland between those who have the cash to hire labour and those who need cash and must sell their labour. In other words, there is emerging a group of women who have access to their husband's cash and thus have the option of contracting work out to others. This trend may be related to another: male out-migration in search of paid employment, which results in a certain amount of cash flow to the men's families but also puts a strain on female labour.

It is significant that, as the Luo economy has become monetarized, the roles of men and women are shaped not so much by what men and women do, as by the patterns of remuneration for male and female farm tasks. Ploughing, which is a man's job, is better remunerated than weeding, which is the responsibility of women.

This differential, plus the cleavage between women in households who hire labour as opposed to those who sell their labour to meet cash needs, and the discernible trend to weakening of women's use rights in land loom as the major difficulties inherent in the land reform programme.

The economics of the bamboo tubewell

Dispelling some myths about appropriate technology

By Edward Clay

The bamboo tubewell is one of the most interesting recent technological developments in Indian agriculture, providing a classical example of 'indigenous' or 'adapted' technology that proponents of appropriate technology have been seeking. Inevitably, it has attracted the myth-makers and those looking for an upbeat story about rural India, who have described the "invention" of the bamboo tubewell in terms reminiscent of the deeds of the great inventors.

One purpose of this article is to dispel such unhelpful myths by showing that the development of the bamboo tubewell was the culmination of widespread innovative activity to realize the economic opportunities offered by a technology introduced in a form inappropriate to local conditions. It also questions the soundness of analyses that see small farmers as the prime beneficiaries of low-cost or "fractional" technologies. The real significance of the bamboo tubewell phenomenon, when considered in the context of widespread adaptation of irrigation technology in the Indian subcontinent, is that it demonstrates the need to commit resources to research and development on agricultural engineering technologies comparable to those expended on crop technologies.

In the Kosi area of Bihar, India, tubewell irrigation was first promoted by government programmes intended to increase agricultural production. In the late 1950s, there was limited initial local response mainly among a few large landowners. However, when the droughts of the mid-1960s coincided with the appearance of the new hybrid wheat seeds and the Intensive Agriculture Areas Programme, there was a new campaign to sink wells with direct government credit and a 50-percent subsidy on investment costs. The combination of high food-grain prices, new varieties with greater yield potential and low-cost credit coincided with a substantial increase in tubewell investment. The windfall profits that a few farmers made during 1965-67 were frequently cited as the conclusive demonstration of the potential of tubewell irrigation.

Techniques chosen for public credit-supported programmes for tubewell investment failed to consider local physical or socioeconomic conditions. The official package consisted of 10- or 15-cm diameter wells, iron casing with a brass screen, sunk to a depth of about 45 m or more. A small number of peripatetic rigs controlled by the Minor Irrigation Directorate sank all the wells. These rigs employed a slow and expensive percussive drilling technique. Transport costs and delays multiplied as each rig had to move long distances by bullock cart to sink perhaps only one or two wells as individuals decided to invest. Wells were to be powered, where possible, with electric pumps connected to the slowly spreading rural electricity network. This involved another government agency, the Bihar State Electricity Board, which apart from problems of coordination, was faced with the linking up of a network of scattered pumpsets. Water was to be delivered through a system of concrete or brick channels.

The potential command of a 10-cm well on levelled land was expected to be 6 to 8 ha but the 5-hp pumpset could irrigate 12 ha of irrigated dwarf wheat. Fragmentation of larger holdings as well as the small size of holdings in comparison with the potential capacity of such a tubewell system prevented most farmers from profitably investing in tubewell irrigation or, for the reasons considered below, benefiting from the purchase of water. Mortgage requirements for the package costing initially Rs 8 000 also limited credit-financed investment to farmers with at least 3.2 ha.

My hypothesis is that the combination of the potential profitability of tubewell-irrigated farming, once high-yielding wheat had been introduced, and the embodiment of tubewell technology in a package that restricted the opportunities for profitable investment induced a process of local innovative activity. The "invention" of the bamboo tubewell was no chance occurrence or isolated act of inspiration but part of a process of induced technical and institutional innovation. This hypothesis can be substantiated in two ways: from interviews with farmers and contractors during the period in which they were actively engaged in experimentation to reduce tubewell investment costs, and by an investment appraisal of alternative choices of technique that confronted the potential investor with respect to the three major components of a tubewell system, the well, pumpset and delivery system.

Evidence from interviews and time series statistics on the sinking of different sizes and specifications of tubewell (Table 1) indicate that small-scale contractors and farmers began experiments to adapt tubewell technology to local conditions from 1965 onward. A few contractors and farmers with business contacts outside the region found that they could substantially reduce investment costs by importing their own materials, sinking shallower wells and using local contractors to install the wells. By privately installing wells, they also cut out the lengthy delays and other hidden costs of credit-financed investment.

The culmination

Through experience, contractors found that the very high water table throughout most of the region and the deep deposits of stone-free sandy alluvia made it possible to sink wells to only 30 to 36 m and still provide an assured water supply. In these conditions, expensive brass screens brought little advantage and did not necessarily lengthen the life of a well. Without fully realizing this, local cultivators began to install cheap iron screens be cause they preferred lower investment costs and a higher immediate return to a potentially more durable investment.

Local contractors also discovered that, using the simple "sludger" drilling method previously developed to sink narrow diameter wells to be powered by handpumps, they could sink 7.5- and 10-cm wells in the soft strata down to 45 m at lower cost than government rigs. Apart from the blind pipe and an auger, this technique uses only local materials.

Local cultivators found that it was possible to further reduce the cost per hectare of an irrigation system by sinking several wells, all of which could be powered by a single mobile diesel pumping set. In this way, again rejecting the official choice of technique (electric power), they could overcome both the indivisibilities in pumping set investment and adapt the technology to take account of fragmented holdings and uneven land. Due to the existence of a high water table throughout most of the region, in all but the driest summers, pumps could operate at field level and power units could be moved from well to well with comparative ease in contrast to regions of Uttar Pradesh and the Punjab where pumpsets are placed in excavated pits.

Farmers also rejected another official choice of technique in preferring to construct only kutcha earth channels rather than to install cement channels that represented an unprofitable investment where holdings were fragmented, terrain broken and few wells irrigated more than 2 or 3 ha.

The development of the bamboo tubewell was the culmination of these many attempts to reduce the cost of tubewell technology. A wealthy former Zamindar veteran of the independence movement and afterwards a Sarodaya leader carried out in collaboration with some other farmers more systematic experiments to reduce well costs. Modifications tried included coconut co* wrapped around steel and afterwards bamboo frames. Eventually one of these farmers, R.P. Choudhury, succeeded in sinking a well with bamboo casing instead of steel pipe, also using the coir and bamboo screen. As with so many successful technical developments, the tendency to credit one individual with the "invention" has obscured the process of economically motivated, and in this case philanthropic, experimentation that lay behind the innovation.

In assessing the impact of these innovations on employment and income distribution patterns in the Kosi region, one ought to take account of the consequence for landless labourers who, by 1971, comprised half of the population in this largely rural area, as well as for large and small farmers.

An oversimplified analysis

The techniques of assembly and sinking of bamboo tubewells as well as the complementary work on land levelling and channel construction largely involved unskilled labour and a minimum of capital equipment. My estimate is that in 1972-73, 300 000 man-days of additional employment were created by the fabrication and sinking of at least 14 000 bamboo wells, and 100 000 man-days through subsequent earthworks. In addition, the maintenance of a stock of 40 000 bamboo wells would generate 150 000 to 200 000 man-days of employment annually, according to whether one assumes an average life expectancy for wells of 4 or 3 years. However, this is considerably less than the additional employment generated by tubewell-irrigated farming which even in 1971-72 was estimated as at least 1.7 million man-days when there were less than 5 000 operational wells in the region. Approximately 30 percent of incremental net product from more intensive cultivation went to agricultural labour. The low cost of bamboo tubewells and the development of a market in pumpset services enabled many more farmers to introduce tubewell-irrigated farming profitably. It was the overall labour-using character of the package of innovations associated with tubewell-irrigated farming more than the labour-intensive nature of bamboo tubewell fabrication and sinking techniques that had the greatest impact on employment. However, any assumption that the primary beneficiaries of low-cost technologies will be small farmers appears to rest on an oversimplified analysis.

First, the development of a low-cost well brought at least as much benefit to the larger farmers with their fragmented holdings. Most of those involved in innovative activity were large landholders seeking to find ways of more profitably exploiting the potential of tubewell irrigation. Even their larger plots often included land at different elevations that could not be irrigated from a single well without prohibitively expensive investment in land-levelling and channel construction. Larger farmers first recognized the possibilities of spreading the service of a pumpset over several wells. Among a random sample of 54 tubewell investors surveyed in 1971, there was one farmer with 11 wells and several others had two, three and more bamboo wells. As Table 2 shows, the distribution of the first 1500 bamboo wells included few small farmers. It was the provision of subsidized credit for bamboo tubewells in 1972-73 and the development of the pumpset service market that enabled small farmers to sink tubewells in large numbers. As the lower cost wells could be profitably installed on smaller plots, this also left more spare capacity and the sale of water, mostly to small farmers, also became more widespread. However, dependence on the purchase of water or hire of pumpset services is another reason why the small farmers will be less able than the larger farmers who own their own equipment to exploit fully the potential of tubewell irrigation. The sharing or marketing of pumpset services introduces into the operation of small well systems the problems of organization and distribution that plague larger tubewell, low lift and surface systems; the unit of control is no longer the unit of crop production decision-making. Since the usefulness of irrigation water depends critically on its timing, it is reasonable to assume that owners will always satisfy their own water requirements first. Potential water buyers have to make their own requirements consistent with those of the seller. Also, they must expect to bear more of the costs of any breakdown of equipment or shortage of fuel in terms of reduced yield due to untimely supply of water. The expected value of services will be higher for owner-users than for buyers. This analysis is supported by evidence for 1971 showing that those who hired pumpset services irrigated less frequently, and applied less supplementary water in growing high-yielding varieties of wheat.

Experience elsewhere on the operation of cooperatives for pump hire and government-managed deep tubewells suggests that these alternatives to private sale of services are unlikely to overcome the problem of unequal access to scarce services. When time-specific water requirements of crops such as high-yielding wheat make water a constraining input, then the same more powerful members of the community will be able to ensure that they have first call on available services. There remains the problem of unequal access to other complementary inputs: fertilizer, better seed, pesticides, mechanical draught power for peak period operations. These are all part of the problem of the small farmer who faces multiple constraints in competing with the large and powerful farmers for economic resources. This is why the relaxation of a single investment constraint is not a sufficient condition for a social revolution.

The bamboo tubewell and associated innovations in the Kosi region are only one example of the adaptation of lift irrigation technology to highly specific local environmental conditions and farming systems. But most other examples reported from the Indian subcontinent conform to a similar pattern: lift irrigation was first introduced in some government programme, rarely preceded by research and development into what would provide the most cost-effective package. Innovation and adaptation were largely left to farmers and small local contractors more sensitive to the needs of their potential customers.

The optimal choice

These examples of adaptation should not be interpreted as offering solutions to general problems, for presumably the more successful the process of adaptation is to a specific set of conditions, the less likely it is that such technology will transfer to different environments. For example, most of the cost advantage of bamboo wells over other cheap structures is lost where it is not possible to lift water with a mobile pump at ground level. Bamboo wells are easiest to sink and operate most efficiently in the coarse sandy alluvia with high water tables that are characteristic of the Kosi region. Elsewhere, when the chances of finding water are less and there is no alternative to costly high-speed drilling to greater depth following careful presurvey of groundwater resources, then high investment cost and more durable structures may represent the optimal choice of technique. In Bangladesh where factor prices and availabilities probably favour even more labour-intensive irrigation techniques with the substitution of human labour for powered pumpsets, then hand-pumped all metal retractable tubewells removed before the floods are being used for irrigated boro rice cultivation.

An important lesson to be drawn from the case of the bamboo tubewell is that there is often an enormous potential for research and development to adapt technologies to highly specific sets of conditions. Farmers and the small-scale private sector will try to do this where there is opportunity for low-cost experimentation that does not require high-level engineering skills and complex engineering support facilities. Where these conditions are not satisfied, there are opportunities for research and development by the international and national research agencies in machine technologies with potentially very high rates of return.

A manual of concrete examples

by Dorothee Rojahn

Appropriate Technology by P.D. Dunn. The Macmillan Press Ltd. 1978, 220 p., £2.50

This is not a specialist's view, either of issues of development economics or of engineering science. It is rather addressed to the general reader and will be welcomed by all those who want to get acquainted in a very concrete way with the issue of appropriate technology.

A broad range of subjects is dealt with: food and agriculture, water and health, energy, medical services, building and other services, small industry, education and research. As regards all of these subjects, the book provides a general description of the development context; the reader is made familiar with the relevant aspects of the problems to be solved, and concrete examples of successfully developed and experienced appropriate technologies are explained. There are numerous examples, ranging from equipment for soil cultivation and pedal-powered processing devices for agricultural products to heat- and wind-powered engines, medical care methods, building materials, etc. Where the author does not give precise descriptions, one finds references to other publications instead. Supplementary appendixes supply the reader with addresses of institutions engaged in the development of appropriate technology - in the Western world as well as in the countries concerned - and with a list of projects compiled from requests for help received by the Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG).

Implicitly, the author addresses students of higher education in his own field of research as, in his eyes, it is they who may be expected to develop the techniques with the desired characteristics - either by reviving superseded technological knowledge, as it existed in the nineteenth century in Europe, or by transforming modern industrial processes, or by designing new conceptions. This would explain the rather general standard applied to characterizing the economic situation of developing countries. Reflections on the "state of the world," as one chapter is called, the relevance of the GNP as a measure for development, Western versus traditional technology, general statistics on world energy and fertilizer consumption, life expectancy, etc., do not enrich the discussion on the subject. Rather, they are part of conventional economic wisdom, which is dealt with in almost every daily newspaper.

Work in the field

On the other hand, the reader will most probably be looking for more specifications on the subject itself. One would have expected the author, who has been with ITDG in London since its establishment in 1965, to acquaint his reader with useful experience on, for instance, the social, technical, economic or business restrictions owing to which certain techniques failed to be successful.

The only advantage of the simplicity with which those economic topics are presented is that it conveys the challenge to do something about them. According to the motto of the book, "there is no substitute for actual work in the field," the author attempts to stimulate the reader, and he succeeds. It becomes obvious from his book that only by drawing upon local knowledge, organization, production and supplies can a basis be created on which a self-reinforcing process of technological innovation can be triggered off, which may be able to overcome the level of subsistence economy at minimum social costs. This would then come as a gradual process, compatible with local culture and practices and not by a "big push," which is bound to be socially disruptive.

On two legs

The author does not absolutely advocate development through appropriate technologies. He is quite conscious of the fact that a strategy of "walking on two legs" is the most promising one for the majority of the poor countries. Yet, in most of the cases - to take up the metaphor again - only "one leg" has been promoted, and this has rarely been done by using the countries' own capacities and capabilities, but has been brought in from outside, from above. However, not all that comes from on high is a blessing. Small steps can be beautiful; they do not necessarily mean flight or withdrawal into something idyllic or romantic. Rather, they are taken in self-restraint on the way to human progress.

From the geographical viewpoint

by Michael Howes

The Five Faces of Thailand: An Economic Geography by Wolf Donner, c Hurst & Co., London, UK, 1978, 930 p.

Prior to 1960, relatively little research had been carried out in Thailand, but largely as a result of the country's increasing geopolitical significance in the wake of the Viet Nam war, the last two decades have seen something of an information explosion. Much of what has been written remains relatively inaccessible, however, and The Five Faces of Thailand represents one of the first attempts to draw together materials on the physical environment and its interrelation with human economic activity for the benefit of the student and the development agent.

An extravagant claim

The major part of the book is devoted to a description of Thailand's five regions, each of which is explored through major chapters dealing with physical geography and the economy, and smaller sections on people and development trends and plans. Essentially the same procedure is followed in a general introduction dealing with Thailand as a whole, and the book concludes with a short chapter on future prospects in the light of current development trends.

At one point, the author states that his objective is to "help to develop geography into a tool for the preparation of a realistic development strategy," but this is a somewhat extravagant claim, which Donner never seriously seeks to substantiate. The more modest intention of offering "basic knowledge and understanding of the country... from the geographical viewpoint," reflects accurately what the book, in practice, sets out to achieve, and provides the primary criterion by which it should be assessed.

Judged from this point of view, the chapters dealing with physical geography are competently written, and the important sections on crops are comprehensive, informative and succinct. Elsewhere, the occasional short passage and isolated fact have a striking impact: it speaks volumes, for example, for the rate at which certain sectors of the Thai economy have been thrust into the twentieth century, to learn that the first motorable road in the country was built as recently as 1934, and that energy consumption increased by a staggering 600 percent over the 1959-69 decade. But one is entitled to expect more than this from a book that is 930 pages long. For the most part, The Five Faces of Thailand fails to satisfy adequately even the more modest goal that it sets itself. The general treatment of people, and the specific chapters devoted to this subject, are particularly weak, amounting to little more than loose collections of facts about ethnic groups, unhelpful comments about customs and Thai personality, and vehicles by which Donner expresses his concern about the effects of increasing population. The social organization of production - surely a matter of central concern to any work that intends to illuminate "the impact of the economically active people on the land" - is, on the other hand, almost totally ignored.

On a more general level, too, the book suffers a number of limitations. Firstly, despite the author's stated commitment to present a work that is up to date, I can find no reference in the bibliography more recent than 1974, and certain statistics quoted are almost ten years out of date. Secondly, although the reader is initially warned that data may be of a dubious reliability, it is frustrating to see little subsequent attempt to evaluate the quality of the facts presented, and particularly annoying to be confronted without comment with apparently conflicting statements. At one point, for example, we are told that Korat was reported to have a population of 12 000 in 1924, and 40 000 in 1928, a frightening growth rate by anyone's standards. This is symptomatic of a generally rather uncritical use of sources, and a corresponding tendency to report facts for facts' sake, uninformed by any useful context.

The book is also irritating in more minor ways. Illustrations and tables, rather than making the reader's job easier, are on occasions overcrowded with information and difficult to understand; and keys are often presented in a manner that renders interpretation unnecessarily complicated. The first two pages alone contain two typographical errors, which is perhaps excusable in a work of this length, but the subsequent omission of three pages from the printed text surely is not.

Finally, it is also important to evaluate the claim that a book of this kind can enrich our understanding of the development process as a whole. On this account, while it would be impossible to argue with Donner's general proposition that any society ignores the increasing pressure of population upon its natural resources at its peril, the book must be adjudged a failure. This is largely a function of the erroneous assumption from which it proceeds, namely, that common sense and a benevolent government must ultimately dictate that natural resources are exploited in a rational manner, irrespective of those who will lose out politically as a result. It is above all the failure to come to grips with political realities, and the unwillingness to think through systematically the implications of the fact that these simply cannot be isolated from questions of resource exploitation, that ultimately confound the extravagant claims upon which the book is based.