Everyone involved with trying to change the agricultural
system recognizes the need for new "rulers" to measure progress,
or the lack thereof. A decade's worth of policy studies and
attempts at reform have demonstrated pretty clearly that it will
be a long, slow process getting to environmentally sustainable
production systems if farmers, and researchers work at the margins
of conventional systems, incorporating, for example, integrated
pesticide management practices, as opposed to biologically based
pest management systems that start with the goal of controlling
pests largely with cultural, genetic, and biological practices and
In the developing world context, sustainable agriculture that
relies heavily on local inputs, is ecologically sensitive, and
which spreads the benefits of progress widely in order to reduce
poverty and hopelessness is fundamentally different from
specialized, export-crop dominated, chemical intensive farmers
systems that have been the principle subject of most "development"
investments in the last several decades. There is now a broad-
based consensus in the development community that sustainable
agriculture and rural development, or SARD, requires a very
different approach to development (much more participatory and
"bottom-up"), and very different systems and technologies.
Policies and institutions will also need to change.
I am working with UNDP and supporting its efforts to shift
its own programs/policies/priorities to support what UNDP calls
"Sustainable Human Development" through SARD. One of my main
tasks is to help UNDP work with its development partners, the FAO,
the MDBs, countries, and NGOs in developing new "rulers" to use in
determining where and to what extent food insecurity is rising, as
a result of UNsustainable agriculture; and to design and
administer development projects that promote food security and
economic development on a sustainable basis.
Creating a new ruler requires development of indicators of
sustainable agriculture, a task which literally hundreds of people
and institutions are now actively working on. I am sending this
message to invite interested individuals to participate in a
moderated international tele-conference, linking the ideas and
activities of people from all over the world who share a common
interest in seeing such indicators developed and applied.
The "invitation" message for the indicators tele-conference
appears below. I hope many will join in. If there is sufficient
interest, I will prepare and post a summary of postings over the
last six weeks from the SARD table, so that everyone will have a
sense of where we started from.
Please pass this message along to any colleagues you feel
might be interested in joining. Gabriel -- will you please cross-
post it to other appropriate lists.
Invitation to Join SARD Table
Come one, come all, and join the SARD table discussion group
that Chuck Benbrook will be moderating over the next few months.
You can join by sending the following message --
SUBSCRIBE SARD TABLE
to the address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Once you have signed up, you can send a message to the table
by sending your message to:
Your message will then be sent by the list-server to all
participants in the SARD table (about 35 as of June 13, 1994).
Please post and respond often.
You can contact me with questions or suggestions at my e-mail
address: email@example.com ;or, via phone (202-546-5089) or
fax (202-546-5028), or on foot or via mail at: 409 First Street
S.E. Washington, D.C. 20003.
BACKGROUND RE NEED FOR SARD TABLE
Several participants in the January 1, - April 24, 1994 Bob
Hart moderated INFORUM indicators tele-conference convinced Bob to
let us keep this unique channel of dialogue open. Our
determination arose from the many positive personal contacts
established during the tele-conference, and the progress made
possible by the collective richness of our backgrounds/experience.
On behalf of everyone in the tele-conference, let me say that much
of the tele-conference's success was made possible by Bob Hart's
professionalism and the spirit of mutual respect and openness he
instilled in the dialogue.
Great job Bob!!, and thanks.
As the end of Round I approached in April, 1994, several
individuals began working on a method to initiate a Round II. It
became clear this was going to take some time. The hope is to be
ready by the August SANREM-sponsored indicators meeting in
Washington to "kick off" Round II. The sponsors of Round II will
hopefully include UNDP, FAO, SANREM, the World Bank, CG, SCS/USDA,
U.S. AID, among others working on SARD indicators.
The SARD table should be used to post the results of ongoing
work on SARD indicators, especially at a more macro-level. We
will also address the linkages across levels of analysis,
continuing the search for that elusive hierarchy that will help
"place into context" highly divergent types of indicators
analyses. We are building a database that will allow us to
calculate values over time for these food security indicators, for
most countries. The same database may be useful to others who
want to start estimating indicator values. The database and
preliminary results will be presented at the August meeting.
So, please sign up and join in. In your introductory
message, please note any datasets specific to a country, or a
region, or a cross-cutting issue that you think might be of use in
the dataset we are building for use within the UN system. Looking
forward to the dialogue.