The Price to Pay: a look at debt and development - International
Development Research Centre (BP 8500, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, KIG 3H9), 1992,
48 pages (Quest for the Future) Also available in French
This booklet by the Canadian International Development Research
Centre, one of the many works on debt, provides a clear, succinct, balanced
picture of what is at stake. It is particularly interesting because of the input
from research workers in the developing countries themselves.
The authors see the 1980s as a lost decade as far as development
is concerned, first and foremost because of the debt crisis and the disastrous
scenarios it produced. Repeated borrowing, absurd interest rates, multiple
restructuring and a deterioration in the terms of trade to the point where there
was a net transfer of funds from South to North meant negative growth and, one
by one, the States found they were unable to pay up.
The countries of the North did nothing about this until their
own banks felt the pinch of bad debts. And, even then, their only aim was to
recoup their losses, which made the situation worse. It was not until the
developed nations ultimately accepted their share of the responsibility for the
financial depression in the South that the first encouraging signs appeared.
Most of the decade was wasted on sterile invective between North
and South. It was not until the repeated calls for more development aid, better
interest rates and new methods of borrowing were heard that countries in the
Third World were able to find their way back to growth again. All kinds of
cooperation are needed to solve the debt crisis and set up a new world order. In
short, there is one thing planners and researchers can do- collaborate.
Raising and Sustaining Productivity of Smallholder Farming
Systems in the Tropics - Handbook on Agricultural Development by Willem C.
Beets, AgBe, 738 pp., 432 illustrations, 143 tables, 1990- Hardbound, ISBN:
This book brings together, for the first time, most relevant
knowledge on the various tropical farming systems. The approach is
multi-disciplinary and emphasis is placed on the interactions between
agro-technical, environmental, economic, sociological, institutional, and
political aspects. Information on climate, soils, plant breeding, institutions,
etc., is given when these factors are crucial in the context of overall
The purpose of the book is to provide a framework for
agricultural development in the tropics with an emphasis on raising the overall
productivity of farming systems in a sustainable manner.
The book advocates consideration of the farmer's point of view,
and also development within existing systems, rather than recommending the
adoption of Western-style systems heavily dependent on fossil energy, good
communications, and institutions.
Self-reliance and self-sufficiency are recommended rather than
dependence on external inputs, and export-oriented economies. Another philosophy
is that farming systems should be environmentally balanced, even if only
marginally economical in the short-run. Considering the limited scope for
opening up new land and global environmental deterioration, medium and long-term
considerations should weigh heavier than quick profits and spectacular
production gains that cannot be sustained.
Special emphasis is placed on the limit imposed by natural and
financial resources, and administrative or social structures. Those aspects of
the agricultural production process that lend themselves to improvement are
identified and the prerequisites and mechanisms of change discussed. In
particular, the effects of land-tenure and land-use, fertilisers, irrigation,
cultural practices, rational crop selection, timeliness of planting, extension
programmes and infrastructure are emphasised.
This publication is expected to be useful to all those involved
in agricultural development in the Third World, to students, research workers
and professionals, and to government officials at every level of policy making