Land and food
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CTA. 1989. Land and food. Spore 24. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/45170
Land and Food published by CTA in English and French, both languages available in hard or soft covers. 'Land and Food' will be available for government and educational establishments, research institutions, libraries, and non-profitmaking organisati
The greatest tasks facing the developing world today are to increase food production and to protect the environment. The two are inextricably linked and neither can be achieved without the other. It does not make sense to meet the needs of people today if this leaves no tomorrow for their children. In effect, development must be sustainable. It is to raise awareness not just of these challenges facing the developing world, but how to meet them constructively, that CTA has published 'Land and Food'. 'Our main aim in producing this book', writes Director of CTA, Mr Daniel Assoumou Mba in the Foreword, 'is to raise the awareness of those responsible for policies and actions in the rural areas. We also believe that it can play a useful role in a wide variety of educational programmes'. The book is designed for maximum impact on the reader: stunning aerial photographs are linked to a brief but biting commentary on the developmental mistakes of the past. Seen from the unfamiliar perspective of the aerial photographer, clustered circles of thatched huts set in denuded savanna appear vulnerable and lifeless eroded and scarified hillsides suggest the bones of a dead continent; the spreading stain of silt entering the ocean has the menace of a slow-moving poison cloud; a broad river, with virgin forest on one bank and charred stumps on the other, contrasting what is and what is to come. There is also a positive and constructive message with photographs and text showing the inventiveness and productive power of Man - dams, mosaics of rich farmland, water-harvesting, dune stabilisation and elaborately terraced hillsides. These also show the ability of seemingly simple peasants to work out and implement sustainable systems of agriculture. But there is also ample evidence that planning and imple mentation of projects must involve local people if misuse and over-exploitation of the environment are to be avoided. Nowhere in any of the photographs in 'Land and Food' is there a human face or figure but every picture is graphic evidence of human activity. The message is clear: it is people who destroy their environment and suffer for it and it is peopIe who must be mobilized and from whom the solutions must come to solve the agricultural and environmental crisis. Also none of the locations on the photographs is identified because the problems illustrated are shared and they do not stop at frontiers. It is irrelevant whether a picture of a settlement drowned by flooding is in Asia or Africa, scenes of encroaching desert are north or south of the Sahara, whether the deforestation shown is in Africa, Asia or Latin America or whether an eroded mountain is in the Caribbean or the Pacific; the unity is the Tropical world. The book embraces seven themes: People; Land, soil and vegetation; Livestock and wildlife: Water resources Erosion, land degradation and desertification, Sustainable development; Pollution and waste. But no aspect of the environment exists or can be treated alone and there is cross-referral in pictures and text. There have been other books of photographs of life in the Tropics but Lloyd Timberlake, who wrote the introduction, draws a distinction between them and this publication when he warns: 'There is a beauty in the rural tropics which can blind us to the underlying reality, to the problems and challenges. Even poverty and the daily struggle appear quaint, curious and romantic. The photos in this book, taken from the sky, disorient us. They force us to focus anew. We see not human beings but human processes'. 'Land and Food' was designed and produced under the direction of Robert Dellere, Head of CTA's Technical Division, who also contributed to the text. In the epilogue he brings an optimistic view to the challenges outlined: 'Rational solutions based on experience and the accumulated store of scientific and technical knowledge are available. If governments and people are made aware of the stakes and are prepared to respond by mobilising their energies and coordinating their efforts, then it will be possible to say with confidence that there is, indeed, hope'. 'Land and Food' published by CTA in English and French, both languages available in hard or soft covers. 'Land and Food' will be available for government and educational establishments, research institutions, libraries, and non-profitmaking organisations concerned with environment and nural development problems in ACP countries.