The circles of life (6) Get on your cycle
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CTA. 1999. The circles of life (6) Get on your cycle. Spore 2000 (Supplement to Spore 84). CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/46645
The circles of life (6) Get on your cycleDo not move. If you must move, do so with caution. If we look for one word around which agriculture and rural development in ACP countries could revolve in the first decades of the new millennium, it could be...
Do not move. If you must move, do so with caution. If we look for one word around which agriculture and rural development in ACP countries could revolve in the first decades of the new millennium, it could be mobility . The mobility of people, the mobility of goods, and the mobility of ideas, knowledge, and capital. Rapid population growth is expected during the early decades. A combination of degradation of agricultural conditions in some areas, increases in scale in agricultural production techniques in others, and the growing attraction of the town and city will encourage, and sometimes, force people to leave their rural lives in their tens of millions. The process is known to experts as internal migration when it happens within a country, or just plain migration when it happens, and is allowed, between countries. The number of people living in rural areas will, in Africa, be overtaken by those living in the city by 2010. This indeed means the end of rural life as we know it today, but it does not necessarily signify a collapse of rural society. It means that rural life will change and could even improve for those who choose to continue there. And as this text is being read mainly by people concerned with rural development, we can accept, can we not, that the city need not become the hell-hole that some predict? After all, at one level, the city seems to work. For the agricultural community, on a material level, it means a market. Now there s a word. The market. Most of today s talk about the future of ACP agriculture is about the market: meshing into it, catching up with it, even conquering it. But the global market may not be all that it, glitteringly, seems to be. The ACP agricultural community would perhaps do well to consider its long-term future against a background of 'Where There is No, or Less, Global Market'. Quite simply, whilst we can see the future trends in population and prospects for new and revived agricultural traditions continuing to raise food production, it is hard to see where the energy will come from to move and manage unfettered free trade as is being promoted today. There are dire predictions about energy prices and about scarcities or breakdowns in energy supply. For developing countries, it will be increasingly difficult to be a player on the world trade stage because of the high costs of energy in transport. Early in the millennium, our bodies of global governance will seek to control energy use, through a mechanism that is known popularly, but not entirely correctly, as the Carbon Police, who will prevent or punish the excessive use of certain fuels. There may be barriers, if not bans, on the air freighting of mangoes and mange-tout peas and countless other products from the South to the niche markets of the North. Whilst our regions in the world, including those of the ACP community, become increasingly interdependent, it seems probable to some that our horizons may be regional and not global. We shall be aware of the world and its diversity of ideas and achievements, including those in agricultural research and practice, and governance, for the way we organise our place in the world is what will actually define the extent to which we can succeed in meeting the challenges of increasing agricultural production. And that comes down to how we communicate. 'Help us. We suffer a lot in Africa. We have no rights as children. We have no food. We have war and illness. We have schools but lack education. We want to study so we can be like you, in Africa.' a letter carried by Yaguine Koita and Fode Tounkara, who were found dead in the landing gear of a plane arriving in Brussels from Conakry. 1999