Integrated Planning and Management of Land ResourcesFAOCSDUNEP
World Summit on Sustainable Development, South Africa 2002

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Looking Forward to Rio+10: Reporting Progress on Land and Agriculture

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Message 12


Date: Monday, March 12, 2001 5:59 AM


I wish to thank those who have made contributions to this forum.  I have
found the ideas and exchanges quite interesting and also providing hope for
success in the efforts to achieve food sustainability for our earth's
rapidly growing population and for the protection and restoration of our
fragile eco-systems.  In addition, the realization that we must combine our
efforts to improve the conditions of the world's poor, whose population is
exploding at a much greater rate than in the urban countries, is also quite
encouraging.

The issues of poverty, especially amongst the rural poor of the developing
world, are complex and complicated.  What strikes me in the research which
we have undertaken in our efforts to create a program for rural economic and
environmental development, is that it appears there are several "built in"
weaknesses, perhaps even we might say-reasons to expect failure, in the
programs which have been advanced during the past 50 or more years.  Among
the reasons which have recently become recognized are: short term goals;
lack of adequate funding; failure to use inclusive programs which bring into
the planning and implementation the rural poor; perhaps even too close ties
with large agro-business; lack of sensitivity to local conditions; failure
to provide for education and support; failure to provide sufficient
infrastructural support; and lack of political resolve.  Of course, the list
could be longer.

What further strikes me in reading the messages and links which have
heretofore been provided by the participants in this electronic conference,
is that there is little if any focus on actual programs for
implementation-it appears that research and criticism are offered and the
suggestions that further research is required but, "where are solutions"
offered or presented?  Perhaps it is too early in this conference and my own
sentiment of wishing to identify ways of correcting the all too obvious
problems is asserting itself too early-time will tell, of course.

Our efforts to identify and create such a program for implementation have
laid great importance upon the involvement and empowerment of the affected
people.  So that the cry voiced in Brazilian research team, Voices of the
Poor: Crying out for change " People tended to equate poverty with
powerlessness and impotence, and to relate well being to security and a
sense of control of their lives.  'The rich one is someone who says, 'I am
going to do it,' and does it.' The poor, in contrast, do not fulfill their
wishes or develop their capacities' " can be successfully addressed.  We
understand that poverty has many dimensions.  The poor themselves report
distress that stems from low consumption, ill-health, lack of schooling,
vulnerability, lack of assets, low self-esteem, and disrespect from
officials. People who suffer from any one of these conditions tend to suffer
from the others as well. These conditions often reinforce each other. Rural
Poverty Report 2001, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

We further believe that effective poverty reduction requires resources to be
allocated to the rural and the poor.  Still, reviving agriculture is not the
whole, but only part of the answer to end rural poverty. Agricultural change
can work to reduce poverty, but only when linked to social changes that give
the poor power over the social factors that shape, and far too often
circumscribe, the horizons of their possibilities, including their
agricultural options and assets. Rural Poverty Report 2001, International
Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

Dr. Altieri points out in his web-linked article The Potential of
Agroecology to Combat Hunger in the Developing World  that: "As we move
toward the 21st Century, agriculture should take on a new orientation or
paradigm to achieve win-win-solutions; this orientation should be
ecologically and socially oriented, knowledge-based, and farmer-friendly.

The challenge is to increase the investment and research into this strategy,
and to scale-up projects that have already proven successful, thereby
generating a meaningful impact in the income, food security and
environmental integrity of the world's population, and especially the
millions of poor farmers yet untouched by modern agricultural technology.
In addition, participatory, farmer-friendly methods of technology
development must be incorporated, ensuring that women, men, elders, and
marginalized poor farmers or labor groups are included in development of
alternatives. If we fail to seize this opportunity, the existing cases will
remain as "islands of success" in a sea of deprivation, merely living
testimonies of the potential of the "path not taken" to feed the rural poor.
On the other hand, if we go forward to widely support and develop an
agro-ecological approach, humanity can benefit from its potential to address
the inequity, hunger and environmental degradation that so often accompany
high-input, energy intensive, corporate-style agriculture." With these
conclusions we agree.  We have worked towards the development of a
"culturally sensitive" program for rural economic and environmental
development which is presently designed for implementation in Vietnam-a
traditional agricultural society which also values education and cooperative
work.    We invite you to visit the website we have established at
http://www.reedprogram.com   whereat we present
an integrated solutions based catalyst of activities and programs for
attacking both the systemic conditions of rural poverty, the needs for
improved and increased food production, the requirements for empowering all
peoples and programs for environmental protection and restoration.

The Reed Program (rural economic and environmental development)  was
organized to catalyze the progressive development of rural communities in
developing countries.  Based upon the work experiences of its members, Reed
identifies, integrates, and optimizes the best tools, practices, and forms
of organization for successful and sustainable development.  In carrying out
its projects, Reed strongly encourages the participation of villagers and
supports the formation of cooperatives and mutual associations.  The Reed
Program is now planning the development of a four hectare farm model in
Vietnam using high-performance, sustainable technology and management
practices.  Over the long term, Reed plans to develop new villages using its
advanced systems.

The Reed Program's members are active in the design, construction, and
management of novel systems for water management, agriculture, aquaculture,
affordable housing, and alternative energy.  In addition to their working
knowledge of successful technologies, Reed's members are also consultants to
governments and businesses regarding the policies and practices for
profitable and sustainable economic development.  Collectively, the skills
and know how of the Reed Program membership enable Reed to develop
productive and sustainable villages living in harmony with the environment.
So, while I raised several important questions in my initial participation
of this electronic conference and forum, I now offer ways which we believe
provide satisfactory and "win-win" solutions to those questions and further
open this exchange of ideas for discussion.

Brian Lewis, The Reed Program  


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