|CERES No. 135 (FAO Ceres, 1992, 50 p.)|
THE FAO REVIEW: the ecology of tools
Opponents of Quebec's James Bay hydroelectric project are fond of a cartoon, showing Noah leaning out of his ark, shouting to the animals filing on board, two-by-two (a sign in the background reads "James Bay"): "OK everybody, forget it! I'm calling the whole thing off! With God, we had a chance, but this time...!"
The cartoon's message probably sums up the issues more effectively than the cries of environmental activists campaigning against the project in the United States, who describe it as "the Amazon of the North" and refer to the film Dances with Wolves when talking about its potential impact on the native peoples of northwestern Quebec, the Cree Indians and the Inuit. Their emotive appeals for international support have alerted the world, not to mention a previously unconcerned Canadian public, to what is undoubtedly an environmental issue of almost biblical proportions.
The history of the James Bay hydroelectric project extends back to 1964, when the electric utility Hydro-Quebec began studying ways of developing the La Grande River. In 1971, Quebec Premier Robert Bourassa launched "the project of the century", a plan to develop the river systems draining into James Bay. The scope of the development was breathtaking, incorporating longterm plans to build 215 dams and dikes, 23 power stations and involving the diversion of 19 rivers, including the La Grande, the Eastmain, the Rupert, Broadback and St Lawrence and the Great Whale.
This massive development, if allowed to proceed, would eventually harness the energy of the rivers flowing through 350 000 square kilometers of northwestern Quebec, an area bigger than Germany.
The first stage, the La Grande, also known as James Bay One, was completed in 1985 (for Phase One) and La Grande Phase Two, which includes additional powerhouses, is due for completion in 1996. The total area flooded is 15 000 square kilometers and the combined cost of the La Grande project is about Can $23 billion to date (1 Can $= 0.85 US$). The Can $12.7 billion second stage, Great Whale, or James Bay Two, is now the subject of protest and debate. The total area to be flooded would be more than 3 000 square kilometres. The third stage is known as the NBR project, the initials representing three rivers, the Nottaway, Broadback and Rupert. A total of 5 500 kilometres of transmission lines would carry the power to markets in southern Quebec. The power would then be transmitted to customers in the United States. In 1989, its cost was estimated at Can $16. billion.
Cree Indian communities in the area affected by the development first heard of it through newspaper reports. They had not been consulted previously and their battle to stop the project going ahead was lost in 1973 when a Quebec appeals court ruled that the development had proceeded too far to stop and the needs of millions of the province's residents outweighed the concerns of "a few thousand natives".
In 1975, the Grand Council of the Cree agreed to let the project proceed and, together with the Northern Quebec Inuit Association, signed the landmark James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, in return for some recognition of their territorial rights to a total of 410 000 square miles of land and the instigation of an environmental review process. Cree communities received Can $225 million. The agreement covered Cree and Inuit self-government, administration of justice, health and social services, environment and future development, as well as hunting, fishing and trapping rights and income security for those participating in traditional activities.
A most extraordinary aspect of this issue is that, despite all the rhetoric, no one is able to answer two fundamental questions: what exactly will be the impact of the project on the environment and native peoples, and is the project really essential to the future energy requirements and the economy of the province?
A complex web of review processes has, as yet, not come up with a comprehensive picture of the potential environmental and social impact of the project and the answer to whether or not Quebec needs a hydroelectric development of this size lies in documents kept with jealous care. However, news that the project will put Quebec at least Can$60 billion in debt has raised considerable public concern and increased interest in the project.
David Cliche, president of the Great Whale Forum in Quebec, a coalition trying to encourage public debate and discussion of the issue, said that until one year ago there had been no public debate, involvement or review of the project. "In fact, there has been no opposition as such in Canada or Quebec".
"We have not had answers so far to simple questions, such as do we really need the electricity", Cliche told Ceres. "We are still struggling to get information out of the government and Hydro-Quebec which would provide the answers.
Critics have argued that the key role held by the James Bay project in Quebec's strategy for economic growth has meant that environmental concerns have not been allowed to impede its progress. While Hydro-Quebec has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on environmental impact studies and remedial measures and the Quebec government introduced most of its environmental laws after the James Bay project was started, critics maintain that the position of both the government and the utility that the project is essential and must proceed has influenced the quality of environmental reviews.
Cree Indians continue to maintain a traditional, semi-nomadic life-style in northern Quebec, based on hunting, fishing and trapping. They say the project will destroy their ability to live traditionally because it will have a catastrophic impact on their fishing and hunting grounds.
Phase One of the project, the La Grande, flooded 11 500 kilometres; of caribou calving grounds, fish-spawning areas, migratory bird habitats and destroyed food supplies for marine mammals. Environmental damage was especially severe along the edges of water bodies, the richest habitats for plants and wildlife. What were once wild rivers have been reduced to creeks.
Crees and environmentalists fear that the fragile and complex environment along the shores of James Bay and Hudson Bay will be destroyed by changes in water salinity, due to changes in the flow off rivers feeding into both bays.
Since Phase One was built without any environmental assessment, perhaps the most serious outcome was the release of mercury into waterways. The mercury normally lay dormant in rocks, however a bacteria associated with the decomposing vegetation in new reservoirs transforms it into methyl mercury, which then enters the food chain. Within months of the completion of Phase One, levels of mercury in fish caught in the La Grande downstream from dams, had climbed to six times their normal levels. A 1984 survey of Crees living in Chisasibi, at the river's mouth on James Bay, found that 64 per cent had unsafe levels of mercury in their bodies. Crees say it could take 50 years before mercury levels return to normal.
A committee appointed by Hydro-Quebec in 1987 and given a Can$18.5 million budget to research the problem has not yet found a solution, although it has suggested that Crees stop eating fish....a staple of their diet.
Environmentalists have also targeted Hydro-Quebec contracts to export power to New England and New York, arguing that the Quebec environment and the maintenance of native peoples' traditional lifestyles should come before the power needs of the United States and questioning just how much of the 28 000 megawatts of power that would be generated by a completed James Bay hydroelectric project is needed by Quebec itself.
A Canadian Federal Court decision in September 1991 put a stop to all work on the Great Whale project and ordered the federal government to launch a new environmental review. The decision was a major victory for the Cree and Inuit, who had instigated the court action seeking to force a comprehensive and binding federal review of the project under the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, a complex land claims settlement established in 1975. The study is expected to delay the project for at least three and up to five years.
The Quebec government has appealed the court decision and remains adamant that the project is essential to the needs of Quebec and will proceed. The province's Deputy Premier, Lise Bacon, threatened in October 1991 that if James Bay was scrapped, Quebec would have no choice but to build nuclear power-generating plants.
As pointed out by Gerald Aubry, of Canada's Federal Environmental Assessment Review Office, there has been no shortage of environmental review processes being applied to the Great Whale project. Following the Federal Court decision, there are now five reviews being conducted by seven committees, with members representing the federal and provincial governments, the Crees and the Inuit.
Both governments announced in October 1991 that efforts were being made to coordinate and "harmonize" at least some of the reviews. The federal and provincial environment ministers said in a joint press release that there was a "firm intention to undertake a credible process of environmental assessment that will enable all interested parties to be heard on all aspects of the hydroelectric project".
Some years ago, Hydro-Quebec released a glossy brochure entitled: "La Grande Riviere: A Development in Accord with its Environment". At the time few apart from the Cree and Inuit doubted the message, but it now seems clear that all parties have recognized that work on the next stage of the project should not, in fact cannot, proceed before a thorough environmental review determines whether or not it should go ahead at all.
There is snow outside its windows half the year and a cold wind sweeps the campus, but the laboratory filled with cassava shoots at the University of Guelph (near Toronto), Canada, isn't trying to develop winter-hardy varieties of a staple tropical crop. The presence of cassava this far north is only another indication of the worldwide scope of an expanding research effort to enhance cassava's nutritional and economic value.
Increasingly, this effort is drawing upon the latest techniques in plant genetic engineering - including a device known as a particle gun designed to achieve genetic transformation of target plant species by literally bombarding selected cell tissue with DNA-coated particles. Since transformation and regeneration of transgenic cassava plants in large numbers has so far proven difficult, the initial goal of the Guelph project isn't to change specific genes, but only to develop viable transformation technology.
The helium-powered particle gun has been used in biotechnology laboratories for five or six years in the United States, most notably in private sector development of the world's first transgenic maize plants. "Cassava isn't like corn or coffee", points out Prof. Larry Erickson, a plant geneticist who heads the Guelph project. "No companies are making any money on it". Recruited recently from private industry, Erickson is carrying out the two-year project on a US$100 000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. He recognizes that any transformed cultivars developed from his or related projects will have to be channelled largely through the international research institute network and the national research and extension services of developing countries, in order to be available to the smallholders who have traditionally been cassava's principal producers.
Widely held misconceptions
Until recent years, funds allocated for cassava research and development have been scanty, owing, as Dr James H. Cock, former coordinator of cassava programs at the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) has remarked, "to widely held misconceptions about the crop". This despite the fact that an estimated 420 million people scattered through more than two dozen tropical countries depend on cassava for 50 per cent or more of their total dietary energy. While direct human consumption accounts for approximately two-thirds of the annual global production of about 130 million tons, livestock feed and industrial uses also offer significant markets to producers.
There are admittedly problems. On the nutritional side, the low protein content of the cassava tuber - normally less than one per cent - has adversely affected its rating as a desirable food staple. So too has the presence in raw cassava of a pair of glycoside compounds which convert to toxic hydrocyanic, or prussic acid when root cells are ruptured. Although traditional cassava processing - boiling, pressing, sieving, toasting - helps to reduce prussic acid content and to eliminate dangers of acute poisoning, chronic cyanide toxicity has been a problem in some regions, especially in Africa, where impact has been linked to low levels of both protein and iodine in the diet.
Another disadvantage is that the freshly-harvested tubers deteriorate rapidly, thus requiring prompt processing or a very limited range of marketing for the fresh produce. Finally, although cassava has a reputation for disease and pest tolerance, it is known that yields are often significantly reduced by a variety of enemies, such as mealybugs and spidermites (Ceres No. 130), bacterial blight and mosaic viruses.
However, compensating for these handicaps, the traditional domestic cassava, Manihot esculenta, exhibits some attractive characteristics. Even with scant attention, it yields more food calories per hectare than other tropical crops such as maize, rice or sweet potato. It possesses a high level of tolerance for infertile soils and extended periods of drought. In fact, in many regions it is planted as a famine reserve crop to provide an assured food supply should other crops succumb to drought or locust plagues. In this regard, it is a particular advantage that cassava tubers can be harvested as needed at any time from nine months to two or three years after planting.
While Manihot esculenta is the only cassava widely used as a crop, nearly 100 wild species have been identified. Most appear to cross readily with the domesticated variety and are consequently considered potentially useful in breeding programs. One, M. glaziovii, has already been used as a source of resistance to African mosaic disease, which attacks M. esculenta. Another, M. tristis, when crossed with M. esculenta, has produced a hybrid with a root protein content of 12 per cent. Wild manihot can also provide genes for low cyanide content.
Given this genetic base, the challenge facing plant scientists has been to devise methods for introducing desired traits into the domesticated species or hybrids derived from it. Enter biotechnology.
"Almost every other crop has yielded to genetic engineering", says Dr Gary Toenniessen, Rockefeller's associate director of agricultural sciences. "With the particle gun, almost all cereals are transformable now". As support for cassava research has finally gained momentum, a loose international network of projects has been able to focus on specific problems and to test different genetic engineering technologies.
The International Cassava Trans Project (ICTP), a joint venture of the French Institute of Scientific Research for Cooperative Development (ORSTOM) and the Research Institute of Scripps Clinic, in the United States, is concentrating on two viruses: the cassava common mosaic virus, which is a major problem in Latin America, and the African cassava mosaic virus. Through a method known as the "coat protein mediated resistance strategy" or, more conveniently, CP, viral genes are introduced into the genetic structure of the intended host plant in such a way that they interfere with, and reduce, the spread of the viral infection. Over the past three years, the project has indicated that the chosen strategy offers good prospects for control of several strains of mosaic viruses, but further research is required to make the transformation process more efficient.
At Washington State University, another Rockefeller-supported project is using genes isolated from potatoes to provide cassava both with greater insect resistance and improved nutritional quality. Other, alternative genetic transformation techniques are being tried in separate projects in China, Denmark and the United Kingdom.
"The prime feature of genetic engineering is that you can do things that are otherwise impossible or very slow", says Guelph's Prof. Erickson. "With normal plant breeding you can't make the kinds of major changes that you can with tissue culture".
At the University of Guelph, which has a long tradition of involvement in international projects, including earlier research on cassava, Prof. Erickson sees other spinoff benefits from this kind of undertaking. The transformation system being developed is attracting the interest of postdoctoral students and scientists from other countries. His research assistant, Basdeo Bhagwat, had previously worked as a tissue culture specialist on bananas at the University of Trinidad and developed a number of techniques now being used on the cassava project. Says Prof. Erickson: "We are learning things that we hope we can apply to other crops, tropical and nontropical".
When is a quagga an Equus quagga quagga and when is it a mere Equus quagga in quagga's clothing? Quite a question, say geneticists, who can't agree yet among themselves whether a foal born recently in South Africa's Vrolijkheid Breeding Centre is only a slightly off-colored plains zebra or the true resurrection of a supposedly extinct species.
The answer could have important implications for those interested in preserving both rare domestic animal breeds and endangered wild species.
The original quagga was a partially striped, cream-and-brown, horse-like animal that roamed the plateaus of southern Africa until roughly a century ago, when it was hunted to extinction. Ceasing to exist did little, however, to dampen controversy among zoologists over its proper classification. Some believed it a species in its own right - E. quagga quagga others thought it a cousin of the mountain zebra (E. zehra), and still others were convinced it was a sub-species, perhaps even a mere color-phase, of the plains zebra (E. quagga).
Zebras and horses, as well as quaggas, share certain similarities, due to the persistence of primitive characteristics inherited from a common ancestor that lived 3.3 million years ago. But each creature also has its own unique traits. Thus, quaggas sported their own colors and didn't live among zebras, keeping instead to their own territory south of the River Orange. The last living quagga, a mare, died on 12 August 1883 in Amsterdam's Zoo Artis. Today, only stuffed specimens, such as that kept in the Amsterdam Zoo Museum, are extant. Geneticists at the Vrolijkheid Breeding Centre, however, are unwilling to accept history's verdict of final doom. For several years they've carried out experiments aimed at "retrieving" the quagga via selective breeding of plains zebras for quagga-like traits. In 1988 eight foals were born more or less resembling E. quagga. The experiments continued until this year, when scientists announced that their latest foal was, externally at least, a genuine quagga look-alike.
Quest for a quagga
If the animal is a real quagga, it would confirm the results of work by American geneticist Russel Higuchi, of the University of California at Berkeley. Prof. Higuchi earlier cloned fragments of mitochondrial DNA from preserved samples of quagga tissue and found similarities with the DNA of the plains zebra. Other work based on the interpretation of skull and tooth characteristics has also established that the quagga and plains zebra were "sister" species. Differences between the quagga DNA sequences and mountain zebra DNA, however, indicate a diversity between those species.
Has the quagga been brought back from oblivion?
Some geneticists think not, and make no bones about it. Peter J.H. van Bree, curator of the Department of Mammals at the Zoological Museum of Amsterdam, is adamant: "It's as if we managed to reproduce a double of Napoleon, but we could never bring the emperor back.
"It's always possible to breed back the external aspect of a certain form which occurred within a species. For instance, between the two world wars the Heck brothers (one a former director of the Munich Zoo), by selective breeding of domesticated cows, managed to get animals which looked like aurochs, the extinct ancestor of modern cattle. We now know that these animals were not aurochs, but only look like aurochs.
"They are doing the same now in South Africa with plains zebras. They are creating animals which look like quaggas, but which never will be true quaggas. These experiments are interesting for the public, but scientifically speaking of little value. The sub-species E. quagga quagga has died out and cannot be replaced by plains zebras".
Obviously, the last word on the quagga has yet to be heard.
A new guar gum substitute derived from ipil-ipil (Leucaena leucocephala) seeds could cut paper-manufacturing costs by as much as 30 per cent in some developing countries, according to researchers in the Philippines.
The guar substitute, formulated by researchers at the Forest Products Research and Development Institute in Los Banos, has aroused the interest of paper manufacturers, who normally import the gums used in production. Use of Leucaena leucocephala, a well-known agroforestly tree species grown widely in the tropics, would provide a locally-grown, economical replacement for the expensive chemical imports. According to an institute spokesman, Philippine imports of gumbased additives for the paper industry, food products and cosmetics averaged 5 500 tons per year between 1985 and 1987, representing US$2.8 million.
Gum additives are mixed with paper pulp at various stages of the paper-making process, and are used as sizing agents, fillers, strengthening agents, pigments, defoamers, slimicides, surfactants, dispersants and pitch control agents.
Three varieties analysed
Workers at the institute have analysed the chemical composition of three varieties of ipil-ipil seed, including the K-28 variety of the El Salvador group and the K-6 and K-8 varieties from Peru and Mexico, respectively. The K-28 is one of the so-called "Hawaii giants", said to have been introduced in the Philippines some 12 years ago to provide shade for coffee plants.
The finely-ground seeds of the three varieties produced two forms of gum additive - extract and powder - for paper. Experiments showed that additive levels of 0.2 to 0.4 per cent of powder imparted considerable strength to unbleached kraft pulp, kraft cuttings and sugar cane bagasse hand-sheets (cellulose-rich sugar cane residues after crushing).
Based on the absolute dry weight of the pulp, the addition of 0.5 per cent aqueous crude gum extract obtained from giant K-28 seeds greatly increased the dry-tensile strength of the pure bagasse and lauan pulp hand-sheets. Ipil-ipil gum costs roughly US$1.00 per unit, compared to approximately US$1.50 for imported guar gum. It also saves on fibres and fillers and results in clearer waste water.
Researchers believe a paper mill that produces 100 tons per day of dry strengthened paper using 400 kilograms of ipil-ipil gum could save approximately 600 000 pesos (US$30 000) when operating on a 300-day working year.
L. Ieucocephala is known to agroforesters as an MPT (multi-purpose tree) species (Ceres No. 133). Its wood is used for construction, fuelwood and charcoal, its leaves as an animal fodder and its cooked fruit as a food for humans. Being a leguminous, or nitrogen-fixing species, the ipil-ipil also has a beneficial effect on soils.
For the first time in history the mayors of the Sumava region in southern Czechoslovakia have made a public appeal to protect the Bohemian forest, the largest unspoiled tract of woodland in Central Europe.
In a formal petition issued to the Czechoslovakian Prime Minister, 21 mayors representing the citizens of the entire Sumava biosphere reserve announced their support for a locally-produced management plan for their newly-created Sumava national park.
"We were delighted to take part in the discussion on the future of our region, a pleasure which has not been granted to us before", stated the mayors in their petition to the federal government. Formerly, emphasized the mayors, "we have always been bypassed and forgotten.... Access at last (to our forests) has been restored. Our question is, how can this be utilized to the economic advantage of our people? How can we economically advance without destroying our national endowment?"
The management plan, developed with support from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), is ground-breaking scheme that gives varying degrees of protection to the 70 000-hectare Sumava national park, an integral part of the 162 000-hectare biosphere reserve. The park, which straddles the eastern side of the former "iron curtain" between Czechoslovakia and Germany's Bavarian forest national park, was for decades a military-patrolled border zone. It was also a favored hunting ground of the elite.
When the "iron curtain" went up tens of thousands of people were removed from the zone, and the population in the region was reduced from around 150000 to 60000 people today. Four inhabited villages will remain in the park, and several abandoned enclaves of cultural value will become park centres.
Already the citizens of the Sumava have torn down miles of barbed wire fences and have left the region to the lynx, wild boar, roe and red deer that have made the forest their homes for centuries. Tourists are exploring the inner reaches of the park. Otters and freshwater pearl mussels are still found in the rivers, while the forest harbors around 10 pairs of eagle owls, black storks and black grouse as well as the capercaillie.
In former no-entry zones, these first tourists are discovering the park's primeval forest where trees thirty metres tall are over 400 years old. They also encounter glacial relics including the crowberry, dwarf arctic birch and dwarf pine, species which have survived since the Ice Age 10 000 years ago.
Unwelcome discoveries also occur: some of the trees have been affected by air pollution, although favorable winds have spared the Bohemian forest from serious damage in this country where leaf and needle damage was recently measured at 35.5 per cent, among the highest in all of Europe.
Large tracts of uncleared forests where war-games were played with Russian-made tanks and other weapons also mar the landscape. And the sound of petrol-powered chainsaws still breaks the stillness in the core zone, where the military is reluctantly giving up its right to log. Local villagers whose economy has been depressed for years and whose situation has worsened are still being hired to cut trees in the protected zone. Park authorities patrolling the territory and informing the Ministry of Defence that the cutting must stop.
"Until 1989, it was forbidden for anyone but the military to enter a 10-km zone from inside the forest up to the border itself", explained Jiri Kec, director of the Sumava national park. "Now 600 people will live inside the protected area in what we define in our management plan as a traditional use zone. The core area should be around 20 000 ha and the traditional use zone around 45 000 ha, representing nearly 70 per cent of the park".
Sumava national park's protected zones include the core area (full protection), the recuperation zone (removal of roads and electric power lines from the main areas of former military presence), the traditional use zone (agricultural use that does not diminish biological diversity) and public use zone (environmental education and eco-tourism).
WWF project leaders, Frantisek Krejci and Vaclav Franek point out their concept for this park is a departure from strictly traditional definitions. "This concept employs a new philosophy", Franek said. "We need people to continue living here in the Bohemian forest. We want to create conditions for people to live near the park in harmony with nature".
Compromise was the key to the success of the park. The Ministries of Defence, Agriculture and the Environment recently hammered out an agreement over the size of the core zone. As could be expected, the Ministry of Environment wanted the zone - where hunting, forestry and agriculture would be prohibited - to be as large as possible.
"Not one minister in Czechoslovakia would say no to environmental protection", said Pavel Trpak, Deputy Minister of the Environment of the Czech Republic and former WWF project leader for Sumava national park. "It is only a matter of what degree of protection each ministry believes is needed. Agricultural development is the biggest threat to the park, but two years is a short time for this new doctrine of nature protection and sustainable development to get into the blood".
Trpak, one of a handful of people who first conceived the idea of the Sumava national park 30 years ago, said: "I am happy that the dream of my youth has been realized and the vision of Ladislav Vodak, one of the founding fathers of the park who is now 70 years old, has also come true".
· A record amount of over £43 million (around US$78 million) was allocated In 1990-91 to Oxfam's overseas program, covering some 2 900 projects In more than 70 countries. Grants from this NGO to deprived populations In developing countries range from as little as £179, to cover the basic needs of cataract patients In Bangladesh, to as much as £269 140 to supply drinking water to 200 000 Somali refugees for four months. But Oxfam officials underline the fact that money alone cannot solve problems and greater emphasis must be given to providing training, advice and simply talking with communities about the factors that put a restraint on their initiatives
For further information, contact: Oxfam, 274 Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 7DZ, England Telephone: 44-865-5677. Fax: 44-865-312417.
· To save the world's aquatic resources - threatened by overexploitation and pollution - over 45 scientific and professional organizations have decided to Intensify their joint efforts by setting up a structure for continuing collaboration. This decision was taken during the World Fisheries Congress held early last May In Athens. World catches totalled 97.3 million tonnes In 1990 compared to 74.6 million tonnes In 1981. It is estimated that they will reach 120 million tonnes at the turn of the century.
For further information on the World Fisheries Congress, contact: American Fisheries Society, 5410 Grosvenor Lane, Bethesda, MD 20134, USA.
· According to the Club of Bologna, mechanized agriculture In East European countries requires small machine tools for family-run farms. These countries find themselves handicapped by the fact that entire sectors of production are not yet mechanized and their sales and technical assistance circuits leave much to be desired. The Club of Bologna Is an Italian association which pro. mobs development strategies for mechanized agriculture worldwide. Its 70-odd members meet yearly In Bologna, during the International farm machinery fair. Its secretariat is located in Rome at the headquarters of the National Union of Farm machinery Manufacturers: Unacoma, 22A Via Spalianzani, 00161 Rome, Italy. Telephone: 396-419441, Fax: 39-6-4402722
NEW PERIODICAL ON FOOD, NUTRITION AND AGRICULTURE
Food, Nutrition and Agriculture is the title of a new review to be published by FAO every four months. Devoted to food policy, nutrition and strategies to reduce malnutrition prevailing in rural and urban areas, the review replaces Food and Nutrition, suspended in 1988 as a result of the budget cuts. Titles in the first issue include an article by Dr Gerd Junne, professor at the University of Amsterdam, on the impact of biotechnology on nutrition in developing countries, and a study by Serge Treche, researcher at the ORSTOM Centre, and Joachim Massamba, head of the Biology Department of the Faculty of Science in Brazzaville, on the future of cassava as a staple food in the Congo. Articles in the review are published in the writer's native tongue - English, French or Spanish - with a summary translated in the other two languages on either side of the two central columns of each page. For further information, write to: Janice Lee Albert, FAO, ESN, Room C-208, Via delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy.
TECHNICAL COOPERATION AMONG DEVELOPING COUNTRIES (TCDC)
The Field Programme Development Division (DDF) of FAO is publishing a newsletter on technical development programs among developing countries. Detailed in its latest issue are various initiatives undertaken by FAO in Asia to promote technical cooperation among developing countries, including an inventory of the capacities and needs of several countries of the region in the food and agriculture sectors. Available in English only, the TCDC Newsletter can be obtained by writing to: M. Ramadhar, Chief, TCDC, DDF, Room D-732, FAO, Via delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy.
SPECIAL SCIENCE AWARDS TO AMERICAN RESEARCHERS
The FAO has recognized two American scientists, Dr Edward F. Knipling and Dr Raymond C. Bushland, for their development of the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT). The technique was used recently to rapidly eradicate (December 1990 - October 1991) the screw worm in Libya, thus preventing the larvae of the fly from spreading throughout the African continent. Special science awards were presented to the two scientists during a ceremony at FAO headquarters in Rome by the Organization's Director-General. The latest newsletter from SECNA, FAO's special centre for the eradication of the screw worm, underlines that there is no longer any danger of seeing this plague re-appear in North Africa. During the campaign, the charter company German Cargo flew 1.3 billion sterile pupae from Tuxtla (Mexico) to Tripoli (Libya). More than US$30 million from donors assured the success of the eradication program, led by the FAO. In addition to this amount, Libya contributed US$26 million in cash and kind.
DEVELOPMENT OF FARM CREDIT
To help its Member States develop agricultural credit, the FAO offers rural banks the FAO Microbanking System, a software program that can be used on microcomputer and which facilitates the administration, use and management of savings, loans and time deposits. About 100 rural financial institutions in the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Thailand have already been equipped with this system, which will also be offered to African countries. According to the banks, the MicroBanker system increases profits, reduces costs and increases income thanks to the more efficient recovery of loans. For the client, it represents a decisive improvement in services, and above all the possibility of obtaining direct over-the-counter information on the balance of accounts. In Sri Lanka the MicroBanker system has reduced waiting time at the counter to 10 or 15 minutes, compared to over an hour previously when making a withdrawal. For further information, write to: MicroBanker, AGSM, FAO, Via delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy. Fax: (396)57973152.
INTEGRATED PEST CONTROL IN BURMA (MYANMAR)
An FAO/UNDP project for integrated pest control over a period of four years and costing US$3.3 million was launched in early 1990 in Burma (Myanmar). Project MYA/88/008 is focused on biological control, with the objective of reducing losses caused by insects in selected food crops and cotton, while strengthening quality control of imported or locally-produced pesticides. Analyses carried out within the framework of the project also make it possible to identify pesticide residues in agricultural products intended for both local consumption and export. Control methods introduced by the project reduce losses to crops caused by pests. These methods give priority to techniques that have the least possible effect on the balance between the pests and their natural enemies. This does not exclude the rational and extremely cautious use of chemical pesticides. Experts indicate that they have tested the virulence of local strains of Metharizium anisopliae, an insect-killing fungus. Two isolates from this parasite have yielded promising results in laboratory tests and are shortly to be tested in the open field. The insect most harmful to potato crops is a type of beetle belonging to a small plant-eating group. Peasants generally control them by the often inappropriate use of insecticide sprays. However, a local parasite of this pest is very active, but only at the end of the season. This parasite has been raised with success in the laboratory and its effectiveness is being evaluated. The sequence and importance of insect pests of cabbage have also been studied. In nurseries, the use of protective nets reduces damage by 50 per cent. In the field a two-stage warning system has been developed: inspectors from the National Plant Protection Service are observing the evolution of damage in sample fields and warn farmers as soon as a critical threshold has been reached. The farmers then decide to spray their fields, either according to the importance of the attack that they can observe directly by inspecting the crops, or by relying exclusively on the warning announced by the inspectors.
BOOSTING MILK PRODUCTION IN UGANDA
Uganda has managed to increase its milk production sevenfold over the last five years thanks to an FAO/UNDP project costing US$8.2 million, of which US$3.2 million are contributions in kind from the Uganda government. Thanks to this project (UGU/84/023), which is to end at the end of 1992, Uganda has made a good start on the road to self-sufficiency in this sector: it has set up a network of 720 dairy farms and several hundred farmers have been provided with ad hoc training and the necessary equipment. In Uganda, about 30 per cent of the agricultural sector's contribution to GDP (55 per cent) is derived from livestock. Milk is an important source of protein. Prior to 1973, the dairy industry was well-developed and largely met the local demand for milk.
KENYA FOREST PLANTATION INVENTORY
To help Kenya carry out an inventory of its forests and establish a management planning project, the FAO has launched a 30-month, US$ I .4 million project (KEN/86/052), jointly funded by UNDP and the New Zealand government. A computerized database has been created to produce management plans, which include in particular projections on the rational use of forest resources. State-owned forest resources total around 160 000 hectares, the majority of which are sited in the highlands at an altitude of over 2 000 metres. The principal plantation species are Cupressus lusitanica, Pinus patula, Eucalyptus saligna and Pinus radiata.
For mechanization to succeed, it must be put in a realistic context
by R.C. Gifford
After 40 years of argument, missed opportunities and wasted resources, it's high time for the international community to rethink the role of mechanization in rural development assistance programs.
Why are so many developing countries no closer to meeting the food requirements of their people today than they were 40 years ago? Experience shows: millions of farmers in these countries haven't been able to move from subsistence to market-oriented farming because they lack farm power and the right implements. And it is only after most of the farmers of the Third World make this transition that they'll be capable of feeding not only themselves but rapidly expanding urban populations as well.
"Development professionals", and the politicians who control financial and technical assistance, should be taking another look at their programs and projects. It's time to discard mere fads and slogans like "small is beautiful" (sometimes it isn't) that have done little in the last 20 years to help farmers in the Third World get the mechanization inputs and systems they want and need - whether small or large - to produce enough food at a reasonable price to feed their own people.
Through much of history, the need to boost agricultural production could be met mainly by expanding the area cultivated, and new technology evolved at a relatively slow pace. The developed countries have had the past 150 years for an orderly application of mechanical-power technology to their farm sector. Even in the most advanced countries, cereal was harvested in the early 19th century with the same basic hand-tools that had been used for nearly a thousand years. Draft animals were still the dominant form of farm power in the United States and Europe during the first quarter of the 20th century.
Advances in technology were made by farmers and private entrepreneurs, who could respond to the needs of agriculture without any government intervention and needed little from the public sector or the international community.
Today, however, conditions have changed. The population of the world, which was four billion in 1975 and 5.3 billion in 1990, is expected to top six billion by the end of this century. A substantial increase in agricultural production will be needed, and developing countries can't afford to wait for the slow evolution of agricultural technology if they want to achieve their national development objectives. They are under tremendous pressure to compress the equivalent of 150 years of development into five to 10 years, and their governments have little choice but to take the lead in establishing the economic and social environment needed for success.
Governments must first make decisions on two major mechanization issues:
what is the total demand for farm power based on increased agricultural production goals?
what combinations of hand-tool, draft-animal and mechanical-power technology are best suited, technically and in terms of social and economic objectives, for specific situations in the country?
Making these decisions is difficult, due to the complex relationships involved, the number of factors to be considered and the inevitable political conflicts.
Farmers also have decisions to make. They must establish what type, quantity and quality of tools, draft power and equipment they can pay for. They must consider the potential for increased production and income, relief of drudgery - perhaps even the social benefits in prestige or community influence - advanced forms of mechanization technology can bring.
The farmers' decisions are less complex than those of governments, but to make them on a rational basis can be difficult. Farmers in the developing world don't usually have the farm records they need to guide them, and the help provided by extension service personnel is notoriously weak in most countries. It is hard for the farmer to fully understand and weigh alternatives because access to local models of mechanization systems is limited.
The international community, aid agencies and commercial financial institutions are also faced with complex decisions, which are often economically risky and politically sensitive. Commercial institutions are chiefly concerned with profit and need reasonable assurance that money loaned for agricultural mechanization can and will be paid back.
Bilateral aid agencies often have uncomfortable political choices. They feel an obligation to support their own machinery industry by insisting that their products be part of their aid packages, but they also want to be seen by their peers as providing the right inputs for the job.
In recent years, two new considerations have arisen: energy and the environment. Starting with the energy crisis of 1973, which sent oil prices shooting up dramatically, concern has grown over the need to conserve the world's supply of liquid fossil fuel and to increase the efficiency with which it is used. The needs of the urban sector tend to dominate government policy, and instead of giving food production priority, the use of energy in agriculture is challenged. Usually the challenge focuses on farm machinery, which takes the largest share of total commercial energy used in agriculture - just over 50 per cent, including operation and manufacture.
What the most vocal critics fail to point out is that agricultural production's share of the total world use of commercial energy for all purposes is only about 3.5 per cent and farm machinery's share only 1.79 per cent. It is seldom mentioned that farm machinery uses less than 90 million metric tons of oil equivalent a year for its operation and manufacture - while military and civilian jet aircraft use about 93 million metric tons worldwide.
The effects of agricultural mechanization on the environment have not always been good. Improper selection and use of systems for land-clearing and cultivation can cause excessive soil erosion and compaction, which make soil and water less productive. But environmental damage can be minimized by choosing and operating machinery better. It is also important to keep environmental concerns in perspective, by relating environmental costs to food production benefits.
Too often agricultural mechanization has been introduced and applied without adequate planning, direction or support, and the results are both unexpected and unwanted. Concern over this situation led the FAO to start actively encouraging and supporting formulation of national agricultural mechanization strategies in developing countries. This campaign, launched in 1975, was strengthened last year by the emphasis the 26th session of the FAO Conference placed on agricultural development strategy.
Putting machines in context
A rise in agricultural production is the prime requirement for setting the whole rural development process in motion. But the type, amount and level of technology chosen to meet the objectives of rural development must reflect the need for more than just higher production. It makes little sense to concentrate entirely on boosting food production when it is well known that production shortfalls are not responsible for much of the hunger in the world today. Poor people are hungry because they can't pay for the quantity and quality of food to meet their basic nutritional needs. The introduction and application of advanced mechanization technology must, therefore, also reflect the need to increase job opportunities, stimulate development of non-farm rural activity and generate benefits that accrue equally to all segments of rural society. It must help change social and institutional structures and the distribution of wealth and commercial traditions as well as lead to continued innovation.
Whether in human, animal or mechanical form, farm power is an essential component of all production, harvest, transport and processing operations in agriculture. Today, humans provide most of the power for farming in the developing countries - from nearly 60 per cent in Latin America to nearly 90 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa - and, with rural population growing, this is not expected to change appreciably over the next decade.
Animal power currently contributes nearly 10 per cent of total farm power in sub-Saharan Africa, 17 per cent in the Near East and North Africa, 28 per cent in Asia (excluding China) and 19 per cent in Latin America. Mainly because of increased demand for meat and milk and population pressure on grazing land, draft animal use and numbers are expected to decline significantly in some regions by the year 2000.
Mechanization on the rise
The use of mechanical-power technology for developing country agriculture is projected to rise in all regions of the world except Asia (excluding China) by the year 2000. In sub-Saharan Africa, it is expected to double from 1984 levels, while in the Near East and North Africa it will be up by nearly eight per cent and in Latin America by nearly 30 per cent. Tractors will play an increasingly important role, especially in Africa, in raising agricultural output by helping extend harvested areas. Theoretically, there is scope for using draft animals for this task, but in practice, disease problems and the lack of a tradition of using draft animals in most : countries still tends to limit their use.
Most developing countries are already capable of producing their own hand-tools and draft-animal implements. Countries with a higher level of industrial development could manufacture most of their requirements for tractor-drawn implements and assemble tractors with imported and domestically produced components as well.
But government policies are holding them back. Failure to allocate raw materials inhibits the growth of village blacksmiths and small rural industries, which would be able to fabricate hand-tools and animal-drawn implements at low cost. Unrealistic import duties and tariffs on steel and machinery components discourage establishment of the medium scale industries that could supply tractor-drawn implements and stationary equipment, and trade policies are often barriers to regional cooperation in farm machinery manufacture, which could reduce costs and improve the quality of tools and equipment available to farmers. This is a pity because hand-tool and draft-animal technology will continue to be the mainstay of farm mechanization in the Third World for many years to come.
A growing trend
Farmers the world over are becoming more and more aware of the ways in which mechanical-power technology could increase their productivity, reduce drudgery and help them lead a more comfortable life. Their determination to acquire more advanced forms of mechanization technology is becoming increasingly evident in nearly every developing country. This trend cannot be stopped, and even slowing it down will become increasingly difficult. The international community should accept this reality and adopt new approaches and innovative procedures for assistance that are focused on guidance for mechanization in Third World agriculture rather than on control.
It is usually impossible for visiting development professionals, acting alone, to determine which tools, implements or equipment are appropriate. They cannot possibly know enough about the technical, economic, social and political interrelationships that are crucial in each situation. It is local people, particularly farmers and other end-users of mechanization technology who, with the help of professionals when necessary, must decide what forms and combinations of mechanization input they need. To make their decisions they should consider:
the constraints mechanization could help them overcome;
the mechanization systems that are technically suitable and environmentally friendly;
the inputs they can afford and are prepared to buy;
the effects different levels of mechanization could have on social structures and development goals;
the institutional measures that are or could be put in place to support introduction and sustained use of mechanization systems;
the availability of national resources to acquire or mobilize the mechanization inputs they want.
What is appropriate
There is an appropriate level and type of mechanization technology for every farming system in every developing country. But attitudes toward mechanization development assistance and the policies and procedures of the past 40 years have not supported the introduction and sustained use of that technology and are not appropriate for the future.
The late Lester Pearson, Canadian statesman and chairman of the first FAO Conference in 1945, once commented: "... all politicians thought themselves experts on education and agriculture: the former because they had been schooled; the latter, because if not part of a personal past, farming was our heritage only a generation or two ago, and besides, it seems so easy to do, just scratch and plant and God does the rest - look how many illiterates have mastered the art... ".
If Mr Pearson were alive today, he might well be equally caustic about many development professionals, who have assumed authority for decisions on farm mechanization assistance to the developing world for four decades. All too frequently their claims of expertise in the field are based solely on their ability to drive a car. After all, they rationalize, a car is not unlike a tractor because both have rubber tires and an internal combustion engine.
It is such uninformed people, aided and abetted by politicians, who are responsible for the graveyards of discarded tractors, the warehouses full of plows too heavy to be pulled by local oxen and the thousands of spades distributed under the guise of appropriate technology - but impossible for barefoot farmers to use.
It is often despite the development professionals and politicians that countries, particularly in Asia, have slowly but steadily introduced and sustained the use of progressively more advanced forms of mechanized technology - with visible benefits in production and in the farmers' standard of living.
by Paul Starkey
The internal combustion engine may dominate farming in Japan, Western Europe and North America, but animal power is still alive and pulling virtually everywhere else on the planet. By far more affordable and environmentally benign than gasoline or diesel, draft animals still provide most of the world's people with the vital power not only for producing crops and transporting them to market, but for water-raising, logging, milling, land-levelling, road-building and a host of other jobs.
Technology, however, rarely stands still, and animal traction is no exception. In most developing regions, patterns of draft animal use are evolving, offering new opportunities and presenting new problems to planners and farmers alike. Sub-Saharan Africa, especially, is taking a new look at animal power.
The kinds of changes taking place in animal power use aren't always what one would expect - even in regions like Asia, which have employed animal traction for thousands of years.
Throughout the East, draft animal use is so essential a part of smallholders' lives that there would seem little scope for further expansion. The domestic water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) is everywhere. Yet there are still areas where animals are being introduced for the first time. In some transmigration schemes in Indonesia, for example, virgin land is being brought under cropping and animal traction is being introduced as a new technology. In rapidly-industrializing regions where many animal-powered operations have been taken over by motor power, the number of work animals has, paradoxically, not declined. Motor power and animal power have often proven complementary, and work animals released from pumping or tillage may be assigned alternative tasks.
Admittedly, when electric or diesel pumps replace animal-powered water-raising systems, the number of working animals may drop, just as the number of animals used for plowing has fallen with the rapid spread of motorized tillage systems in areas of intensive production like India's Punjab or the rice-producing regions of Southeast Asia. But in most of Asia, traditional systems persist. Yoking methods have hardly changed in recent years, and traditional wooden implements and wheels are still popular, though farmers are slowly turning to steel tillage implements and pneumatic tires for carts.
An interesting change is the increasing employment of female work animals. In Java, an estimated 80 per cent of draft animals are females, and the proportion of working cows is rising in Bangladesh. Cows and she-buffalo can provide seasonal power for tillage - and also produce calves and milk. Farmers consider multi-purpose female animals particularly suited to intensive smallholder systems where animals are closely monitored and often stall-fed. Oxen remain popular in areas where animals are plentiful and extensive grazing is still possible. Castrated males are generally preferred for more specialized full-time work such as commercial transport, contract plowing and forestry.
In the Americas
Animal traction has been part of smallholder farming in the Americas for mere centuries, rather than the millennia of Asia or North Africa, but those centuries have been long enough to develop original approaches. It's traditional in tropical Latin America, for example, to yoke oxen or bulls in pairs to pull long-beamed wooden arcs. Wooden-wheeled oxcarts are also common. As in Asia, there has been a slow move toward steel implements and carts with pneumatic tires, but traditional implements also persist because they are cheap and can be made in the villages.
In Argentina, Chile, Canada, the United States and other nations with more temperate climates, horses have been used for tillage as well as transport. Even though the animal power that was so widespread earlier this century has largely been replaced by motors on large-scale farms in North America, animal traction is still used in some farming systems in the United States and Canada. Because of their religious beliefs the Amish employ only animal traction, usually horses or mules, and still make a profit. Their animal-powered techniques are efficient, and they have little need for bank loans so their farming is both ecologically and economically sustainable. Oxen and horses are also used on many small farms in Canada and the United States for extracting timber, and ox-pulling competitions are big attractions at state fairs in Ontario, Quebec and New England.
Africa, a mixed bag
North Africa and the Nile Valley have a long history of using oxen, cows, bulls, donkeys, mules, horses, buffalo and camels for tillage and transport. In recent years, low fuel prices in North Africa have encouraged a switch to motorized systems for largescale plowing, irrigation and transport, but animal traction persists in smallholder systems. In Morocco, which is not an oil-producing state, more than one million draft animals are still employed, and animal and motor-power complement each other well.
There is also a long history of using work animals on the Horn of Africa. In Ethiopia, which has Africa's largest population of draft animals, traditional cropping systems almost invariably involve the use of the wooden "maresha" and plow, pulled by pairs of oxen. Pack donkeys and mules are also widely used in Ethiopia. Elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa, animals have long been employed for transport by pastoralists and traders, but animal-drawn implements are not used in traditional shifting cultivation farming systems.
Animal traction for tillage and for wheeled transport was introduced into sub-Saharan Africa during the colonial period, when pairs of oxen were yoked to pull imported metal implements, but the practice was slow to spread during the first half of this century. The areas where it was adopted first were those with good crop marketing systems, particularly for cotton and groundnuts.
Animal traction is now used throughout sub-Saharan Africa, but is still new enough that the elders of many communities can vividly recall the day on which their village first tried work animals.
During the 1960s and '70s, animal traction received relatively little attention from the governments of newly-independent African states. This was a period when African agriculture was expected to convert as rapidly to tractors as the farms of Europe and North America had done.
But by the late 1970s, higher oil prices, foreign exchange shortages and a number of failed tractor schemes proved rapid motorization was not, after all, practicable. Governments and donors alike began viewing animal traction as a serious development option.
During the 1970s and '80s, donor-assisted projects were established in Africa to introduce animal traction and study its use. The projects promoted "improved" implements, yokes and harnesses and sometimes "improved", i.e. exotic, animals as well. Though the projects published optimistic reports about their successes, farmers adopted few of the innovations. This was because the projects tended to ignore social and economic factors and the risks, variability and complexity of local farming systems. They also failed to consider that, while local animals need minimal management, exotic breeds require a lot of feeding and health care in order to thrive. While heavy implements made of high-quality steel work well on research stations, they are not convenient for the small, irregular fields of local farms.
These lessons have only recently come to light, assisted by the creation of animal traction networks. Through workshops and publications, the West Africa Animal Traction Network and the Animal Traction Network for Eastern and Southern Africa have promoted an exchange of information and liaison. Projects and practitioners are encouraged to report their failures as well as their successes, and patterns have emerged from the pooling of disappointing results.
It is now clear that despite much well-intentioned work by donor-assisted projects, few technological changes in animal traction have really taken hold in Africa in the past quarter century. Most implements and yoking systems currently in use are similar in design to those available a generation ago. The same is true of many other rural technologies, from hand-hoe to village water distribution systems.
The situation on small farms contrasts sharply with the rapid change in urban technologies and the technological developments on large-scale, commercial farms.
Animal power on the rise
Although donor-assisted development projects in Africa have had little discernable impact on the technology itself, they have often proved remarkably successful in transferring the general practice of animal traction. There have been some remarkable rates of adoption over the last 20 years. In Cote d'Ivoire, the number of oxen used in one area rose from 2 000 to 38 000 in just 15 years, stimulated by training services and a package of inputs made available by a cotton development company. Rapid rates of adoption were also reported recently in parts of Benin (from 3 000 to 35 000), Togo (from 2 000 to 12 000) and Sierra Leone (from 50 to 1 000), and the same thing is now happening in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and southern Mali.
Although projects helped by providing trainers, implements and credit, their effect was often simply to speed up the natural diffusion of animal traction. In many countries, it is farmers moving from one area to another who introduce animal traction technology. A recent survey of Zambia's Copperbelt showed the effect of farmer migration. While nearly all the traditional hoe-farmers were born in the province, most farmers who now use animal traction were born elsewhere. They, or their parents, came from areas where animal traction is used.
The areas where animals have never been used usually have low population densities so that farmers can use bush-fallow shifting cultivation. Animal powered tillage becomes attractive as land pressures increase and farmers clear land on a more permanent basis. Many of these areas have rainfall of more than 1 000 millimetres, and a combination of natural forest and disease had restricted growth of cattle populations. The shortage of work animals is often critical, and the process of "oxen-ization" depends on successful "cattle-ization".
In Zambia and elsewhere, extension services have had clear technical messages for those wishing to try animal traction for the first time, but advice has been less clear on how farmers already using draft oxen could improve their technology. What information was available on "improving" implements and harnessing systems was not taken up. For more than a generation, extension services have been telling farmers to adjust their plows "correctly", yet 95 per cent of farmers remove the adjuster from their plow.
Which, then, is correct: the extension advice or farmer practice? One suspects that 100 000 farmers cannot all be wrong. It is sometimes claimed that farmers ignore extension advice on "improved" technologies because of their alleged conservatism, but this seems unlikely because there are also plenty of examples of farmers rapidly adopting new animal traction technologies that they find truly helpful. The spread of donkey traction in West Africa is a good example.
Donor-assisted projects and government extension services promoted animal traction during the 1970s and '80s in the Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and southern Mali. Farmers, who had never used work animals before, learned how to work with yoked pairs of oxen and relatively heavy implements. But, once trained in principles of animal traction, the farmers began using a completely different technology, based on donkeys.
With a single donkey and low-power implements like scarifying tines and seeders, farmers were able to cultivate their land quickly and with less effort. Donkeys were cheap, and because donkey meat is not eaten, the animals could be left to graze unguarded with little risk of theft. Children could easily work with donkeys, and in the flat terrain of West Africa, donkey carts proved ideal for carrying people around the farm and goods to market. This served the farmers' purpose so they rapidly adopted a new species and harnessing system, different implements and an alternative tillage system. The donkey technology is still being transferred from farmer to farmer in the Gambia, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau, encouraged by close cultural and trading links with Senegal where donkeys have been in use for years.
African farmers have also started on their own to use cows for work, much to the surprise of official extension services. A quarter of the farmers m one region of Senegal now use draft cows. They find that with good management, work cows are more profitable because they also produce calves and some milk. Cows are in regular use in parts of southern Africa where this was almost unthinkable a generation ago. In Zimbabwe, the trend toward work cows came about as land pressures increased in the main areas of smallholder farming. In Zambia, the use of cows accelerated because a tick-borne disease had decimated ox herds, causing a shortage of work oxen.
Large-scale farming In several southern and east african countries, large-scale commercial farmers, who own several tractors, are also considering the technical and financial advantages of animal power. While most large-scale farmers continue to use tractors for rapid tillage, they are turning to animals for transport and for precise, specialized operations, such as tying tobacco ridges. One commercial farmer in Zambia uses 50 pairs of work oxen for on-farm transport and claims they are reliable and sustainable and require little management time. Furthermore, his computerized accounts show significant savings in capital and running costs compared to motorized alternatives.
Transport benefits The number of animal-drawn carts in use in Africa has increased dramatically in the past 20 years. Roughly 10 per cent of African farmers who own draft animals also have a cart, and the number is rising every year. The 600 000 animal-drawn carts currently in use in sub-Saharan Africa may well reach one million before long. Although there are far fewer carts than there are plows, carts are more important than their numbers indicate. Unlike soil-tillage implements, they are used year-round, and shared through systems of hire and loan that benefit many people.
Animal-drawn transport brings economic and social benefits, and the addition of carts can be a major stimulus to the local economy. Besides reducing the drudgery of personal transport, carts make it easier to market farm produce. Instead of a person carrying a head-load of produce to market, an ox cart or donkey cart can transport several sacks or baskets full of fruit, vegetables, grain or fodder. Carts also make it easier to collect and distribute harvests, water, building materials, timber, farm implements and other goods.
Once carts become available, farmers start to use them for activities no one had thought of before. Planners have sometimes overlooked the increase in transport and economic activities associated with animal-drawn carts, but some pre-introduction surveys now suggest one cart is not enough for a household. Two carts per large household are no longer unusual in many African villages where animal-drawn carts were almost unheard of just one generation ago.
Animal power is almost essential if farmers want to make full use of crop residues, composts and manures. In both West and southern Africa, farmers now use animal-drawn carts to stock crop residues they had previously left in the fields. Human energy alone cannot be expected to transport large quantities of animal manure, but with a cart it is a simple and straightforward operation. In Ethiopia and North Africa, donkeys with panniers or pack saddles play a similar role, carrying both fodder for animals and manure for the crops.
Most African carts are probably made by local artisans using axles from old vehicles, but the supply of axles seldom keeps pace with demand. In West Africa, purpose-built, steel-framed carts fitted with roller-bearings and pneumatic tires have proven popular. Despite their relatively high cost, tens of thousands of these have been purchased, showing that farmers are willing to spend money on higher-technology equipment if they find it profitable.
In southern and East Africa, farmers often use animal-drawn sleds to carry produce. These are cheap to make and can be converted into carts by adding simple wheels cut from tree trunks. Several organizations in southern and East Africa have promoted "appropriate technology" carts with larger wooden wheels and bearings, but farmers rarely consider these appropriate, and their acceptance has been minimal. In contrast, farmers have rapidly adopted carts with pneumatic tires and roller-bearings everywhere they are available.
The woman's place
Worldwide, it has usually been men who work with draft animals and operate animal-drawn implements. Children watched over grazing and helped with animal-control, and women carried food to stall-fed animals. Women might do the seeding behind the plow, but they rarely handled the plow themselves. Now this situation is slowly changing because of changing circumstances. Children are making use of increased educational opportunities and are no longer available to help the farmer tend work animals. In southern Africa in particular, the migration of men to urban areas has forced women to undertake field work previously performed by men, and it is no longer unusual to see women plowing with draft animals. Women are also taking control of animal transport, especially when donkeys are involved because donkeys have fewer associations with male dominance and are considered more manageable than work oxen.
It is a safe bet that animal traction will remain a major power source in developing countries for the foreseeable future, especially for small-scale farmers in Asia, Latin America and North Africa where it has been used for centuries. Looking to the future, it is also possible to say that: . new implements and techniques will only spread rapidly when they have clear economic as well as technical advantages over more traditional technologies; animal-drawn carts will increasingly make use of automotive technology, and pneumatic tires will become more common; as farming systems intensify, female animals will increasingly be used for work; . animal traction is likely to continue spreading quite rapidly in sub-Saharan Africa and to be recognized as a vital power source for small holder farmers. Animals will receive better training, and the number of people working with each team will be reduced. "One person, one team" will eventually become as common in sub-Saharan Africa as it is in Ethiopia and Asia; although oxen will continue to be the main draft animals, donkeys will increasingly be used for light tillage and transport in semi-arid areas. Work cows will become common; the number of animal-drawn carts will increase noticeably, and their adoption will stimulate increased local trade and economic activity; . farmers will probably want to use work animals for secondary tillage and weeding, and this will stimulate implement manufacturers to improve the quality and availability of their cultivators and ridgers; national agencies and donor-assisted projects will increasingly recognize that the benefits of existing animal traction technology are well-proven and that many constraints to animal traction are of an economic, rather than technical nature. But it will also become clear that animal traction users can be helped to benefit from recent developments in materials, processes and technologies. Ways will be found to help farmers already using animal power to increase the utility and efficiency of their work animals.
Illuminating a fresh path toward selective motorization
by D.J. Greig
It's better to light a candle than curse the darkness", says the Chinese proverb, and where the recent history of the motorization of farming in developing countries is concerned, it might almost be a motto.
Darkness - in the form of misjudgement, mistakes, misunderstandings and misapplication of effort - has unquestionably dominated the past four decades, slowing progress and providing pessimists with abundant examples of good intentions gone awry. Many of these errors are being repeated still.
Of course, there has been some progress. FAO published data on tractors in use and arable land in cultivation (see table) gives an indication. But if the worldwide development enterprise, launched in the wake of the Second World War, is ultimately to be seen as more than what one critic calls "a ruin in the intellectual landscape", clear light must be thrown on the errors that have been made and a fresh path charted.
It's time to light some candles.
Tales of woe
Almost every month another tale of woe seems to surface about machines that can't perform the tasks for which they were purchased, about engines that break down and can't be repaired because they haven't been serviced, and about shortages of replacement parts because users can't afford to buy them or governments are unable or unwilling to allocate foreign exchange to import them.
Why are inappropriate machines and equipment still being supplied to developing countries?
There are many reasons, probably first among them the indisputable fact that manufacturers of tractors, implements and electric motors in developed countries are profit-oriented commercial enterprises, which always welcome additional export markets to increase sales and profits. Development aid programs have supported these firms' sales for a variety of economic, technical and political reasons, but the technology transferred from developed to developing countries in this way has rarely succeeded, because it was designed for other farmers in other parts of the world.
On this point, however, there is hope. Signs of a more realistic approach are beginning to emerge. Equipment manufacturers and development agencies alike appear to be realizing that farmers in developing countries are not the homogeneous group of conforming recipients of aid that many planners previously assumed. They are beginning to understand that there is a difference between the machinery and equipment commonly used in the developed countries and what is appropriate to the needs of farmers elsewhere. They are starting to see that providing unsuitable technology, even if it is free, does not further development and is not acceptable to either the donor or recipient countries.
Introducing a single new element of technology to a stabilized set of resources rarely succeeds, even in technically advanced countries where there are fewer initial basic constraints. A completely new production system, such as a new grain-drying and storage unit selected for local conditions of grain supply and distribution, is often more successful - provided it can be serviced and maintained. That means, for instance, that well-chosen electric motors on processing machinery may be a better investment than a tractor and soil-engaging implement, because they need less service and maintenance and so are less affected by the level of available support services.
But allowing commercial pressures to blind us to the advantages of such trade-offs isn't the only problem. Several other roadblocks have been ham pering motorization, including misunderstandings due to terminology, underestimation of costs, and failure to appreciate energy and fuel constraints.
To mechanize/to motorize
Confusion over terminology is a serious problem in planning the right mechanization for a developing country. Technical terms are introduced by specialists who know exactly what they mean, but the same words may have an entirely different meaning for other people. When the specialist speaks in terms that are already in general use to describe something quite different, the words may be misinterpreted and lead to the misrepresentation of basic concepts.
The verb "to mechanize" is a case in point. The Oxford Dictionary definition is "to give mechanical character to...", but in the specialist world of agricultural engineering it means much more. Mechanization describes the use of any device, powered by any means, for agricultural production and related activities. Mechanization can thus cover hand-hoes, animal-drawn plows, tractors and implements, grain-milling equipment and a range of crop-spraying equipment. It includes any device or operation using any energy source to improve effectiveness and efficiency of agricultural or related operations. It certainly is not limited to describing tractors with internal combustion engines, although this is the common interpretation.
To "motorize" was originally a military term for equipping foot soldiers with motor transport. In modern usage it is an all-embracing term to describe all operations involving the use of power derived from sources other than the direct application of human muscle energy. It includes all systems that convert external sources of energy through mechanical devices into forms of power that can be used in agricultural production operations. This could mean the use of electric motors and wind pumps as well as the tractor. It often describes the degree of application of external energy by a country's farmers, and is calculated as the ratio of the power available per unit area of land, usually as kilowatts per hectare.
Getting to the real costs
Many are the users of machinery and equipment who complain that the cost of machinery is too high and its utilization too low. They suggest the cost of a machine should be reduced by expanding its use to non-agricultural operations.
Herein lies a clue to mechanization's bad name among farmers, planners, governments, banks and aid agencies. They fail to consider that the high cost of agricultural machinery is unlikely to be reduced by using it as well for such vital - but non-revenue-generating - social services as rural transport. Only if realistic charges are made for the additional services will they reduce unit costs.
The misunderstanding goes deeper. The real problem is not necessarily underutilizing the machinery, but undervaluing the crops produced with the help of the machinery. Farmers are expected to produce low-cost food for the urban population, but agricultural machinery is expensive to own and operate, and its cost must be offset by the prices paid the farmer for the food the machinery helps produce.
If crop prices can't rise but must remain fairly stable, then there must be an increase in production, either by cultivating more hectares or increasing productivity per hectare. It is in giving the farmer and the farmer's family the ability to increase the area cultivated that the more obvious benefits of increased power become apparent. To boost productivity per hectare requires greater attention to growing crops and more inputs such as weeding, fertilizers and improved seeds. Machinery can provide timeliness of operation only when the additional power available is used effectively.
Too often in the past, planners have underestimated the cost of agricultural machinery, making it appear worthwhile in situations where its operation was not viable without subsidy. The concept of depreciation is a leading culprit in under-costing equipment, making it appear more affordable than it really is. Depreciation is a basic factor used in calculating machinery costs, yet has little to do with the real cost of owning or operating it. Calculations of depreciation were first introduced to regularize allowances against tax liability in developed countries. But a farmer's tractor or implement is a production resource in the same way as fertilizer or pesticides. Why should its cost be calculated differently?
Machinery and equipment costs are often figured as if capital had no earning potential and inflation did not exist. Calculations are usually made at constant prices and using free capital, both of which lead to misleading results over a set period. The real cost to a farmer who owns and operates a tractor and set of implements is the loss of the earnings he has used to purchase, hire or lease, to maintain and to operate the equipment over a period, compared with the earnings he would have had over the same period without the equipment. If there is no subsidy, the extra revenue generated by the equipment has to cover the losses in revenue the farmer has incurred by buying or renting, maintaining and operating the equipment.
The selection of the right equipment for each farm family is absolutely vital and is possible only if the estimated costs of its use are as realistic and accurate as possible. Methods for calculating costs of machinery and equipment as a cash flow, taking into account local rates of interest on borrowed and invested capital and the effects of inflation, have been worked out to help assess cost in the later stages of planning - provided local data are available.
Energy and fuel
It is generally agreed that a lack of energy is the major factor keeping the small-scale farmer from increasing production and productivity. What is now being debated is what form an increased energy input should take. The two choices for providing energy to mechanize agriculture come down to:
power in a rotating shaft;
a mobile linear force, almost always obtained by converting power in a rotating shaft into
draft force through a wheel in contact with the ground.
Electric motors are limited to providing non-mobile shaft power in a rotating shaft because batteries are too heavy and costly to supply electrical energy to a mobile motor. In the final analysis, the internal combustion engine based on spark or compression ignition combustion processes is likely to remain a main source of additional power for the farmer for years to come.
The search for more economical fuel consumption is leading to lighter vehicles, smaller engines and lower drag factors, all enabling the use of higher gearing. But at the same time, emission control, safety and noise reduction all lead to increased weight, complexity of design and fuel consumption. Because agricultural machines are relatively slow-moving, drag is not a problem, but emission control and the cost of importing fuel are becoming important considerations.
The logical move is to look for alternative fuels to replace or to mix with petrol and diesel. Here, there do not appear to be insurmountable technical problems. With a suitably modified or redesigned engine, it has been demonstrated that sunflower oil or sugar cane could be processed into feasible alternatives to liquid fossil fuels. The Brazilian sugar cane industry produces more energy than it consumes and so has a positive energy output (see Ceres No. 133). It is believed that sunflower production, under favorable circumstances, can also achieve a positive energy output. For other crops, the energy balance is less well-defined and is easily rendered negative by small changes in climatic and soil conditions.
Another consideration is that, at today's prices, vegetable oils are more valuable than mineral oils. A blend of 80 per cent coconut oil and 20 per cent diesel fuel is effective in a diesel engine, provided the engine is fitted with an upgraded fuel filtration system. But, given the relative prices of coconut oil and diesel fuel, selling the coconut oil for other uses provides the grower with a larger income than selling it as fuel. Using alternative fuels for engines developed to operate on mineral-based oils also increases engine deposits, can cause premature mechanical failure and makes increased maintenance necessary.
Down the road
What then is the solution to the problem of providing farmers in developing countries with more power?
The jobs that demand the most energy in crop production are soil tillage and crop weeding. It also takes considerable energy to transform crops into human food, and this processing usually falls to the women of the family, who already have the responsibility for housekeeping, child care and field work. The energy requirement for these tasks cannot be avoided, but it would be unrealistic to suggest that increased farm power for small-scale farmers in the developing countries must be based only on motorized mechanization and liquid fossil fuel energy. Most farmers cannot pay the price, and most governments don't have the foreign exchange.
There are, however, actions that the governments of developing countries and international organizations can take to help farmers mechanize. The first step is for governments to formulate national agricultural mechanization strategies that will rationalize the role of all forms of mechanization technology in agricultural development. Governments should consider:
following the principle of selective mechanization, whereby motorization is reserved foronly the most critical and energy-demanding tasks in target crops and for target farmer groups;
adopting measures to reduce the cost of mechanization in general and motorization in particular. These include improving machinery maintenance and repair, increasing training in machinery operation and management and revising machinery ownership patterns to effect greater efficiency;
supporting establishment and growth of local manufacturing and servicing enterprises to fabricate tools and implements and rebuild worn components in motorized equipment;
improving extension personnel's knowledge of the selection and effective use of mechanization equipment.
There were significant advances in the 1980s in providing motorized mechanization to small-scale farmers in many developing countries, particularly in Asia. Faster action over a wider area is needed if the farmers of the developing world are to have the power they need to meet national food production goals and overall rural development objectives - but not wholesale action. It must always be remembered that no two farming families are identical, either in their potential for increasing production or in their motivation to overcome the power constraints affecting their farming operations.
Getting the most from hand-tool technology is more than a
question of implement design
by K.V. Vanek
More than 90 per cent of African and 60 per cent of Latin American farmers have little or no access to any mechanical energy source but their own muscles. Their extremely low incomes make buying even the simplest implement a major investment - and the number of such farmers is increasing.
As a result, governments in developing countries are being forced to focus more and more sharply on the question: "How can farming systems based chiefly on hand-tool technology boost productivity in a sustainable way, and what inputs are needed to help the process along?"
Simply giving lip-service to the need for "appropriate technology", or calling for a vaguely general "improvement" in tool and implement design won't do much to answer this urgent question. Specific technologies and inputs must be developed for specific situations, taking into account a whole web of factors that affect tool use.
Only when the constraints and advantages of each context are understood can the kind of improvements be made - not only in tool design, but in tool choice and employment - that will lead to real production advances.
The main limiting factor in human-powered technology is the fact
that sustainable human energy inputs are very low. The human body can be
compared to a heat engine which uses chemical energy from food as its fuel. This
energy is converted to mechanical work with a limited efficiency: part of the
energy intake must be used for maintenance of the body itself and only the
balance is available for conversion into mechanical work. Under optimum
conditions, human energy conversion efficiency is roughly 20 per cent.
Under the typical tropical conditions of many developing countries (high humidity and high temperature), however, efficiency drops to 10 per cent. This basic limitation is unavoidable, and must be considered in planning.
Most studies of human energy expenditure are expressed in terms of chemical energy expenditure, namely, food energy required to perform a given task. The sustainable human-power potential is quoted at 70 to 500 Watts (FAO, 1991). This corresponds to a net mechanical power of seven to 50 W. assuming a 10 per cent conversion efficiency. Female sustainable power is estimated at 75 per cent, and the power of a child at 50 per cent of that of an adult male.
If a job offers the possibility of alternating between hard and light work, such as pounding grain in a mortar and then sifting, or screening the flour, the hard work done in a relatively short time may equal 70 to 100 W. (As martial arts practitioners are aware, for a brief instant - one second or less - a human can produce power surges of one kilowatt or more.)
The power that can be delivered by farmers is further reduced by the energy conversion factor (always less than 100 per cent) of the tool or simple machine being used, and the efficiency of hand-operated tools can be improved only marginally. The mechanical energy input per unit area of traditional Third World hand-tool technology is approximately 1/50 to 1/100 of the energy input in an industrialized country, where each unit of mechanical energy may be supported by two to four units of additional external inputs (fertilizers, agricultural chemicals, irrigation, etc.).
Even the physical improvement of tools, by using higher-quality materials or more efficient machine parts to make them, can backfire. The "better" tool may cost too much, putting it beyond farmers' pocket-books.
Manpower availability is another key strand in the web. For optimum use of human energy resources, an even distribution of the work load throughout the year is preferable. High-intensity, irrigated paddy rice production with two or three harvests per year provides a close-to-ideal example. At the other end of the spectrum, however, are rain-fed farming systems in arid countries. There, distribution is worst because peak demand is concentrated in a short time, with work loads as much as five times higher than average.
Distribution of work between males and females in traditional societies may further reduce availability of labor during peak seasons.
Given such a multiplicity of factors influencing tool use, to look at the development of human-powered technology as a simple question of tool and implement design - as is done in many development programs - is to ignore reality.
Human-powered agricultural technologies are usually classified by the type of operation they perform - implements for land preparation, sowing and planting, cultivation, harvesting, etc. For purposes of development planning, however, they can be divided according to technical complexity, into three basic groups: (1) simple, rigid tools with no moving parts (hoes, spades, sickles); (2) implements and simple machines for field work; (3) other implements and simple machines for stationary applications.
The scope for possible improvement will vary with each of these groups, according to the social, geographical and other factors that make up the context in which they are used.
Simple tools with no moving parts - A hoe, used for land preparation, ridging, weeding, etc. is a typical example of this kind of tool. Its movement is guided only by human senses, which may result in uneven depth of hoeing, some places being left untreated, or other forms of unequal quality of work. On the other hand, virtually any piece of land can be hoed, regardless of previous preparation. The hoe is the principal tool of traditional farmers using fallow systems and multicropping techniques.
The shape of the blade and length of the handle are usually very specific to a region or a farming operation, and hoes are not manufactured in many sizes. Farmers usually keep a hoe until it wears out completely. A new hoe will be used for land opening by the strongest member of the family, while worn (and thus smaller and lighter) hoes are used by women and children.
The main scope for further development in this category lies in improving the quality of materials and manufacturing methods. However, this should be carried out gradually and in accord with local conditions. Imposing overly-strict quality standards on hand-tools, or imposing less strict standards prematurely, could create negative effects for local, small-scale manufacturers - such as blacksmiths - who would be unable to meet the standards. They might be forced out of the market by larger tool makers, leading to unemployment, or the resulting tools might become too expensive for local people to buy.
Implements and simple machines for field work The difference between a simple hand-tool and a simple implement can be seen in the next step up from the hoe - the hand-wheel hoe. The latter is guided by a wheel, and the depth of cultivation is adjustable, ensuring greater uniformity of work, higher productivity and less fatigue. The wheel-hoe is more specialized than the ordinary hoe, however.
It is designed for inter-row weeding, and the soil must be well prepared and free of stones, tree stumps, etc. before using it.
Another simple implement is the hand-seed drill, which allows the depth of seeding and discharge to be adjusted within certain limits. The operator simply pushes the seeder, observing and checking its function and maintaining a constant distance between rows. Like the wheel-hoe, it is designed for operating on already well prepared land in intensive farming systems.
There is greater scope for further development of implements and simple machines for field work than there is for improvement of simple hand-tools, but such development must be viewed as a complex approach, which includes many inputs. For example, replacement of hand seed broadcasting by hand-seed drilling will increase production only if other inputs are provided. If fields are not sufficiently levelled, use of the "improved" drill could even result in lower production.
Most simple machines for field work are derived from larger machines designed for animal traction or tractors. For example, a one-row seed drill can be a single element from a multi-row machine. This tends to facilitate development, testing and tool evaluation. Simple machines for stationary applications Threshing, grain dehulling/grinding and oil extracting are very tedious operations, normally carried out in developing countries by women.
These traditional operations often result in food losses due to incomplete threshing, etc. Consequently, much effort has been devoted to improving post harvest processes. The grinding of grain in West Africa is an example. Normally, very fine flour from dehulled grain is preferred. The traditional process consists in pounding the grain in a wooden mortar to dehull it, separating the hulls from the grain, and finally grinding the grain by pounding it into flour. Very frequently, the grain has a high-moisture content before it is ground.
Hand-operated machines exist for both dehulling and grinding, and many have been tested for West African "wet grinding". Nevertheless, this technology has not been adopted, for the unexpected but perfectly logical reason that the ancient African wooden mortar is more energy efficient than modern hand-mills. A group of women in Mali, given a choice of using the hand-operated mills or paying fees to use a diesel-powered mill, picked the diesel option. Their second choice was the traditional mortar.
This was, of course, an exceptional situation. In contrast, small hand-mills for grinding roasted peanuts are very energy efficient and relatively cheap, and are consequently very popular in West Africa.
As this brief overview of hand-tools and hand-powered implements demonstrates, the development approach to human-powered agricultural technology must be seen in its complexity, incorporating both the most efficient application of human power as well as additional sources of external energy inputs - whether improved seeds, fertilizers or agricultural chemicals. The social context must also be taken into account. Finally, the possibility of employing additional mechanical energy inputs - such as those produced by draft animals or even tractors - should be considered for some of the most demanding field operations.
All of the strands of the web are interlinked, and must work together.
From the eighteenth floor of one of Kuala Lumpur's high-rise
hotels on a muggy winter's morning last year, the entire city was covered in a
smoky haze. Except for the tops of the taller buildings, you could see almost
nothing own below. Asked if this was some local weather oddity caused by the
city's location between the central hills and the flat, humid western Malaysian
coastal plain, a reception clerk replied:
"Not at all. This haze comes from Indonesia, not Malaysia".
"From the great forest fires in eastern Kalimantan. When these great fires break out, we get this haze".
"Must be bad news for the Indonesians".
"Bad news for everybody, for us Malaysians, for the whole of the East, for the world".
Though no forester, the reception clerk had a point. For foresters and environmenalists everywhere have long maintained that the world has two great, green mother lungs, one in the West and another in the East. Should either be destroyed, globe ecology will be badly, perhaps irreparably damaged. Should both go, scientists insist, our already wounded planet might suffer environmental hurt beyond healing.
The great Western lung lies within the rainy heart of the vast Amazon Basin, an area larger than China. Amazonia covers about two-thirds of Brazil, the world's fifth largest nation, and pushes leafy and riverine fingers deep into another nine of South America's 13 countries. Though perhaps not yet beyond hope, Amazonia is an ecologically wounded land, its delicate life systems mercilessly raped by the avarice, ignorance and indifference to the future of both greedy and needy men.
But, aside from the massive fires, how goes it with the second, or Eastern, area mother lung that runs like a broad belt of green through the major islands of Indonesia (at 6 000 kilometres east to west, with its 13 670 islands, the world's longest-largest archipelago)? l If far from perfect, things look somewhat more hopeful in this second great green lung. Of course, problems abound. Greed and shortsightedness are in plentiful supply. Yet there is a marked difference between the Indonesian and Amazonian situations: the Indonesian government is at least starting to make an effort to do something before it is too late. Though many critics disagree - the country's two main non-government environmental coalitions, Walhi and Skephi, charge that the government's development philosophy is biased, in favor of industry l and against the interests of local people - Indonesia ' may now have the most professional long-term forestry plan in Southeast Asia. Of course, having any plan at all would be a significant achievement, for the importance to Indonesia of its forests can hardly be exaggerated. Sales of timber and other forest products are, after oil, the country's biggest earner of needed foreign exchange, bringing in ; more than US$3 billion a year, a figure sure to go up l as the rest of the tropical world continues to destroy its natural tree cover. Rational forestry planning, in fact, tends to be the exception for members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), most of whose policies are hardly models of far-sighted thinking. l Thirty years ago, for instance, the Philippines had 17 million hectares of standing tropical forest. Today it has only 6.1 million and even this inadequate remainder is going down as fast as fire, axe and chainsaw allow. In Thailand the once vast forests of teak, rosewood and other highly-valuable tropical hardwoods are now mostly memory. In Malaysia the situation, thanks to a more active conservation policy, seems better. But even there controversy rages both inside and outside government circles over serious forestry and environmental abuses, making it difficult to define how healthy, or unhealthy, Malaysian forestry really is.
A killer fire Malaysia, through its two huge, timber-rich states of Sabah and Sarawak, shares the island of Borneo with Indonesia, and thus is also menaced by the killer fires of Kalimantan. The memory of the gigantic Kalimantan fire of 19B3 haunts both countries. In that fire, Indonesia lost three million hectares, an area of prime tropical forests as large as Holland. A conservative estimate of the monetary loss, figured at only US$10 000 per hectare, comes to US$10 billion, minimum. No nation, East or West, North or South, rich or poor, can afford that kind of forest catastrophe, to say nothing of the local, Asian and world environment. The blame for the periodic Kalimantan fires lies as much with nature as with man. Kalimantan is a vast place, sparsely inhabited except along the coasts, and its primeval woods and jungles are among the last of the world's great tropical rain forests. Yet, like parts of Amazonia, it often suffers from dust-dry drought. With drought comes danger.
A single spark from a farmer's field, from the briefest bolt of summer lightning, from the itinerant migratory bands of slash-and burn agriculture practitioners, whether primitive local tribespeople or economic refugees from jammed-to-bursting Java - any of these can set off a calamity. In an area as huge and as little developed as Kalimantan, the whole of the Indonesian army could not adequately patrol the entirety of its deep and brooding forests.
The government's own drive to take more people from acutely overcrowded Java and place them on virgin stretches of the "outer islands" (see "Troubles of transmigration", p. 38) itself contributes to the periodicity of the killer fires. "The world's farmers past and present have always used fire as a l tool, both for opening up agricultural areas and for enriching them", said an environment specialist from the Ministry of Forestry.
"Where bulldozers and other forest-clearing equipment are not available, fire is the easiest and fastest way to open an area for cultivation. It is easy to say, 'well, why not evict these forest destroying farmers? But they too are citizens and they too must eat.
"Their periodic and repeated burning-off of stubble, stumps, weeds, grasses and other unwanted inhibiting material allows the farmer to plow the phosphorus-rich ashes into the soil, thus fertilizing it. Yet, as Prometheus discovered, fire, though indispensable to man, is difficult - sometimes utterly impossible - to control. Fire of whatever nature, even a matchstick, is potentially both a liberator and a destroyer. Mankind has never completely mastered fire. Perhaps we never will". Change in thinking Until the great fire of 1983, Indonesia had more or less the same sort of "chop now, worry later" attitude as the Philippines and Thailand. Aside from the blaze, what made Indonesia change its thinking? "We finally woke up and got ourselves an intelligent forestry plan", Minister of Forestry Hasjrul Harahap, an energetic and candid Sumatran, said at a meeting in Jakarta. Harahap, with State Minister for Population and Environment Dr Emil Salim, has been among the major influences in giving forestry and the environment greater priority on the national agenda. "Our forests are simply too important to take for granted any more", Harahap said. "They do not, after all, manage themselves. Men must see to that". He admitted that Indonesia had made "too many mistakes in the management, or mismanagement, of our forestry sector", and needed a long-term "master plan". But where to get it? Among its many problems, Indonesia is woefully short of trained forestry personnel at practically all levels. Though the Ministry of Forestry employs some 41 000 people, only 4 225 hold university degrees, just 2 575 of them in forestry proper, and most of these are young men and women with little experience, especially field experience.
After much discussion and sometimes heated debate, the government decided to call on the World Bank for help. The bank agreed to loan US$34 million to finance five badly-needed projects: (1) a forest inventory, the country's first since colonial times; (2) forestry research, until recently all but non-existent in Indonesia; (3) conservation of the Wonogiri Watershed; (4) a project for existing and planned national parks and, (5) a "forestry studies" 8 project to, among other things, draw up the all-important master $ plan. The latter project was assigned to the FAO. "The first thing we had to do was find out just how much of Indonesia is still truly forest", said the FAO's Dr C. Chandrasekharan, appointed team leader of the multinational project staff. "The figures everyone inside and outside Indonesia had been quoting for the country's forest cover dated from the last years of the old Dutch regime. It seemed pretty obvious things would have changed since then". Changed indeed. After two years of study, the FAO team revised downward the standard figure of 144 million hectares of forest lands to 107 479 000 for the entire country, with only 39 275 300 ha of true production forests. Other forests with production "potential" came to 18 115 200 ha, tidal forests to 2 149 400, nature reserves and conservation areas to 14 421 800, and all other wooded areas, including protected forests, totalling 33517300ha.
Jolted by figures Initial publication of these figures jolted the Indonesians. No one had expected a drop of anything like that magnitude. Eyebrows went up. Some officials got angry. Yet the team's conclusions are hard to dispute. The foresters carrying out the project, employing the latest computer technology, surveyed all of the available forestry literature, in several languages, as well as the cutting and loss estimates from every region of the country. More than 3 000 books old and new on Indonesian forests were fed into the computers, plus that many again studies and local surveys. Nothing like it had ever been done before in Indonesia. In fact, it has been done in few countries, rich or poor. Since beginning its work in 1988, the FAO team has turned up quite a few forestry facts, some pleasing, others less so, (but all hard to debate on other than emotional grounds) that were "news" to the Indonesians. For example:
during the early 1960s, Indonesian timber production was confined mostly to teak on Java and a limited number of valuable species in the more accessible natural forests of the outer islands. Since then forestry activities have moved out of Java almost entirely, to the outer islands;
annual log production has increased during the same period from below two million cubic metres to 36 million m³, probably the biggest increase registered in any tropical nation. Fully 97 to 98 per cent of the logs come from the natural forests of the outer islands;
there has been an enormous increase in the number of wood-processing units, especially sawmills and plywood mills, and in the volume of manufactured wood products;
as the national population swelled from 97 million in 1961 to 165 million in 1985 and an estimated 185 million in 1991, this along with the rise in income has led to an enormous increase of wood product sales and production within Indonesia itself. Seventy per cent of the sawn wood and 14.5 per cent of wood-based panels are now consumed domestically;
between 1961 and 1987, domestic sawn timber consumption per 100 inhabitants increased from 18 m³ a year to 38.2; panel products from 0.1 metres to 7.3; paper and paperboard from 0.6 kilograms to 4.6. Total consumption of fuelwood for cooking and heating in 1987 stood at l l 5 m³, a figure bound to grow as the population inexorably zooms upward;
trade in forest products during the years 1961 to 1988 increased several fold. Exports for 1988 amounted to 5.25 million m³ Of plywood and 2.8 million of sawn wood. In 1988, export earnings from forest products for the first time topped US$ 3 billion;
overall employment in the forestry sector in 1988 was 300 000 people and growing. This does not include those employed in collecting and processing non-wood forest products such as rattan;
thanks to the vastness of its immense, if diminishing, natural forests in Kalimantan, Irian Jaya, Sumatra and Sulawesi, the great green mother lung now enjoys a "clear comparative advantage in tropical hardwood production and trade in tropical hardwood products".
Commenting on the latter point, Chandrasekharan added: "Indonesia now has no real competitors. It has captured the number one spot in the world market for tropical forest products". Of the team's findings, only one has been seriously contested. Its report estimates annual forest losses at 900 000 ha - easily the highest in Asia, or anywhere outside Amazonia - and potentially ruinous to Indonesia's "green gold mine". The Ministry of Forestry maintains, with some heat, that this is a major exaggeration. National annual loss of forests is closer to 600 000 ha, its spokesmen insist. But they concede that even this figure is higher than anybody else's and is menacingly wasteful. The FAO team's rebuttal is simple: if you accept all of the report's other conclusions and the evidence on which they rest, how can you deny this single conclusion - unflattering though it may be - that derives from the same body of evidence? Though a clear difference of opinion, it is treated as a "gentleman's disagreement" and has not hampered cooperation. The basic plan stands and is being carried out with minimal friction between national government and international body.
For whose benefit? That is precisely the problem, charge many conservationists and non governmental organizations (NGOs), both inside and outside the country. The plan, they insist, is a cosy agreement between government and international experts, who are not attuned to the interests of ordinary people. The NGOs especially, powerful because they represent nationwide groups with considerable political clout, challenge the plan at its most basic level, asking "for whose benefit is it designed?" Is it for the forest industry in particular, most of which is controlled by a handful of multi-millionaires? Or is it for some vague and loosely defined goal of national development whose abstract beneficiaries are all but impossible to identify? Or is it, as the NGOs demand it should be, for the people - especially the people of the areas from which the timber is being extracted? "So far we have gotten no real answers, just governmental gobbledygook", said an NGO official from Jakarta, on a trip to northern Sumatra with other NGO leaders. They had come there to protest the establishment of the country's newest, largest and most modern pulp and paper mill.
To say that such persistent protests, increasingly vociferous and ever-more public, irritate the Ministry of Forestry is an understatement. More than one ranking ministry official has lost his temper trying to "dialogue" with aggressive and insistent NGO representatives. Among other criticisms, the NGOs maintain that the national plan still allows too much cutting and does not make sufficient replanting mandatory. They'd like the plan to concentrate more on upgrading the living standards and welfare of Indonesia's rural millions in general, and its forest dwellers in particular. They further complain that the plan is weak in forest fire protection, as damaging to the nation's agriculture as to its forests, and that not enough is being done to train local populations in how best to protect and benefit from their own community forest resources. Yet another generalized complaint, one that strikes an emotional nerve from Sumatra to Kalimantan to Sulawesi to Irian Jaya and all the myriad islands in between, is the allegation that the national forest industries are mainly engaged "in further draining the resources of the outer islands into Java". "Java produces the bulk of our politicians", a disgruntled NGO local chief said. "Java comes in first, second and third place in all our so-called national endeavors, and the rest of us do well to make fourth, fifth or sixth place. It is not fair". Some of the plan's critics go so far as to call it just another example of the "internal colonialism" they claim is now one of the major menaces facing a majority of the peoples of the Third World. In fairness, however, it should be pointed out that despite its relatively small size, well below 10 per cent of the national territory, Java houses about 110 million of Indonesia's approximately 185 million people. Java is still the country's bread-basket, and without its crops the inhabitants of the outer islands might be hard-pressed to find themselves a meal. Finally, the more internationally-minded and sophisticated of the plan's critics question the whole theory of development as expounded by the World Bank, the United Nations specialized agencies, and the increasingly interlocked interests of global business. "This is a Western banker's view of development", said one especially articulate, if irate, critic, "and a nine teenth-century view at that. The bankers and their short sighted supporters believe that money is the measure of all things. They believe that big bucks alone, if thrown around enough, will put everything right. This is the old, discredited 'trickle-down' theory, thinly disguised under an afterthought of half-baked 'green' rhetoric. Our governments, or the handful of families that run them, blindly follow the bankers' lead, partly because they have no ideas of their own and partly out of personal greed. However you cut it, under this development strategy, the people lose".
A healthy sign Despite such harsh, perhaps overly extreme criticism, the mere fact that a plan has been put in place and national debate over it is ongoing is a healthy sign. Since 1967, when the government began encouraging private investment in developing the nation's forests, the number of forest concessions has gone up every year. There are now 562 private forest concessions, a few of them covering from half a million to a million hectares, totalling 60 million ha and distributed over 18 of Indonesia's 27 provinces. State enterprises, or the "public sector", hold only 2.3 million ha of forest lands, less than four per cent of the national total. "Some of these concessions are extremely well-run", Chandrasekharan said. "But too many are also poorly managed and cause a lot of unnecessary waste. And too few do enough replanting in either quantity or quality. "There are still many problems to be settled between the government and the concessionaires. How long a lease should they be given? How does performance compare with monetary gain? And perhaps above all, how does the economic health, or lack of it, mesh with the overall economic performance of the country? Like the debates over the plan itself, these are important questions not yet fully answered. "But at least Indonesia has made a good start. Few tropical nations, in Asia or elsewhere, can make that boast". The assessment is unquestionably a hopeful one. Yet, no matter how much more professional or realistic the thinking of Indonesian forestry policy has become, one has only to experience the haze over neighboring Kuala Lumpur to wonder about the future. Until the fires in the Eastern mother lung can be contained with some degree of certainty, environmentalists and foresters throughout the East, indeed the world, must continue to tremble.
It's been nearly a century since Indonesia embarked on what may be one of the most ambitious experiments in organized human migration the world has ever known, an undertaking whose historical importance puts it on the same level - in terms of both opportunities for growth and potential for disaster - as the Homestead Movement that opened the American West, or Brazil's attempts to settle the Amazon.
Transmigration - the relocation of thousands of families to planned settlements in the sparsely populated outer islands of the archipelago - has been a prominent feature of Indonesia's development since 1905, when the country was still under colonial rule. Conceived by the Dutch as a way of creating a labor pool for plantations in Sumatra, the program has served succeeding governments in many different ways.
But in the past 10 years it has run afoul of powerful environmental and human rights lobbies. Major international development agencies like the World Bank, chastened by criticism of their involvement, have frozen financing for new projects. Development workers are left asking what will happen to the thousands of people struggling to carve out an existence in remote settlements.
Fifth largest population
Indonesia's population of close to 185 million makes it the fifth largest nation on earth. Yet roughly 100 million of its people live on only seven per cent of the archipelago's land, resulting in a population density of 800 per sq km in Java.
Since independence, transmigration has been a key instrument of nation-building. In the 1950s, President Sukarno called for the resettlement of 1.5 million people a year, saying it was "a matter of life and death for the Indonesian nation". Although the program never came close to realizing such targets, it served other purposes just as important to the new nation's security. In the 1960s, under the slogan "One Unity of Security and Defence", settlements were strategically located close to the frontiers of neighboring countries in west and north Sumatra, north Kalimantan, north Sulawesi and east Irian Jaya. Most of the settlers were Javanese, and in some remote provinces they outnumbered natives. This so-called "Javanization" of local populations was seen by some as an attempt by the central government to suppress opposition in outlying areas.
Nowadays, however, most transmigrants are young families from the large population of poor, landless farm laborers in the countryside. They see the program as a chance to improve their lives, the possibility of owning their own land being a powerful enticement. For many years the number of applicants has far exceeded program quotas.
Once they make the decision to join, families have no control over where they will be sent. Each is given transportation to a homestead site, three hectares of land to farm, a small house and a 12-month supply of food, tools, seed and fertilizer. Support is withdrawn gradually, and at the end of five years settlements are supposed to be self-sustaining. They are then handed over to the provincial government as local villages.
Until the late 1970s the program's impact on the vast outer islands of the archipelago remained relatively light, involving a total of fewer than 1.3 million transmigrants. This changed dramatically with the appearance of the World Bank on the scene in 1976. The bank became the major source of international assistance, supplying both technical expertise and loans. In addition to providing more than US$ 635 million since 1976, the bank has even managed a number of settlements, intended as models, from the planning stages through to the housing of settlers.
In the eight years between 1979 and 1986 an estimated 4.5 million people were resettled. At its peak in the mid-1980s, transmigration was responsible for moving three-quarters of a million people a year from the overcrowded islands of Java, Bali, Madura and Lombok to new settlements in the sparsely inhabited outer islands of Sumatra, Sulawesi, Kalimantan and Irian Jaya.
A bete noire
But the exodus soon outpaced the government's ability to effectively manage it. In the mid-1980s, transmigration became the bete noire of powerful international human rights and environmental lobbies such as Friends of the Earth and Survival International, which charged that settlers were responsible for widespread deforestation, soil erosion, the displacement of native people and destruction of their indigenous cultures. Critics argued that the program went against the bank's own stated policy of endeavoring "to ensure that each project affecting renewable natural resources does not exceed the regenerative capacities of the environment" and not financing "projects that cause severe or irreversible environmental deterioration including species without mitigatory measures acceptable to the bank".
Soon embarrassing questions were being asked in the legislative assemblies of those Western countries which are the principal backers of the World Bank. Was the bank "financing ecological disaster" as the 1988 Friends of the Earth report claimed? Quietly Western governments began withdrawing support for further settlements. Routine applications for project loans became bogged down in technical discussions and endless consultants' reports.
In fact, some of the criticisms were either exaggerated or simply untrue. For example, it was claimed that transmigration was a principal agent of tropical forest degradation in the outer islands. But detailed mapping of the archipelago and its resources has shown that in almost all provinces land allocated to sponsored transmigration amounts to less than one per cent of the total forest area.
International condemnation has tended to focus on Irian Jaya at the extreme east end of the archipelago. Critics have focused on the Javanization of the territory, whose local people have strong ethnic links with neighboring Papua New Guinea. But, while Irian Jaya possesses the largest tract of undeveloped flat land in all of Indonesia, transmigration sites occupy only two per cent of cleared land and have received less than 125 000 settlers.
The facts were wrong
"While some of the criticisms had an element of truth in them, the majority were exaggerated. The facts as reported were wrong", said one consultant. But "it made the World Bank very nervous, and I think we're still feeling the reverberations of that attack. It's harder to get money for transmigration out of most agencies now. The Asian Development Bank, European Economic Community, even the British government, who have been part of the program since 1980, even they have got cold feet and cut back their program. They won't admit it - that it's because of transmigration's bad international press - but unofficially they would agree. It's a bit like a courtroom where an objection is sustained but the damage is done".
Badgered by critics, the government of Indonesia did a poor job of defending its program. Part of the problem, officials admit, is that the government itself did not have a very clear picture of what was going on during the peak period of resettlement. Many of the sites are located in remote areas, reachable only by boat, plane or helicopter. When settlers were being sent out at a rate of 100 000 a month, there were simply not the human resources to monitor all the activity.
To make matters worse, many of the settlers during this period were not even part of the official program. Many so-called spontaneous transmigrants, or "spontans", received little or no state support. They could choose their own destination and, because they migrated and established homesteads without help or guidance, the planning of settlements was thrown into chaos.
About 30 per cent of settlers between 1969 and 1974 were spontans. By the mid- 1980s, two out of three families were moving under their own initiative. It had been one of the objectives of the organizers to encourage people to make the move without state support, but having started the ball rolling, the question became: "How do we get it stopped?"
Nowhere are the problems of spontaneous transmigration more apparent than in Lampung Province of south Sumatra, where more than two million spontans have settled since 1971. There the Pandang-Sugihan Wildlife Reserve was designated a protected area in 1983 to save a herd of 200 elephants. The management plan called for the canal entrances to the reserve to be closed off to stop illegal logging by spontans. But the plan was never implemented. Boats full of spontans are still entering to systematically remove all the usable timber. In the process they are damaging the habitat to the extent that elephants are increasingly invading the neighboring Air Sugihan transmigration settlement.
The budget slashed
Another blow came when world oil prices plummeted from US$28 a barrel in 1983 to US$9.83 in 1986, cutting deeply into government revenues. The Ministry of Transmigration saw its budget slashed 44 per cent in 1986 and another 54 per cent in 1987, further crippling its ability to monitor new sites and provide adequate extension support.
Meanwhile, there was mounting evidence of problems within existing settlements. Some were completely cut off because roads built to dry season standards had washed out in the first rains. Settlers were unable to get their produce to markets or to obtain new supplies. Other sites had not had proper soil testing done. Settlers arrived to find the land sterile or the water unfit to drink. In some areas local people had not been fairly compensated for land taken to build settlements. Quarrels erupted along ethnic lines as locals rejected the Javanization of their provinces.
In 1987, the government, under pressure from all sides including its major ally the World Bank, brought a virtual halt to new settlement and undertook a survey of some 183 sites which were known to be experiencing difficulties. The team of international consultants found some 40 settlements in a state of crisis and recommended urgent attention. Their 1989 report is a frank account of the settlers' problems.
"Isolation and hopelessness"
"...site management and agricultural extension service generally lack the necessary skills and experience to perform their tasks satisfactorily. This initial problem seems to be compounded by a lack of financial and technical support. Low salaries, lack of adequate transport, equipment, operating budgets, demonstration and training material, etc. seem to instil a feeling of isolation and hopelessness....
"The availability of farm inputs constitutes a serious problem in most sites. The quality and quantity of the required inputs as well as the timing of their availability are far from optimum.
"...many transmigrants arrive on site with an incorrect impression regarding entitlements and prospects, e.g. that they are to receive one hectare of sawah land (irrigated rice field). This erroneous expectation results from a mixture of misinformation and misunderstanding which started and/or was reinforced during recruitment in the home village. The combined effect of negative influence and unbounded hopes in part reflects the relatively high rates of desertion and offfarm employment".
Other problems included poor roads, inadequate health and education services, insufficient bank credit and overly abundant crop pests ranging from wild pigs and rats to monkeys and elephants. But the most explosive finding was that soil fertility was too low in most areas to support anything but subsistence agriculture, calling into doubt the basic viability of the crop-based farming model upon which the entire transmigration edifice had been built.
The survey discovered that only about half of a site's development potential was being harnessed. Settlers were having such a hard time growing subsistence crops on the hectare of land around their houses that they had been unable to tackle their other two hectares. Settlements stagnated as time after time the food crop model broke down.
Until this century, vast areas of the archipelago had very small native populations. The steep volcanic hillsides and swampy lowlands make agriculture difficult. In the late 1980s the British government funded a major study of the country's resources. The study showed there was good reason why these areas did not support large human populations in the past - that vast areas of the archipelago are simply not suitable for cultivation.
The food crop model rested on the flawed assumption that soils in these outer islands were suitable for crop-raising.
In their recent study "Towards a New Home", Karl Fasbender and Susanne Ese predict that many transmigrants whose settlements are located in areas of poor soils will be forced to resort to shifting cultivation, a form of agriculture that damages the environment when practised intensively.
Consultants had concluded as early as 1986 that "...the cleared one hectare allocation may just provide basic subsistence but will never provide the capital needed to develop further". Over at the World Bank, officials were beginning to doubt the expert advice they were getting. "One of the basic problems of the old projects", one official confided, "was that there was some dream that you could get people to go in, and they would raise food crops and be self-sufficient farmers and happy peasants. Frankly, none of us in the world want to be happy peasants except those of us in the West who have enough money to retire to the country and be a happy peasant".
A fundamental shift
The consultants have now proposed a fundamental shift away from food crop farming and toward a nucleus estate model based on tree crops such as coconut, rubber and oil palm. The settlement would become a large plantation, and individual farmers would produce a cash crop which would be marketed by a centralized management authority. Three years ago, the Ministry of Transmigration asked the World Bank for US$150 million to implement the new plan' celled Second Stage Development, in settlements where crop farming has failed. Funding has yet to be approved.
When asked about the Second Stage Development Plan, one World Bank official said it is still just a proposal. "We did a partial appraisal two years ago. We did a follow-up appraisal one-and-a-half years ago. And there's talk now that maybe we'll do another appraisal this spring".
Since 1987, new transmigration has virtually come to a halt as planners try to grapple with past mistakes and convince international donor agencies that new methods such as tree farming can work. What seems certain is that, with or without a state-sponsored program and regardless of world opinion, the flow of people toward the rural regions of the outer islands will continue and even increase.
Where heavy metals are concerned the best cure is
by Winfried E.H. Blum
Our civilization's excessive use of fossil fuels and other raw materials mined from deep within the earth has broken a natural equilibrium that lasted for millions of years, and raised the threat of global pollution of soils and even entire ecosystems by heavy metals. The danger the world now faces cannot be overemphasized. Once contaminated, many soils will not be usable to produce food or fodder for generations to come.
The problem is so enormous that it can only be tackled through international cooperation. The present state of soil pollution must be assessed worldwide and its causes and impacts analysed. Ongoing pollution must be supervised and monitored. Heavy metal emissions must be reduced or prevented - and contaminated soils treated to the limited extent possible with present technology.
We are faced with a true emergency.
It is important to understand how this situation arose.
For millions of years, rocks at the earth's surface were the only source from which heavy metals were released into the soil. This happened largely through weathering by rain, wind and other processes. Organisms and plant roots transferred the metals from the soil to the above-ground biomass of terrestrial and partially aquatic ecosystems. From there, the elements were recycled back to the soil through the food chain or other turnover processes. Having evolved in this setting, organisms living on the base of the biomass, including people, were genetically adapted to the natural heavy metal concentrations through the steady state equilibriums between uptake and recycling.
This natural cycle was severely disturbed in the last half of the 19th century when heavy metals bound in fossil energy, such as coal, and non-renewable raw materials, such as mining ores, were extracted in increasing amounts from deep and inert positions of the inner earth and distributed on the land surface directly or following processing. The situation worsened dramatically when consumption of raw materials and fossil energy, including oil and gas, began skyrocketing in the 20th century, especially since the 1950s. If this continues, the inevitable result will be global pollution of most terrestrial ecosystems and soils by heavy metals - deposited from the atmosphere, through local contamination of the water cycle, from the dumping of waste and sewage sludge, from contaminated manure and from the use of fertilizers, phytosanitary and other products in agriculture and forestry.
Because soils act as a final repository for heavy metals - and this is a non-reversible process - it seems only a matter of time until protective soil functions, such as filter and buffer capacities, are overcharged and heavy metals are released into the soil solution. From there, they will be taken up by soil organisms and plant roots and leached into the groundwater. The result will be poisoning of soil organisms, pollution of the food chain and deterioration of groundwater quality.
Defining heavy metals
Heavy metals are usually defined as metals with densities larger than five grams per cubic centimetre. This group comprises about 70 elements, including the familiar lead, silver and mercury, but only some 20 species are important to ecology. They are essential micronutrients for animals and plants but can also be toxic, and both toxicity and necessity vary greatly from metal to metal and from organism to organism. (For example, Figure page 44 shows the wide range of effects between predominant growth promotion or growth inhibition of plants by four different heavy metals.)
Moreover, positive or negative (toxic) effects depend not only on the type of element and its reactive concentration but also on the genetically based physiological behavior of different organisms. This has to be taken into account when considering problems caused by heavy metals in soils and terrestrial ecosystems.
The content of heavy metals in soils derives from natural sources as well as from anthropogenic (man-made) pollution.
The natural contents vary widely and can be very high in soils that developed on special rock forms. Other natural sources are forest fires, soil transport and deposition by wind, water and volcanic eruptions.
Anthropogenic heavy metal pollution of soils happens along three general pathways: the air, the water cycle and mechanical transport.
Global and regional atmospheric pollution is caused by emissions from industry, traffic, power stations, waste and refuse incineration and is more difficult to monitor and control than pollution in the water cycle and through mechanical transport. The amount of heavy metals deposited in the soil, both locally and regionally, depends on how far the soil is from the emission source and the type of its vegetation cover. Wooded areas receive two to five times larger depositions than agricultural ones, because forests filter solid and gaseous emissions and aerosols. Man-made acidification of forest soils also leads to increased mobility of heavy metals, through leaching into the soil solution. This is not as serious in agricultural soils, which have generally higher pH values and benefit from liming, as well as applications of fertilizer and manure.
Industry and agriculture
Specific and locally controlled depositions of heavy metals are caused by industrial and other contaminated effluents as well as by dumping or recycling of refuse and sewage sludge from industry, urban utilities and other sources. The high quantity of heavy metals used in industrial processes is the most important source of heavy metal contamination of soils. In agricultural land use, the worst offenders are sewage sludge, phosphate fertilizers and contaminated manure, but plant protection products may also contribute. Because the most severe pollution by heavy metals is usually caused by contaminated refuse material, especially sewage sludge, many countries now ban their spreading on agricultural land.
Fertilizers produced from rock phosphates contain on average five to 40 parts per million of cadmium. Therefore, the average annual input of cadmium in agricultural soils amounts to two to six grams per hectare. Special P-fertilizers like Thomas phosphate contain nearly no cadmium, but large amounts of vanadium and chromium.
Pig manure is usually contaminated by copper and zinc from copper supplements to improve food conversion. Application of liquid pig manure can cause severe soil pollution in 20 to 30 years, especially in areas with high livestock densities.
Heavy metal pollution by plant protection products is decreasing because organic products are replacing most of the inorganic pesticides like cadmium-containing bordeaux mixtures (a fungicide made by reaction of copper, sulphate, lime and water) and Pb-arsenides.
Reactions in soils
The binding capacity of soils for heavy metals in general is very high. The heavy metal reactions in soils include mechanical, biological and physicochemical processes between pollutants and the solid and liquid phases of the soil. These processes are extremely complex because soils consist of heterogeneous mixtures of solid organic and inorganic constituents, such as humic substances, clay minerals, oxides of aluminum, iron and manganese as well as soluble components. Soils also vary considerably in pH and redox (oxidation reduction) conditions, which have a major effect on the reaction process. Therefore, a metal may form different species with specific soil components, depending on the type of bonds and the bonding energy.
Within the main functional parameters and reaction processes of heavy metals in soils, the three processes work this way:
mechanical filtration of liquid and solid heavy metal compounds in the porous space of the soil;
uptake of heavy metals by soil organisms, especially plant roots and microorganisms, as a process of biological binding. Uptake occurs from the liquid phase and depends on the quantity and quality of the soil biomass as well as on soil pH, redox and other parameters;
most importantly, the physico-chemical processes of: adsorption and desorption by ion-exchange at the surface of humic substances, clay minerals or oxides of iron, aluminum, manganese and others;
complexation by humic substances (strong complex bonds);
occlusion in oxides of iron, aluminum, manganese and others, mainly through co-precipitation;
structural binding in clay minerals and oxides through diffusion of heavy metals into the crystal structure;
precipitation and dissolution of defined compounds, such as carbonates, phosphates and sulphites.
A program of action
Action to save the soil has to start with an assessment of the actual state of pollution and an analysis of its causes and impacts. The assessment should systematically cover the total surface of entire states or regions, using methods that will later allow data to be compared. The need to standardize methods is urgent because, even where efforts have been made to assess the situation at regional, national and international levels, generally accepted, comprehensive concepts are lacking.
There are both direct and indirect approaches to the analysis of soil pollution. The direct approach is the chemical analysis of heavy metals in the soil. Indirect approaches are input-output analyses or analyses of the impacts of soil contamination on soil organisms, plants or groundwater. These give indications but no data on the exact concentration of heavy metals in the soil at a given time.
The causes of soil pollution can be determined, or at least assessed, by spatial evaluation (vertical and horizontal) of pollution data and sources of pollution. By establishing a network of permanent sampling plots, pollution could be monitored continuously by repeated soil analysis and comparison of results.
Additional data are needed to assess contamination risks, especially physical data on the texture, structure, water absorption capacity of the soil and biological and climatic information. Time series of chemical analyses from permanent sampling networks will make it possible to assess future impacts.
The analytical data, especially when based on time series, allow the supervision, monitoring and prediction of pollution and impacts.
Supervision and monitoring, the second part of a program of action, are urgently needed to convince public officials, decision-makers and politicians to enact laws and regulations to reduce heavy metal emissions. It will take international cooperation to harmonize methods, exchange data and define common threshold values.
Preventive action, the third part of the program, should focus on reducing or preventing heavy metal emissions, especially from sources of widespread, diffuse contamination on an international scale. National measures should be enforced to reduce or ban specific and locally controlled pollution in the water cycle or spread through mechanical transport. Because heavy metal pollution is not reversible by present methods, the only way to prevent it is to reduce or eliminate heavy metals at the source. An outstanding example is given by Sweden, which has prohibited the use of cadmium, replacing the element by other less polluting products.
Treatment options limited
Possibilities for treating contaminated soils, the fourth and final part of the program, are still very limited, and the treatments are extremely expensive. Large-scale decontamination is not presently feasible because of the intensive binding of heavy metals in soils and expense involved. Only two practical alternatives exist:
dilution of heavily contaminated soils by mixing them with non-contaminated matter that has high sorption capacity, such as oxides and clays. Mixing with organic matter is less efficient because of its biodegradability; adjustment of the soil pH and of the redox conditions. This can be done by liming or aeration in the case of low redox potentials. The heavy metal concentration remains the same, but the binding capacity is increased and the mobility of the heavy metals in the soil is reduced.
Such newly developed methods as extracting heavy metals through plant species with high root uptake capacity are not yet sufficiently cleared or are not applicable under all conditions.
Prevention remains the best cure - and the sooner the better if we want to preserve the capacity to feed the burgeoning population of the 21 st century.
Non-traditional crops have yielded an unlooked-for bonus in
by Frank Long
For decades, developing countries trying to spark economic expansion have pinned their hopes and aspirations on industrial development, especially manufacturing. The "bad old days" of being tied to the bouncing ball of the world market for a single agricultural commodity, like sugar or coffee, were a nightmare. Continuing to depend on farming seemed backward, pan of an economic past that the developing world wanted to escape.
But Belize has turned this conventional wisdom on its head. In the five years from 1984 to 1989, when falling sugar prices threatened to weaken what had been the backbone of the economy, the tiny Central American country's growth was unprecedented - averaging seven per cent per year. It wasn't due to humming factories or production lines, but in large pan to sales of two non-traditional agricultural crops: bananas and citrus fruit.
Others, struggling to escape single-crop dependency, should consider Belize's experience.
Neglect of agriculture
The farm sector's role in development is a favorite focus of debate. While agriculture is admittedly a source not only of food, but also of employment, earned income, foreign exchange and savings for capital accumulation, the emphasis since the Second World War has increasingly been on manufacturing as the engine of growth. Initial efforts at industrialization for import substitution in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa reflected the trend. The current thrust in export-led growth repeats this bias, since Export Processing Zones in developing countries tend to engage mainly in assembly-oriented manufacturing for world trade.
In both cases, special incentives have been offered to firms to stimulate manufacturing investment and speed the pace of economic growth. As pan of the export processing effort, a number of countries have recently begun to emphasize the importance of services. Agriculture has generally been neglected.
Except in Belize. The former British colony, with a population of less than 200 000, became independent in the early 1980s. Its economy had traditionally been dominated by sugar, but was faced with a setback not long after independence when growth began to lag in the face of worldwide recession. The slowdown accentuated in 1982-83, abated slightly in 1984, but still remained substantially below 1980's economic performance. Not only was the world in recession, but the Mexican debt crisis caused a partial collapse of Belize's exeports - near-neighbor Mexico is an important buyer of Belize's goods.
Simultaneously, beginning in 1981, sugar prices started a downward slide. The sugar export price index dropped from 96 in 1981 to 64 in 1983. A decline in the US sugar quota also forced Belize to sell its sugar on the world market, where prices are substantially lower than the guaranteed prices offered in the United States and Europe. This led to a subsequent drop in sugar output, with the main sugar companies cutting back on production. In 1980, sugar had accounted for nearly 60 per cent of the total value of domestic exports - US$48 million. By 1984, it accounted for only US$33 million, or 45 per cent of total exports.
Where overall exports had grown by nearly 50 per cent in 1980, they plunged to minus 8.7 per cent in 1981, minus 19 per cent in 1982 and rose only to nine per cent in 1983. Re-exports were at minus 30 per cent in 1981, and minus 59 per cent by 1983.
This had negative consequences in terms of growth, as well as jobs. Unemployment averaged 14 per cent, running as high as 24 per cent in some districts (Stann Creek). Average female unemployment was estimated at 20 per cent.
In contrast with this disappointing record, the period between 1985-89 saw economic growth in Belize reach the respectable average of seven per cent per year. A significant part of the credit can be traced to the 1985-89 Development Plan's advocacy of increasing the output of non-traditional crops. With sugar's importance declining, other commodities offered better income prospects. Citrus and bananas were singled out because of what looked like favorable market conditions.
In a small, open economy like that of Belize, world trade must be the engine of growth, since the limited domestic market is unable on its own to provide enough stimulus to make development self-sustaining.
Between 1984-89, sugar exports at constant prices stood at US$33 million. At the same time, however, citrus exports rose from US$9.8 million to US$14 million, and bananas from US$3.1 million to an extraordinary US$ 13 million.
The agricultural production index shows sugar output actually declined from one million long tons in 1984 to 777 000 long tons in 1988. The volume index dropped from 100 to 76. The opposite was true of oranges, whose output in the same period rose from 1.1 to 1.3 million boxes. The volume index jumped from 100 to 265. As for bananas, output rose from 555 000 to 1.4 million boxes, and the volume index from 100 to 251.
An indication that the future of citrus and bananas may continue to be an optimistic one was contained in official projections to 1997. These showed sugar exports barely rising above their 1984 level, with citrus rising to US$51 million and bananas to US$73 million. Clearly sugar will remain an important factor, but non-traditional crops are growing in importance.
It would be a mistake, of course, to attribute Belize's recent success solely to these two crops. Manufactured exports, chiefly garments and tourism were also driving forces behind the economic expansion. Tourist receipts, for instance, rose from US$11 million in 1984 to US$26 million in 1988, while garments accounted for nearly US$30 million in 1988. Further fish exports also rose.
Nevertheless, the most spectacular increase for agriculture was that of citrus and bananas.
The key factors affecting the growth of Belize's non-traditional agriculture can be summarized:
Investment concessions - Between 1985-89, 47 investment concessions were granted to agriculture, most for bananas and citrus. Of the total investment under concessions of B$ 82 million, B$41.8 million went to agriculture. Concessions granted to both local and foreign companies for farm investment included tax relief, duty-free concessions of machinery and equipment and the like. More than half of the 2 100 new jobs created by concessions went to agriculture, and most of these to non-traditional agriculture.
Such concessions are offered largely to private business, and the emphasis on non-traditional crops stemmed from the simple fact that most applicants wanted to raise bananas or citrus. Their preference resulted from their anticipation of a guaranteed world market for these crops, as compared to others, by the mid-1980s. The two commodities commanded higher prices in both the US Caribbean Bassin Initiative (CBI) and UK (Lommarkets.
Belize's 1985-89 Development Plan recognized agro-industrial growth as a priority, noting that industrialization was interpreted as "a method of organization of production applicable to all sectors of the economy and particularly for the viability of export industries". It also recognized the importance of a diversified agricultural base in view of the vulnerability associated with undue reliance on one export crop. A developed marketing infrastructure for exports was already in place for citrus and bananas, but not for other non-traditional crops.
Increased acreage - More land was brought into production by private operators. The planted area for bananas, for example, increased from less than 900 acres in 1984 to 2500 acres by 1987. During this period, land under citrus cultivation increased from 12000 to 16 000 acres. At the same time, yields rose from 150 boxes per acre in 1983 to 275 boxes per acre in 1988. Significant jumps in yield were also recorded for bananas.
These yield increases stemmed from improved husbandry practices, especially in the area of pest control. Private farmers tilled more land because the fruits they were raising offered substantial assured market returns. Since Belize is relatively sparsely populated, bringing idle land under cultivation is a relatively cheap and easy matter, provided adequate infrastructure exists.
Privatization initiatives - The nontraditional sector saw several privatization initiatives in the mid-1980s. The Banana Control Board was divested of its commercial holdings. These were taken over by private enterprise, whose heavy investment in planted area included irrigation. Crop losses were thus reduced. The main UK international buying agent, through the board, also offered local producers higher prices. These resulted from a new pricing formula, partly reflecting buoyancy in the UK market, and helped boost domestic supply.
Duty-free access - CBI provisions allowing for duty-free access of Belize's exports to the United States benefited citrus products. The CBI came into effect in the mid-1980s. However, a major crop failure in Florida opened up the US market, which absorbs most of Belize's citrus exports. This was perhaps the chief reason for the rise in citrus exports during the period.
Compared to other non-traditional products - such as vegetables, other fruits and fish - citrus and bananas offered the greatest attraction to private investors. Apart from attractive prices, most exported citrus is processed by two factories into citrus concentrate. Hence there was a ready and organized market for farmers. Bananas also find a ready market once product quality reaches an acceptable standard. This is probably less true of fruits and vegetables. Fishing may also have ready markets, but requires high initial capital outlays, especially for deepwater activity. Trawlers and freezers are more costly than land, which in Belize is abundant.
The export success of non-traditional agriculture has essentially been a case of independent producers reacting intelligently to new market signals. But every success has its downside, and Belize's story is no exception. Several drawbacks should be noted.
First, citrus and banana production has been concentrated among a few large farms. Nearly 70 per cent of the land under citrus cultivation in Belize is located on 26 farms with total acreages of more than 50 acres. Smaller farmers, who are in the majority in Belize, own only 30 per cent of the land, usually the less fertile areas. This uneven distribution of ownership means that, in fact, agricultural growth has brought only limited gains to most farmers, raising fundamental questions of equity.
Working conditions on some large citrus and banana farms also leave much to be desired, especially in respect to migrant workers from neighboring countries. Poor pay, inadequate housing, poor sanitary and health conditions reportedly characterize conditions for many non-unionized migrant workers, and a shortage of local manpower is leading to their increasing use.
Finally, few links have been promoted between non-traditional agriculture and manufacturing - which suggests that great scope exists for increasing domestic value added from local agriculture. This in turn could boost national wealth and employment, while strengthening the country's overall economic structure.
Such lacunae in the 1985-89 experience indicate that agriculture in Belize would have been better served if equity, basic needs and structural issues were boldly incorporated into programs of agricultural change. That they weren't is attributable to the fact that the programs relied largely on market mechanisms for their momentum. The state took a basically "hands off" stance.
Both bananas and citrus have in the past benefited from preferential access to the European and US markets. If continued growth is to be assured, however, building on preferential market access in future will require non-traditional agriculture to increase its international price competitiveness. A recent review of the sector by this author suggests that considerable opportunity exists for increasing farm efficiency for citrus and bananas, particularly in terms of husbandry practices.
Yet another market opening may result from the recent spectacular growth in tourism. Local food production has barely begun to capitalize on this opportunity.
The full potential of non-traditional crops is yet to be tapped.
Pollinator protection: a bee and pesticide hand book, by Carl A. Johansen and Daniel F. Mayer, Wicwas Press, 1991.
When farmers lose live-stock in large numbers to some deadly disease, the emergency is usually reported in the press, and readers sympathize with the loss of years of work in stock selection, and whose livelihood is threatened.
But the same thing happens to beekeepers every year: they too lose their livestock - often as a result of the deadly activities of other farmers. Perhaps it is because of the generally low status of mere insects or the fact that bees are not highly visible livestock that the problem is not more fully appreciated.
Yet, as Johansen and Mayer point out, in a single year in the United States losses due to poisoning of honey bee colonies and consequent reduction in pollination are estimated at US$135 million. And not only honey bees are killed. An attempt to control aphids on alfalfa hay fields when the plants were in partial bloom caused a 95 per cent reduction in alkali bee larvae in three nearby soil nesting sites. Losses in seed production and pollination totalled US$287000. Even after two years the alkali bees had only regained 25 per cent of their original population.
It is in no one's interest for bees to be harmed. Their pollinating activity is a vital part of food production. Without it, many of our everyday foods would not be on the menu. Nor would there be viable seed for future crops. If a fruit orchard is optimally pollinated, the trees will bear to their maximum; each fruit will be well-formed, and all fruit will be ready at the same time - the best possible harvest.
Of course, farmers growing crops which are improved by insect pollination often understand the need to have bees nearby at the time of flowering, and know enough not to spray when bees are working the flowers. However, bees can be harmed at any time by chemical sprays present on any plants where bees might forage, even the flowering weeds along the sides of fields.
Clearly, pesticides have many implications and anyone who must use them needs good information. Unfortunately, books containing long lists of chemical names, and data on toxicity, tend to be off-putting for non-specialists.
There is an evident need for a handbook accessible to laymen, and this volume meets it. Split into 15 compact chapters, with essential data grouped into six appendixes, it is quite readable. Information can be obtained quickly via the two indexes, which work well. The first index lists chemical names and leads the reader to specific data on each substance. The second leads to more general information. The writing style of the book is informal, with minimum references, and much of the contents are obviously based on the authors' own field experience.
Many points not widely grasped are explained simply. One is how a substance applied to a plant can poison not just the bee that visits the plant, but a whole colony of honey bees. Pollinating bees have hairy bodies. The branched hairs covering them have evolved to allow bees to pick up minute pollen grains from flowers - the method by which cross-pollination between plants is achieved. But plants produce pollen in abundance and only a minute amount is needed to pollinate other flowers. The rest eventually reaches the bees' nest, where it serves as a protein food source for developing young.
If, rather than pollen, the bees pick up pesticide, the results can be catastrophic. The amount of pesticide pickup will depend on the pesticide formulation, but micro-encapsulated pesticides are about the same size as pollen grains. These tiny capsules adhere readily to foraging bees and are brushed or combed by the bee into the pollen-carrying "baskets" on its legs. When the bee returns to the hive, the poisonous load may bring death to the hive's next generation.
It is not only the toxicity of a pesticide, but also its formulation that counts. Least hazardous for bees are pesticides in granular form. The large particles are applied to the soil, and bees don't normally come in contact with them. Insecticides can also be made less dangerous to bees by adding solvents or oily substances to the spray. This either causes the insecticide to adsorb more strongly to plant tissues, or hinders uptake of the poison into the bees' body fluids.
Johansen and Mayer take a pragmatic approach to pesticide use, emphasizing the benefits they've brought to food production and storage. (Ironically, they note that DDT - so widely known as an environmental nemesis - is actually among the pesticides that are less toxic to bees.)
If widely used, this handbook could help minimize some of the unnecessary harm done by pesticides. It can help beekeepers protect their colonies, as well as to recognize the symptoms and signs of poisoning and to know what to do if the worst happens. The book will also be helpful to crop growers, fostering understanding of the value of local bee populations to their own operations. It will also help pesticide users to select substances least poisonous to bees, to use them in the least harmful formulations and apply them in the least harmful way.
The authors write primarily for North America, but their information is widely applicable elsewhere.
Values for the environment: a guide to economic appraisal, by J.T. Winpenny, Overseas Development Institute/ HMSO, London, 1991, 277 pp.
This is one of the first attempts in years, perhaps since William Ramsay and Claude Anderson published their more popularly-oriented Managing the environment two decades ago, to seriously address the issue of environmental accounting.
Serious is the operative word. Winpenny's work is far from light, Sunday morning reading. Oriented toward those who are already well-versed in the basics of cost/benefit analysis, as well as the key environmental issues, its purpose is to advise economists in applying economic values to the environmental effects of development projects.
In a period when the term sustainability is fast becoming what sociologists call a "god-word" almost devoid of meaning, such a book is bound to be of use in cutting through the bafflegab of public relations statements and bringing discussion back to hard dollars and cents.
Although it is marred slightly by minor faults-Chapter three, for example, features such a welter of acronyms and names for different types of analysis that it makes the discussion hard to follow - the book is must reading for development economists and environmentalists alike.
The first two chapters plunge straight into the jargon of sustainability, providing a rapid run-through of the planet's most critical environmental problems, from the aquatic to the urban industrial. Chapter three then provides the mainstage that launches the reader into economic analysis, describing in detail the various modes by which values can be attached to the resources around us. These include Effect on Production (EOP), Preventive Expenditure (PE), Replacement Cost (RC), Human Capital (HC), Hedonic Methods (HM), Travel Cost Method (TCM), and Contingent Valuation (CV). EOP, PE and RC have received relatively little attention and lack a fixed methodology. The last four approaches (HC, HM, TCM and CV), however, have had more coverage and have an identified, though incomplete, methodology. All of the approaches suffer the same drawback of requiring a large database on which to quantify findings. Existing methodologies are also frequently irrelevant to developing countries.
There is quite a bit of overlap between Chapters four (economic valuation in practice) and five (appraising projects). The former uses the concepts of Chapter three to present practical ways to value potential environmental impacts, while the latter provides examples of many different kinds of projects - agricultural, forestry, fisheries, energy, urban, road and railway. The potential impacts of each type are discussed, along with how to place values on those impacts. Chapter six (policy appraisal and adjustment) looks at political, economic and fiscal policy options which, codified in legislation, could ameliorate environmental damage.
The book goes far beyond mere environmental impact assessment (EIA), where the main effects of a project are analysed. An impact assessment identifies areas where a proposed project would present serious risks, and assesses whether a redesign or some alternative solution would render the project more sustainable. Winpenny extends this, proposing that once a project has been approved it should also be appraised globally, using techniques that quantify environmental costs and benefits. He uses standard cost-benefit analysis (CBA), in which information relating to the environment is incorporated, as a model. An example:
The impact of an agricultural project on the environment is influenced by the type of habitat, cropping pattern and corresponding input, and the system of ownership and management. The possible changes a project could introduce are endless....To focus specifically on a project to introduce irrigation: the project is likely to change the natural water systems, which would seriously affect the life-style of the downstream users....The value of the losses of the downstream inhabitants both in terms of production, human health and the effects on the animal population, changes in biodiversity and changes to the natural wildlife should be assigned a value and incorporated into the calculation of the CBA.
Unfortunately, the point at which an EIA exercise ends and a project appraiser should start to conduct an environmental CBA is not defined by the author, nor are ways of including such costs in a project at development stage.
This kind of analysis is still in its infancy, and relies heavily on data from developed countries which are not always relevant in the Third World.
An aspect of development mentioned briefly in Chapter six, but not elaborated upon, is the role of people in the environment. Winpenny's entire argument is based on the assumption that project development happens in a top-down manner, and that an affected community must passively suffer the consequences of any intervention. If so, donor agencies have learned nothing from the abandoned irrigation schemes and rusting farm machinery that litter the terrain of too many countries. Not to suggest that people should take an integral part in the process of their own development is a rather glaring oversight.
Whatever its weaknesses, however, Winpenny's book is a useful contribution to a discussion that has for too long lain dormant.