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WORLD SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE ASSOCIATION NEWSLETTER
Dedicated to the well being of all people in harmony with nature
Vol. 2, No. 11, October/November 1993
- WORLD BANK CONFERENCE ON HUNGER RAISES KEY POLICY
- HIGHLIGHTED IN THIS ISSUE; NEWS IN BRIEF
- DETOXIFYING THE GREEN REVOLUTION
- INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH CENTERS ANNOUNCE NEW PEST
MANAGEMENT EMPHASIS ON BIOCONTROL TECHNIQUES
- ANNUAL WORLD BANK "CENTERS WEEK" ADDRESSES TOUGH
ISSUES FOR AGRICULTURE
- RESOLUTION ADOPTED BY THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE
ON THIRD WORLD FARMERS' RIGHTS AND SUSTAINABLE
"As of June 30, 1991, the IBRD (International Bank for
Reconstruction and Development or World Bank) had approved loans
in an aggregate amount exceeding $203 billion for 109 developing
countries. The World Bank now is the principal international
institution involved in financing global development." Jonathan
Cahn in Harvard Human Rights Journal, Vol. 6, 1993.
WORLD BANK CONFERENCE ON HUNGER RAISES KEY POLICY
NGOs Challenge Policymakers to Rethink and Reform Macroeconomic
Policies that Negatively Impact Food Security and Agricultural
by Linda Elswick, WSAA Washington
International environment and development policy impacts
farmers and farming in critically important ways. What food is
produced and how, by and for whom, and at what cost? The answers
determine in part who goes hungry and who doesn't. The World Bank
Conference on Hunger, to be held November 30-December 1 in
Washington, raises a number of questions about the impact of Bank
policies on the ability of people to feed themselves sustainably.
In the rush to feed the world, we often hear the argument
that only large-scale production, "efficient" and cheap, and based
on a global system of food trade, can meet the needs of hungry
people. Yet the NGO Alternative Treaties on Sustainable
Agriculture and Food Security adopted by over 200 groups at the
Earth Summit (and since signed by several hundred more) note that
"a full understanding of the ecological, economic and social
aspects of agricultural systems is a pre-condition to sustainable
agriculture and food security." Representatives of NGOs and social
movements pledged in Rio to "Increase sustainable agriculture
production in urban, peri-urban and rural areas at the grassroots
level with emphasis on alleviating poverty and improving regional
food supply, small scale production and self-sufficiency."
They also noted that increasing food insecurity is due in
large part to "the prevailing export-oriented development strategy
which focuses on wide scale cash crop production at the expense of
local food production, and the gradual isolation of small
The structural adjustment policies of the World Bank
encourage a model exactly opposite to the direction advocated by
NGOs. The huge sums of money for development are in the form of
loans which must be repaid. Governments are required to focus on
export crops, some of which are already produced in price-
depressing surplus. Such policies are linked not with local needs
and markets but crops requiring high yielding seed varieties and
high amounts of expensive inputs in the form of artificial
fertilizer and pesticides.
There are farmers who are looking for another way. Miguel
Nunez of the Institute for Production and Research in Tropical
Agriculture (IPIAT), who is investigating a proposed Bank loan of
$400 million for "agricultural extension" in his country of
Venezuela, notes that producers are increasingly requesting not
more funds for agricultural "development" of the kind they have
seen in the past, but training in ecological farming methods.
Many NGOs contend that World Bank policies of structural
adjustment have actually caused hunger and environmental
degradation and lead to less local food self-sufficiency. They
believe that communities should have a major role in shaping
policies that affect them.
Highlighted in this Issue
This issue of the WSAA Newsletter reports on current
activities of some international institutions and NGOs
(non-governmental organizations.) Each sector, along with
governments, academic and research institutions, is increasingly
developing the potential to influence the direction of
agriculture, and food security, worldwide.
Understanding the impact on agriculture and whether or not
local, national and international policies encourage or discourage
farmers to produce food sustainably is key. The much awaited
Earth Summit, which brought together as never before the issues of
environment and development, meant that not only how food is grown
but how countries are supposed to move toward "sustainability"
became the topic of much debate. The role of such institutions
as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Consultative
Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and the World
Bank is key not only due to the sheer amount of resources that
they are putting toward the effort, but their capacity to
influence either positively or negatively the direction farmers
are encouraged to take.
As noted by Nicanor Perlas in his description of the
impact of past policies embodied in the Green Revolution, farmers
and sustainable agriculture advocates have been in the forefront
of working toward a food secure future by practicing farming
techniques that preserve both people and land. Major institutions
are making efforts to change. We report encouraging news from a
Washington press conference sponsored by the CGIAR that described
an increased emphasis on biocontrol methods to protect crops
against pests, and the shift to more participation.
Also very significant is the recent Third World Network
report on the strong support of the FAO's regional office for Asia
and the Pacific, based in Bangkok, for "ways of growing food which
minimize the use of chemical pesticides and mineral fertilizers,
and are in harmony with natural and ecological principles." The
resolution adopted at the recent international conference on Third
World Farmers' Rights and Sustainable Agriculture in India is also
encouraging as an example of farmers, scientists and
environmentalists working together to attain this vision of
A Statement to the World Bank Hunger Conference and NGO Consensus
Positions Paper on Eliminating Hunger and Achieving Food Security,
which delineates agreed upon actions from both international and
domestic conferences, has been prepared by NGOs.
Both documents are available by email or post from WSAA
Washington, 1331 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C.
NEWS IN BRIEF:
About WSAA and this Newsletter. Beginning with the next issue, a
longer version of the WSAA Newsletter will be produced bi-monthly.
All subscribers will receive their full complement of newsletters,
which will be reporting on issues of significance to farmers,
researchers, policymakers and NGOs active in promoting sustainable
agriculture worldwide. At a recent meeting of the WSAA Executive
Committee, progress to date was reviewed and recommendations for
future priorities and actions were made. These will be
considered by the WSAA Board and reported in a future issue.
DETOXIFYING THE GREEN REVOLUTION by Nicanor Perlas
Everyone knows that to feed its growing population the world
must rely on the chemical intensive agricultural technologies of
the Green Revolution. Everyone, that is, except the growing
number of farmers who are outperforming their chemical dependent
neighbors using methods that work with, rather than against,
natural ecological forces. Their commercial scale success is
beginning to win over even resistent skeptics.
The staging center for the original green revolution was the
Philippine based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).
Its hybrid rice varieties produced record yields in response to
intensive inputs of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and
irrigation. International institutions such as the World Bank
mobilized massive funding to encourage wide-spread monoculture of
IRRI produced its first "miracle" rice variety in the 1960s.
By 1973 the majority of Philippine farmers were already using the
new seeds, but their harvests of 1.7 tons per hectare were well
below IRRI yields because fertilizer and other inputs were not up
to recommended levels. Suffering a serious rice deficit, the
Philippine government launched Masagana 99, a program intended to
raise rice yields to 99 cavans per hectare (nearly 5 tons) by
significantly increasing use of chemical fertilizers and
Lorenzo Jose, a small rice farmer in Pampanga Province,
became one of the government's early green revolution heroes by
producing a yield of over 8 tons of paddy rice per hectare on his
1.6 hectare plot. Yet less than ten years later, Mr. Jose found
his soil so depleted that he had to apply four times more chemical
fertilizer to maintain his earlier yields. His soil had also
become hard, sticky and difficult to plow. To control
infestations of increasingly chemical resistent insects he had to
continually increase insecticide applications. Wild fishes and
snails, important protein sources, began to disappear. Returns no
longer covered costs and his debts mounted. He was more prone to
illness. His skin was itchy and wounds healed slowly.
Farmers from the Abra River Irrigators' Association, who had
"green revolution" experiences similar to Mr. Jose's, went with
representatives of a local nongovernmental organization (NGO), the
Abra River Irrigation Project, to ask the government's Department
of Agriculture (DA) for help in shifting to organic farming
methods. Meeting a hostile reception they turned to the Center
for Alternative Development Initiatives (CADI), an NGO promoting
ecological agriculture, and Ikapati Farms and Company, CADI's for-
profit affiliate that operates several farms throughout the
Philippines. Ikapati demonstrates the commercial viability of
bio- dynamic farming using high yielding seeds combined with
natural pest control and preparations and practices that enhance
the fertility of the soil, maintain nitrogen levels, promote the
balanced breakdown of composts, and stimulate the activity of
photosynthesis and other beneficial physiological reactions.
Working with Ikapati and CADI, the Abra farmers chose the
methods they wanted to try and worked out plans for commercial
scale trials on their farms. DA technicians stopped by regularly
during the trials to ridicule the farmers -- until the rice plants
began to grow green, vigorous and aromatic, yielding boutiful
quantities of golden grain. Though the farmers used not a drop of
pesticide, their fields were kept virtually free of harmful pests
by beneficial insects, such as wolf spiders.
In the first year of large-scale experimentation, one farmer
who used the full spectrum of Ikapati technology harvested 6.5
tons per hectare, three times the provincial average. One third
of participants had yields that exceeded the Masagana 99 target
and well over twice the provincial average. Nearly all had yields
in excess of the average for chemical farmers. The enhanced
flavor and aroma of the bio-dynamically grown rice brought premium
prices, while input costs per ton were substantially lower,
resulting in net profits in some instances more than two and a
half times those of typical chemical farmers.
The farmers' final triumph came the day that DA technicians
erected a big placard in front of one of their fields proudly
announcing "Bio-Dynamic Rice" in luminous DA colors and the DA
initiated a program to promote the methods in other regions.
These farmers demonstrated that it is possible to shift
immediately from chemical to bio-dynamic methods on commercial
scale while increasing yields and profits. Contrary to prevailing
myth, it is the continued reliance on chemical-intensive
agriculture that threatens the food security of a growing world
population. Fortunately, small farmers and NGOs around the world
are now leading the way toward detoxifying the green revolution.
_____________________ Nicanor Perlas is president of the Center
for Alternative Development Initiatives (110 Scout Rallos, Quezon
City, Philippines), general manager of Ikapati Farms and Company.
Thiscolumn was prepared and distributed by the PCDForum based on a
case study Perlas co-authored with Mos Viado and Mary Josephine
Cagurangan. Reprinted with permission of the People- Centered
Development Forum, New York, USA.
INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH CENTERS ANNOUNCE NEW PEST
MANAGEMENT EMPHASIS ON BIOCONTROL TECHNIQUES
Studies note multiple benefits to farmers of decreasing pesticides
in producing several key crops worldwide
The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research
(CGIAR) sponsored a symposium "Cutting-Edge Science for Earth-
Friendly Farming: Current Issues and Advances in Sustainable
Agriculture" on October 21st in Washington. Scientists announced
advances in environmentally safe technologies to increase food
production and reduce pesticide use, including insect predators,
natural "pesticides" and genetic resistance. Several papers
presenting work being done in various research centers called for
substitution of pesticides with a variety of methods of
biocontrol, environmentally-friendly methods of pest management.
- "Pesticide-related health problems outweigh the benefits of
chemical control," a study that encourages Asian farmers to
"protect their health and save money by using integrated pest
management (IPM)," not pesticides -- International Rice Research
Institute (IRRI) , Philippines
- Deploying a natural fungus against locusts and grasshoppers
instead of dieldrin, an environmentally destructive insecticide,
is the focus of research by the International Institute of
Tropical Agriculture in Nigeria (IITA), working with the
International Institute of Biological Control and the Department
for Crop Protection Training in Niger.
- The Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center, (AVRDC)
Taiwan has developed a method of controlling the diamondback moth,
the world's most destructive pest of five important vegetables.
The technique is reducing pesticide use by up to 80 percent, and
is being incorporated into the national agricultural policies of
- A method to enhance the resistance of pearl millet to downy
mildew, a deadly fungus that attacks this ancient African crop,
"long a food staple for the poorest of the poor because it can
survive in hot, harsh environments," has been achieved through the
work of ICRISAT, the International Crops Research Institute for
the Semi- Arid Tropics, in Andhra Pradesh, India.
- Also presented were breakthroughs on "friendly insects" to help
farms in South America and Africa protect cassava crops from the
hornworm. Farmers who can "ill afford to control pests with
chemicals that damage water resources and food chains, as well as
kill off friendly insects, can make their own 'green milkshakes'
of homemade biocide that harms only hornworms" -- International
Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Colombia.
The news from the International Potato Center (CIP) in
Lima, Peru was less heartening. Researchers described "widespread
outbreaks of an extremely aggressive potato disease that is a
major threat to potato producers in both the developing and
industrialized world." The developing world is particularly at
risk because potato production there is growing faster than any
other staple crop, with the possible exception of wheat. They
went on to say that the potato is the largest consumer of
pesticides among the world's major food crops.
This information has been derived from notes taken and press
releases distributed at the Symposium. They as well as Speakers'
Biographical Information and "CGIAR: A Framework for Action" are
available from the CGIAR Headquarters at 1818 H Street, N.W.,
Washington, D.C. 20433, U.S.A. Tel: (202) 473-8951; Fax: (202)
334- 8750; cable: INTBAFRAD
ANNUAL WORLD BANK "CENTERS WEEK" ADDRESSES TOUGH
ISSUES FOR AGRICULTURE
by Kristin Schafer, Committee on Agricultural Sustainability for
The Consultative Group on International Agricultural
Research (CGIAR) held its annual "Centers Week" meeting at the
World Bank from October 25-29. The week of discussions revealed
tough choices and challenges ahead for the system.
Donor support for the international centers continues to
drop; the system saw an 8% budget cut from 1992 to 1993 (in real
terms), and expects another 6-7% drop in 1994's budget. At the
same time, pressure is increasing from all sides (donors,
international private voluntary organizations or PVOs, local NGOs)
for the centers to shift their agenda toward a more participatory
research process, with sharper focus on environmentally
sustainable products and practices. The CGIAR's Technical
Advisory Committee was given the task of exploring what can be
done (restructuring, etc.) to move the system in new directions
with fewer resources.
Other issues discussed during the week included:
- An analysis of world food trends. Per Pinstrup-Anderson of the
International Food Policy Research Institute presented a
disturbing analysis of food security challenges for developing
countries in the coming decades.
- The CGIAR response to Agenda 21. The following new project
areas were proposed: marginal lands, in situ genetic resource
conservation, and integrated pest management. New projects are to
build on ongoing efforts, involve inter-center collaboration, and
draw on national agricultural research systems and NGOs in project
design. The funding mechanism for these projects remained
unresolved; a "trust fund," possibly managed by the United Nations
Environment Program (UNEP), was proposed.
- Intellectual property rights. No conclusion was reached on a
CGIAR position on this issue, but a panel discussion prompted a
heated debate. There was general consensus that the CG system
should have a more visible role in international discussions of
IPR and biodiversity.
It was also announced that the current Chair of the CGIAR,
V. Rajagopalan, will be replaced in December by Ismael
Serageldin, who is currently the Vice President for
Environmentally Sustainable Development at the World Bank.
Papers on the above topics (and others not listed) are available
through the CG Secretariat, 1818 H Street, NW, Washington, DC
20433; tel: (202) 473-8951; fax: (202) 334-8750
FOCUS ON FARMERS
INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON THIRD WORLD FARMERS'
RIGHTS AND SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE
The Conference sponsors would appreciate if you could help to
publicise the following resolutions, adopted by the Karnataka
Rajya Ryota Sangha and Third World Network conference (3-4
Oct) that followed a rally of 500,000 Indian farmers on 2
RESOLUTION ADOPTED BY THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON THIRD WORLD
FARMERS' RIGHTS AND SUSTAINABLE
AGRICULTURE ORGANISED BY KARNATAKA RAJYA RYOTA
SANGHA AND THIRD WORLD NETWORK
October 3-4, 1993, Bangalore, India
Eminent scientists, agronomists and representatives of
farmers' organisations from across the Third World, including
India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand,
Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Nicaragua and Brazil met together to assess
threats to the survival of Third World farmers, to work out a
common strategy to protect Third World farmers' rights, and to
promote sustainable agriculture.
The following resolutions were passed by the participants at
the conclusion of the Conference.
1. We agree to initiate a Third World Farmers' Campaign to fight
against TNC monopoly as promoted by the Uruguay Round of GATT
Negotiations (commonly known as the Dunkel Draft), and to promote
farmers' Community Intellectual Property Rights.
2. We agree to launch an International Neem Campaign as the
beginning of a people's movement against the patenting of the
Third World's plants, seeds, genetic and biological resources.
3. We reject the concept of the patenting of all forms of life,
including plants, animals, microorganisms, human beings, or their
parts, whether occurring naturally or in a modified form.
4. We declare that the seeds, plants, and biological materials
and biological wealth are part of the Common Intellectual Property
of the people of the Third World and of the world, and we will
protect, develop and advance these Common Intellectual Property
5. We agree to collect and share information on ecologically
sound and traditional agriculture practices as an alternative to
the green revolution and the new agricultural biotechnologies. We
see this as necessary to break free of multinational corporations'
control over agriculture and farmers.
6. Farmers, scientists and environmentalists among us agree to
collaborate in a programme of research and training and spreading
of experiences to build up sustainable agriculture, that is
environmentally sound and socially just and equitable. The
Research Institute to be started by the Karnataka Rajya Ryota
Sangha will be part of this collaborative initiative.
7. We agree to support initiatives to promote the exchange of
seeds among farmers with and across countries, to set up community
seed banks and to restore biodiversity in agriculture in the Third
An additional set of resolutions adopted at the farmers' rally is
also available and can be requested through WSAA Washington or be
found on email at cdp:biodiversity.
For further information, contact: Vandana Shiva Research
Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology/ Third World
Network c/o 87 Cantonment Road 10250 Penang Malaysia Tel: (+604)
366728, 366159; Fax: ((+604) 364505; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
"Trade and agriculture policy are social policy. They determine
where and how people will live, how land is held and worked, and
the number and sizes of enterprises that contribute to food
production and processing. Trade and agriculture policy can
contribute to a regenerative strategy for rural community
development, but they can also undermine it."
Karen Lehman and Mark Ritchie Institute
for Agriculture & Trade Policy,
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, 1992
"This Conference considers that food security is sacrosanct to any
country and all countries should be fully sovereign and free to
formulate their own agricultural policies."
Resolution adopted by the Third World
Farmers' Rally at Bangalore, India, on
October 2, 1993