Re Shannon Post
Charles Benbrook (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sat, 26 Aug 1995 07:55:09 -0400 (EDT)
Thanks for the thoughtful contribution. The important issue boild down
to this. The World Bank is getting ready for another major round of
lending to central African nations where population, land degradation and
low farm productivity have large regions on clearly an unsustainable path.
Does the money go into infrastructure (roads, ports, trucks) and
fertilizer plants, or into diversified cropping systems that rely
predominantly on locally available inputs and which can work toward
higher levels of production and lower dependence on capital, energy and
chemicals? This is the issue.
I say let foreign corporations put up the money for capital
intensive, export oriented farming systems, which will almost always be
on the best lands. I frankly wish even that such lands could be farmed
by people to meet regional needs, but that seems hopelessly unrealistic
in most countries where consolidation and control has already been lost.
The record shows -- and correct me if I am wrong -- that where ag
development projects go into an area focusing on dams, fertilizer and
pesticides and high yiled varieities the results have proven
disappointing for a complex mix of social and biological reasons.
I am not for no inputs and I completely agree that productivity
has got to be increased. I simply think it is foolish to think the
developed world has the commitment and money needed to turn Nigeria into
One of the problems many developing countries face is paying off
the debt from the last 20 years of loans in the name of high yield
agriculture -- loans which have made some people rich but left countries
much worse off. So the solution is more of the same? I hope not.