Global Research Assembly


July 1977S


Ted Owens

I thought I would start out by telling you where I come from. With a group of people like you, where we come from isn't something we talk about at coffee time that doesn't matter. We are all here because we are dissatisfied with something; we are searching for something. I first became involved with what is commonly and much too narrowly described as economic development 20 years ago. I went overseas in 1960, first to West Pakistan and then to East Pakistan, now Bangladesh.

The first two years when I was in the western side of the country I immediately started traveling around the countryside because I had what many people told me was a naive idea in my head Because the people in West Pakistan live in villages, I assumed that development was mostly about villages. As I rambled around, I didn't find much happening.

Some physical things were being done. Governments love to build things, and we all know that. There were new schools, community halls and wells, but there was no spirit of adventure and no fun, no sense of involvement. The things I took for granted that might be happening in villages, I just did not find.

This was at a time when Pakistan was being hailed as a model of a successful developing country. It was 18 months after Ayub Khan had taken control of the government and brought in a group of people from Harvard who put together a model five­year plan in a manner in which economists do this. On the one hand, I was constantly being told that this country was a model of how to do economic development and on the other hand, I didn't see anything.

In 1962, I went to East Pakistan. There, I conducted three experimental programs, experimental simply because they were different. At that time I had resigned from the orthodox or what we sometimes call the trickle­down approach to development, partly because of my experience with the three experimental programs in Bangladesh. Ever since then I have been part of an increasing number of people who have been hunting for a better, more human, more decentralized approach to economic development.

I came home for a short time in 1964. I started to read and talk to people, share experiences and reached the point in the mid­sixties when I decided to speak out about my own experiences of what I thought I had learned. I very quickly got caught up in a lot of technical arguments with Ph.D's over such things as whether small farms could be efficient and whether poor people can save money and so on. For about ten years now I have sensed that I spend a fair amount of my life arguing with the so­called experts and as nicely as I can, trying to tell them that they are wrong.

As the years have passed I have decided the fundamental issues of development are really more serious, much more basic than the technical issues the professionals and Ph.D's argue about. I am writing a book, trying to summarize what seems to be the most critical basic issue in the debate about development. I will read from one of the chapters:

"In the modernizing world of GNP, villagers and slum dwellers lack the knowledge and experience that are needed to resolve technical problems. We all know this. National governments and foreign aid agencies can follow one of two courses in dealing with these people.

First, they can assume that People are the Problem. In this approach, decisions are made almost entirely by experts and officials who are highly educated and hopefully experienced. Innovation and spontaneity are controlled from the national capital from the top down. Planning is considered to be a specialized function carried on by a handful who are trained for the purpose, and action supposedly begins with the analyses and recommendations of planners and other experts. The role of village and slum dwellers is simply to accept and apply the recommendations that are handed down to them even though they have not been involved in identifying the problem and may not know how to use the technology which is supposed to be used to solve it.

For villagers and slum dwellers, there is no pride in a kind of abject obedience, and this is their relationship to governments, officials, experts and people from foreign aid agencies. If you assume that people are the problem, then the professionals, experts and officials are the solution."

A quotation from the Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy aptly summarizes the relationship between government and people in this 'People­are­the­Problem' approach. "I sit on a man's back choking him and making him carrying me and yet assure myself and others that I am sorry for him and wish to lighten his load by all possible means except by getting off his back." Practically all the developing countries are following this 'People­are­the­Problem' approach. So also are the foreign aid agencies and regretfully, the one that employs me.

The second course which governments and foreign aid agencies can follow and which ICA is following is to assume that People are the Solution. If villagers and urban slum dwellers lack knowledge and experience, then government should help them acquire the former through the latter. The model of learning in this approach is aptly summarized in a well­known couplet from Confucius which goes like this: "I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand." The approach of the ICA is the "I do and I understand." Most governments and foreign aid agencies have been following the "I hear and I see" approaches and people do not get involved.

In the second course, planning is a form of participation, a way of involving large numbers of people in decision­making. Development is not a handful of projects planned by the national governments ­­ a highway here and a factory there. Rather, development becomes a part of the routine activities of everyday life ­­ millions of individual deeds by millions of individual people. Deeds in which people can feel the pride of achievement. The role of experts and administrators is to advise, help, teach and listen but not to try to give other people the answers to their problems.

A couple of years ago I would have said that is the problem overseas. In the past several years I have spent some time working with groups in the Washington area concerned with domestic problems, and I have come to realize that many of the questions that I have been fretting about for so many years in the so­called underdeveloped countries are questions which are valid here at home. I have concluded now that participation, or rather, the lack of it, is the most important political problem of our time and that this is true in the rich democracies, in the rich communist countries and in the underdeveloped nations as well.

I'd like to give you a quick history of the debate about development in the hope that it will help put your experience and your impressions about the underdeveloped countries into some kind of perspective. Concerning this debate about development, I want to add that this is relevant here at home as well.

Back in the early fifties when foreign aid began, there quickly grew up the orthodox or trickle­down approach to development and it consisted of two things. First of all, development was defined as a problem in economics, and the notion was that if investment increased and GNP rose, all kinds of wonderful things would happen. People would have jobs; they would have food; they would be able to buy medical services; government would gain more taxes; they would be able to build schools and so on.

This emphasis on investment was combined with a particular type of rural development known as Community Development. Now, this is with a capital 'C' and a capital 'D' and it refers to a particular set of ideas that comes from social welfare theory. It does not refer to the development of community in a general sense. This original approach to rural development was strictly done in a top­down manner. The whole program is based on the notion that villagers are lazy and shiftless ­­ all the things you've heard education people say if you've worked overseas. Therefore, government would have to make their decisions for them.

The emphasis on teaching people how to collect data, think about their own problems, talk about alternative solutions, which is the very heart of the ICA process did not exist in the original approach to rural development ­­this thing I called Community Development. It began in the early fifties and went on for about 15 years. For a decade and a half, this was the common rural development program that you found all over the world, first in Asia, then in Africa and Latin America, but eventually it became common in all three continents.

Let me digress for just a moment. If you would accept the notion that the ultimate test of any rural program is loyalty, Community Development flunked the ultimate test in South Viet Nam. The program that the American government supported there in its attempts to win the hearts of the people in South Viet Nam was based on Community Development theory ­­ and we all know it failed.

Trickle­down consists of two things ­­ this emphasis on increasing GNP and Community Development. On the GNP side it was assumed that the fastest way to do this was to copy the big farm, big factory, big technology­type production systems we have in the United States and other Western countries. Trickle­down is now dead, fortunately.

Historians might describe the 1970is as a period of transition in development theory. We now know that the Western big­farm, big­factory approach does not make sense in the poor countries because they are overwhelmingly a world of smallness. Eighty per cent of the farms in the developing world are 12 acres or less and in some countries, the crowded Asian countries, the average farm may be as little as two or three acres. Either we learn how to make these tiny farms more productive or some of these countries aren't going to succeed in development. Obviously, an American size tractor doesn't fit a two­acre farm and even if it did, people with an income of $300 to $400 per year couldn't afford to buy it. Most business and industrial enterprises are equally small. From the point of view of an American going to a developing country, it is a little bit like Gulliver in the land of Lilliput. We have learned this now.

During the sixties, economists began to study this problem of smallness and also the question of whether the poor could save. We have discovered that indeed, they can save, and out of this work has grown a subject called Small Producer Economics. It simply turns upside down all the economic premises we started with in the early 1950's. I want to mention the three key premises. Small farms are more efficient than large farms, so it makes sense for ICA to be doing the work with small farms that it is doing. In most categories of industry the same thing is true. Concerning savings, we have now learned that given the right set of circumstances, the poor, even if their incomes are just a couple of hundred dollars a year, can learn to save and in the long run, pay the cost of their own improvement. The whole economics of development theory has changed.

There is another aspect of the new ideas on development with which I am sure you are all familiar, Appropriate Technology. I'm sure you've all heard of a book called "Small is Beautiful," written by Schumacher. He called it Intermediate Technology. The name has changed since then. I will try to illustrate what a difference appropriate technology could make in an economy. And to use a type of technology that is totally different from what we have here in the States, I'd like to ask you to use your imaginations for a couple of minutes along these lines.

Let's suppose that the U.S. were as densely populated as Taiwan which is one of the most successful of all the developing countries in the Third World. How many people would there be in the United States? The answer is almost three and a half billion or about 801 of all the people in the world today would live in this country. Now, if there were that many Americans, would it be possible to have a fully employed economy? Somewhat surprisingly, the answer Is yes. Of that large number of people, the labor force would be one and a half billion, and of that one and a half billion the number of farmers would be a little over four hundred million ­­ roughly double the total population of the U.S. today. The average size farm would be only 2.2. acres. Nevertheless, we would have a highly productive farming system with farm incomes increasing. And then, If you looked at the industrial and service sectors, we would have a fully employed economy even with that large number of Americans.

Now, that says one thing we can talk about quickly and that is obviously, the technology used in Taiwan is radically different from what is used in the U.S. There Is only one characteristic about it that I want to mention because it Is the opposite of what we have all been brought up to believe.

We tend to think that technology Is something which not only makes people more productive but that it reduces the number of people needed to do a job. Technical machines tend to be labor replacing. In Taiwan, technology is job creating. One of the tasks which Americans have to engage in if we are going to be helpful overseas is to think of how we can use tools and equipment to make people more productive, but without replacing them it is possible.

I'd like to take these notions and comment on one of the major unsolved problems of development. This will Illustrate how a few countries which have followed a small­is­beautiful participatory approach to development are doing so much better than most countries which are really dual economics.

I mentioned that Taiwan is perhaps the most successful of the developing countries. Taiwan's system of local organizations has enabled the poor in that country to become members of a modern production system so that productivity and income are both rising. Length of life is about the same as in the U.S., but their infant mortality is a little lower than here, for the infant mortality rate among our minorities Is quite high. Quite possibly they have a better diet. They now have enough money to get the foods they need but they don't have enough to purchase the junk food that we eat.

The world food problem Is essentially a shortage of just one thing, the good grain or carbohydrate that people eat wherever they happen to live. The most common grains are rice, wheat and corn. The question Is whether villagers and slum dwellers have enough of that one thing so that they are not hungry. The world food problem Is not a problem of nutrition; it Is purely a question of whether a person's stomach Is full or not. For this reason, the statistics on food grain productivity are a quick indicator of how well a country is doing In feeding Its own people.

I'd like to point out just a couple of statistics which will be very simple. First of all, in the rich countries in general, the output per acre of the basic food grains runs from three thousand pounds up to 4500. Let's just say 3000 and over. In the U.S., it's about 3100. In Taiwan it's about 3800 and it is slightly more than twice as high as it was when the Chinese revolution ended. It is the highest of any of the countries in the developing world. We've all heard about something called the Green Revolution which started in Mexico, and how marvelous it is supposed to be.

In Mexico, this same statistic is about 1,350 pounds per acre and that's all. Now Mexico is cited by many people as the world's classic example of a dual economy and a lot of people make comparisons between Taiwan and Mexico partly because both have a history of development that is about 50 years old. Mexico's farming community is divided between a rather small number of large farms with American style mechanization similar to the farming systems of Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico.

If you cross the border you will find the same style of division in Mexico. For the one­sixth of Mexico's farmers who are involved in this system, things are very good. Productivity is going up and their incomes are going up. All of the things that are supposed to happen in agriculture are happening, for one­sixth of Mexico's farmers. But the other five­sixths, the little farmers, have been mostly left out; and their productivity today is about as low as it was in 1950, when development began. If you know the situation, where there is a small number of fairly efficient large producers and a very large number of low productivity small producers, the national average is going to be quite low.

That's the reason why this food grain statistic, the 1350 pounds for Mexico, is so much lower than in Taiwan. In Taiwan, all the farmers are involved; in Mexico, just some. In relation to the 1350 pounds, in most of the developing countries, food grain productivity is that, or lower. Yet, the technical potential for growing food in most of the countries should make it possible for most of them to reach the 3000 pounds per acre or more, that you find in the rich countries. I believe that the problem has nothing to do with technology. The question is whether the poor are going to be involved, whether they're going to have a chance to improve their own lot in life, and also improve the general situation of their country.

At this point I would like to make a comment about Bangladesh and Taiwan. Bangladesh is often cited as the 'basket case', where nothing can be done. For people who live in a sparsely populated country, this image seems reasonable. Bangladesh is the size of Arkansas and it already has 85 million people. You look at Arkansas and you think about 85 million people and you scratch your head and say, "Heavens!" The birth rate is very high and by the year 2000, Bangladesh could have 170 million people. Well then, you not only scratch your head, you tear your hair out, and say, "What can you do?" Well, if Bangladesh were as densely populated as Taiwan, Bangladesh would have 170 million people, today. More to the point, she would almost, but not quite, feed herself.

Taiwan could feed herself if it were necessary. If this were an academic classroom, there would be a few qualifications on that point, which we can skip for here. The point is that there are a small number of countries in the world which have created what is known in the professional community as Small Farm Labor Intensive Agricultural Systems. In spite of their extraordinarily dense population, they have achieved very high agricultural productivity and can more or less feed themselves. They are Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Egypt to a lesser extent, and also China.

It is quite true to say that the central problem of rural development Is the reconstruction of a village. To rearrange human relationships so that the dependency of the poor on a handful of landlords, regents, or merchants, whomever it is; is broken, so that the great mass of the ordinary people of the villages have a chance to do things for themselves for the first time. ­­That is an incredibly tough problem! This is one which you have learned how to solve, and not very many people in the world have solved it.

In addition, the question of 'linkages' should be mentioned. Barbara Ward defines world development as, "the process of creating linkages between farm village and market town." The first question is, Why do these linkages need to be created? Well, a lot of things that need to be done in a market economy are too big to be done at the village level with any kind of low unit cost. If you sum up the total amount of land which is owned by a village community in India, the total amount of fertilizer the farmers use, the amount of credit they need, the amount of produce which they have to market, by and large, the quantities are too small to handle these business transactions at a low unit cost. This is what the economists call the 'Economy's Scale Argument'. That's a problem all developing countries face, and it's solved simply by grouping villages together into what we would call a township or a county.

One of the things that needs to be done is to handle some of the activities on a village cluster basis with the headquarters of an organization such as the cooperative in the market town. Or certain types of investments such as warehouses or a few simple industries, such as food grain mills, could be located in the market town because they cannot be put in every village. This must be done, or just organizing individual villages won't accomplish much.

Another major problem has to do with the relationship between a village organizational program and governments. One of the things that badly needs to be done in India is to decentralize the government administration, both the national government and the state government. The point at which the government needs to provide services of many kinds to the people is what Americans would call a county. If you look around the world on this point and try to answer a question that most of us wouldn't think of asking, "Where does the central government go, if it really wants to work with the people?" The answer is, almost everywhere, regardless of political system, is the county.

Now, up until recently, nobody paid any attention to local government as a development body. In India, now, there are all kinds of things that the local government can do that will help villages. The local government can provide the whole range of agricultural extension research, credit, medical services, education, and so on. These are services which governments need to provide at the lowest level of the state government, where people who are trained in medicine, in health, in agricultural extension, whatever it may be. The place where they should be grouped together is at what we will call the county level.

Then the problem is, how do you create linkages between that group of people and the village communities. Representatives of the villages, people that are called village extension agents could become the contact point between the agricultural extension agent and the village. When it came time to introduce some new innovation in agriculture - new crop or fertilizer, the job of the extension agent is to work with the one or two individuals who are the representatives of the village, and then it is those people who introduce it to their fellow villagers. Innovation does not come from without, but it can come from within the village if it's brought into the village by villagers, themselves.

There are a few countries where this relationship between the local government, or call it the lowest level field office of the national government, and village organizations has been worked out in great detail, and very successfully. The commune of China represents this kind of relationship. The Township in Taiwan represents the same kind of relationship. The combination of the local government, the farmers' association, the irrigation association, in Taiwan, represent the organizations of the villagers and a whole variety of things are done by the local government. A whole variety of services provided by the local government actually come from the central government of Taiwan.

There is ample experience to draw on to try and solve this problem. Linking villages to a broader community, the state and eventually the net tonal economy, is important to make people know that they are a part of something much bigger than just the little village in which they live. Of course it's the nature of modern society, a modern economy, that this has been done in the so-called rich countries.

Now, I would like to conclude by making a few comments about the United States. Back in 1972 and 1973, I began to work on some domestic problems, with domestic groups, and to my surprise, discovered that there were many similarities between the things I'd been thinking about overseas and things which people were beginning to do here at home. The same kinds of questions that I had been arguing about with experts with respect to the poor countries are now being raised in the United States. For example, "Is big really beautiful?"

There's been some research done on efficiency and the size of firms in the United States. What we are beginning to discover is that, even though an industry can be too small to be efficient, it can also be too large. So 'big' may not always be beautiful, as we've been led to believe. We're also coming to realize that technology is not nearly as inflexible as we were brought up to believe. I was taught that technology was a certain something and you had to use it a certain way or not use it at all. It was big and kept getting bigger and if we wanted to have it, we had to accept it that way. We are now learning that technology is much more flexible than we'd been taught. A while ago, I asked an industrial engineer what he thought about the possibilities of designing things small without any loss of efficiency. He said, "Sure, why not? But you know, nobody has ever asked me to do that." And many people in the United States are now starting to ask that kind of question.

Let me now make one comment on why I talk so much about economists and technical people and professional people. We live in a society that's been highly materialistic and when development and foreign aid began, we took our type of materialism overseas. The key people in this materialistic society happen to be economists, as we all know, and one of the things that dawned on some of us in the sixties was that unless we could beat economists on their own terms we would never win the case for participation of the poor in development. So in effect we said, "We are going to play your game by your rules. On your field, we're the visiting team and we're going to beat you." And we have. We have now demonstrated that small farms can be efficient.

I think these same questions are going to be raised in the United States. We must be able to demonstrate that we can have smaller production units, and smaller markets, in the U.S. and still have a high standard of living. We have to change the conventional wisdom of the establishment, and I'm quite optimistic that within the next five or ten years we'll be able to do just this. And so I now conclude by saying that just as we have recognized the need to reconsider development overseas, and in fact have done it, I think it's now fit and proper that we should reconsider development here at home. Let's turn now to questions and answers.


What they are doing, in a sense, Ts the same thing that American farmers do. They have good seeds. They have access to fertilizer, and they can borrow money. They do all this through their co­op, and they have access to the market so that when the time comes to sell it, they can. The point about Taiwan is that institutions have been used to bring the poor into the modern economy, and the government has used its power when necessary to make sure that the poor would get a certain minimum set of benefits. The two­acre farmer gets his two­acre share of fertilizer just as the 72 acre farmer. That's the maximum farm size in Taiwan.

There is a quotation from Barbara Ward that summarizes the problem implicit in your question.) Barbara Ward is a well known British economist. I sometimes describe her as the 'Queen of Development'. "A market system wholly uncorrected by institutions of justice, sharing, and solidarity makes the strong stronger and the weak weaker. Markets as useful tools in a functioning social order have a positive and decentralizing role to play. Markets, as master of society, enrich the rich and pauperize the poor."

In most countries the larger farmers, for example, as individuals can get a loan. They can contact the government extension agent, and they can sell their stuff at the market. Small farmers can not do these things individually. The reason for the emphasis on what Barbara Ward describes as 'institutions of justice, sharing, and solidarity' is that it is only through institutions that the poor gain access. It is in that sense that Taiwan is a highly participatory country. The institutions, such as the co­op, the irrigation association, and the local government, were set up so that the poor would have access to credit, the market, and technology. Most countries haven't treated development that way.

They have followed the trickle­down approach and simply assumed that if the Gross National Product were going up high enough, everybody would benefit. Then Taiwan has also begun land reform.

Most countries haven't taken land reform seriously. In India, for example, about one­half of the number of farmers or less ­ that even if they were good farmers, they could not make much living out of just one acre. The only way that enough jobs can be created to employ the huge mass of people in India is through some modest amount of land reform. This could happen as it did in Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, and Egypt. These are the four major successful land reform programs since World War Two. It is absolutely not true to say that the problem in India is too many people on too little land. India has about five times as much cultivatable land per person as Taiwan. It also has more cultivatable land per person than most of the countries in Western Europe, more than Egypt, and twice as much as China. It's a question of how government organizes the system and whether it skews the benefits toward the rich and whether everybody gets a certain minimum share.


Some of you may have heard of a very famous world development project that existed in the sixties in what is now called Bangladesh. I consider the man who started it to be the number one authority in the world development. Back in the fifties when he was beginning to reconsider development himself, one of the questions he asked himself was, "If a central government really wants to work with its people, where does it go?" He never met a single Westerner or any other human being who could answer it. In those days, there were people in the AID mission in Pakistan who knew the history of economic development in Western countries, and he would ask them this question and they would just look at him. He found the answer in the history books. He discovered that almost universally the level at which the government and the people meet is the county.

The one exception is that in some of the very crowded countries of East Asia, counties are cut up into four or five pieces ­ what we call a township. Japan, China, and Taiwan are the three. The commune in China is more like what we would call a township than a county, and it is really quite small. The average number of people in a commune, we think, is about twelve to fifteen thousand people. That's not very big.

We need to go back into our own history. Some of our forebearers, particularly Thomas Jefferson, came up with answers which we seem to have forgotten. As Americans, what we have to do is look at our own past to find answers for today's problems. We've all heard in history books of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. It is one of two important statutes passed in the days of the Articles of Confederation. We've been told that this was the law that somehow guarded the opening up of the West. If that law was re­examined in terms of what is now known as regional planning for rural development, we find that Thomas Jefferson was a first class rural development strategist. He outlined the expansion of the West by creating a certain area we call the county seat.

It can also be called the market town in the middle of an area with certain economic, social, educational, and health institutions needed by a rural population. He was creating linkages between farm and village and market town 200 years before Barbara Ward ever wrote down the phrase, 'linkages'. Assuming you have an outline of the problems of a local community and some outside help including some from the government, that's what you do at the county level. And it depends on the local situation to ask for the kinds of services the government can provide.


Nobody really knows the answer to that yet. The high productivity systems are based on oil­based fertilizer, and one of the technical problems of the future is to figure out a new approach or a different type of scientific farming that uses some fertilizer but not the vast quantities we are using now.

Some research is being done on so called organic farming. Basically we don't know the answer to your question. The universities and the agricultural research stations, not only in the U.S. but in other places, ought to be putting far more of their research budgets into alternative farming systems. We've got to find a different approach to high productivity farming.


There is not a great deal to be said about it except that there appears to be a wide variety of industries in which it's possible to design smaller and still be efficient. What you do in any one case depends on the product, the crop, the market, and other things. The people who now hire industrial designers in the U.S. are primarily big business and big government. We need to change that so that more community­oriented people are in the business of hiring industrial designers. Hopefully, these people will be able to come up with mini­factories for many products. There are many factories in a few production processes. There's a mini­sugar refinery that was designed by an Indian that is about 10% the size of our sugar refinery. The British have built a mini­plant, and there's a mint­soap plant in Ghana. These mini­factories designed thus far suggest that there could be hundreds of thousands of possibilities.


Bigness is not a matter of efficiency but of economic power. In the U.S. today there are small groups all over, including people in this room, who are trying to figure out how to provide capital for smaller business. People are beginning to find answers to this problem. As people find answers, we'll begin to find what alternative solution in the U.S. that is possible, and that's when it will start to happen.


There'll be a lot of fuss and furor about it, and they might tighten up the regulations a little. If they do, it will make it harder for the smallest of the small to get a loan than it is now.


The general principle is the same, but I do not think the history of cooperatives in the U.S. as being very helpful as a guide to what ought to be done in developing countries. I think what is known as the Japanese multi­purpose cooperative or the Danish multi­purpose cooperative is a much better model of what might be useful in the countries than what we have in the United States.


It's a two­tiered model and its pattern can be copied. The base unit of a Taiwanese cooperative ­ or one in Japan ­ or in the Chinese rural commune ­ is called by the Taiwanese a small agricultural unit. It is the extended family in the village. If the village is small, the chances are it's just one extended family, and that whole family is the small agricultural unit. In larger villages, there are probably a couple of extended families, so there may be several small agricultural units. This is the traditional social organization. On the one hand you have to maintain the cohesion of it, and on the other hand, you have to change it so that the people at the bottom get a better break in the future than they have had in the past. That unit is then linked to the township ­ the name in Taiwan is the Farmers' Association. The chairman and the deputy chairman of the small agricultural unit belong to what is called the General Assembly of the Township Cooperative. The General Assembly picks out seven people who are Executive Committee for one year ­ what we would call the Board of Directors.

So you have a modern business organizational structure linked into a traditional social structure. To make that combination work is really the trick of development, because you must maintain the integrity of the original village community, and yet you must modernize it and change it without destroying it. These East Asian countries have used this device of the village cluster in putting the formal organization at the cluster level, or the county level, combining that with the traditional village community. That combination is the common pattern where villages are involved.


There has been this not Ton in the United States that small farms were inefficient and that the small farmers are really a labor force for factories. The not Ton that the number of farmers in a country should decline seems almost like a natural law of hi story in the Western world, because that's what happened everywhere. We didn't have to keep people on the farm because we never had a population explosion.

So, I think the whole bias of government policy of American industry has been against the small farmer, from times past, with one exception ­ the Farm Security Administration during the 1930's. But, that didn't last very long and it was regarded, I think by the government and the business and professional community, as a kind of aberration that was necessary at the time of the depression ­ a welfare program, but not an agricultural system. It has not been believed that small farms, American style, ten, twenty, maybe fifty acres, might be efficient and not only provide a decent way of life but a people with a decent income.

In the U.S. now, you find people who are trying to figure out whether it is possible to have an American version of a small farm system. Some work is being done on pumping patterns and mechanization. Obviously, you have to have a very different style of mechanization in the States if we're going to have small farmers that can be efficient. I'm optimistic about the outcome, myself.

I don't think it's that difficult to design gadgets; it's getting them into use that's the tougher problem. There are people like Robert Rodale who publishes "Organic Gardening and Farming". He has a research section up in Pennsylvania and a very good agricultural engineer; they have gone into the business of designing tools and equipment for horticulture. If we have somebody like him to go to work on equipment for 25­50 acre farms, why not as soon as possible? There are other people in the country who are also interested in small farms. A number of companies and a few people in the university community are beginning to depart from the conventional wisdom and are beginning to worry about small farms, but they're very few in number.


Historically, I would say our whole country was like that. Now, I don't think there is such a thing as a model. I don't think it's possible for someone to say, "Go to Vermont or California, and you'll find it." What you will find in Vermont and California and some other places are people who are trying to figure out an alternative pattern. And, they can tell you what they're trying to do and all the problems involved in it. They haven't done it yet, because it's too new.


In general, there is what is known as the Appropriate Technology Community in the United States. Fred Schumacher will tell you that there is more going on in Appropriate Technology in this country than in any country he has ever been. And by now there are hundreds of these organizations all over the country. In fact, part of ICA's work fits in with the Appropriate Technology group. I don't think that you think of yourselves that way, and I'm not suggesting that you do, but the technology that you use even in the U.S. would be our version of Appropriate Technology.


Yes, there are quite a lot. There are more in Scandinavia than anywhere else. The Swedish industrial co­operatives have been around for a long time and are very well known. One of the things that is happening in this country is a search for different patterns of industrial organization management and ownership, and a lot of people are wondering if an industrial co­operative might make sense if it would be more responsive socially than some of the business organizations we have now. It may well be the co­operatives. Theoretically the co­operative is that kind of an organization, and I don't think that there are very many business enterprises in the United States that are owned on a co­operative basis yet.


One movement in the industrial side which I think is fairly well advanced in the States is the Quality of Working Life. It is a first step in different systems of ownership as well as management.

There are a lot of experiments going on in the country to change the hierarchical nature of the industrial labor force. The Volvo automobile that comes from Sweden has dispensed with the assembly line and gone back to a combination of automation and craft work, because the workers simply refused to work on the assembly line any more. Under this label of Quality of Working Life many things are happening which are bringing about a changed relationship between workers and foremen and are trying to take monotony out of work.


In the developing countries, there are quite a few organizations that have a "A.T." label. Some of them are that and nothing else. More commonly you find that university groups, research stations, and sometimes business people simply become interested in Appropriate Technology. At the university in Ghana, for example, something called a technology consultancy center was started by a Ghanaian professor with the help of an Englishman from London. It has now become the biggest and the best Appropriate Technology organization in Africa. It is so big that it is beginning to get into the business of industrial extension. That's a tough area to deal with.

Most of the money that we spend will go to those organizations to help their staff do research work, support operations, programs, and pilot programs. A couple of other things will be involved that are very important. In some fields we don't have the Appropriate Technology. The problem is not so much not investigative research but adaptive research. Can we take a skill that Ts used in Norway, adapt it and put it in India? There is going to be a great deal of design and field testing work like this particularly in the fields of alternative energy and food processing. There is tremendous technology available in food processing and probably a number of different aspects of health ­ the kind of health programs that ICA is encouraging.

A third function would be one that would be a major activity, but not a lot of money, is to strengthen the linkages in the Appropriate Technology community. There is something you can refer to in the world today as the A.T. community. It needs more money and some of our expertise in information systems so the people in one country can find out who in the world is working on something and contact them. Strengthening the network about. he world would be a major function of ­ Appropriate Technology International.


Through the years India has tried every wrong way that there is to get the villagers involved in development. By now, nobody is more fed up than the villagers themselves. They are skeptical that anybody can come in from the government and say they want to help you. They have just gone through this last year and a half of the so­called national emergency.

One aspect of that was the sterilization program that antagonized people. Unexpectedly, they had a chance to change the government, and they did it. This has given people a feeling of hope that perhaps they have a chance this time where they haven't before.

If somebody comes along and says, "I can show you how to do it", and shows them how they can work together and do things they have not done in the past, they could do it. One of the major problems in the country is that government officials don't know how to talk to villagers. The typical civil servant, or someone who works in a foreign aid agency cannot go out and talk to a village. He wouldn't have the slightest idea what to talk about. But, you people can show government officials how to talk to villagers. Three fourths of the government officials are quite willing to work more cooperatively with villages if they knew how to do it. But they quite honestly don't know how. So, I think the combination of the circumstance in India and your proven capacity is sort of a favorable conjunction of events.


I don't think the centralization of administration has much impact on anything unless it is combined with participation. What you describe could be helpful only if the Federal government and State government rejuvenate and invigorate local government. The future of democracy in this country is mostly a matter of trying to figure out the forms of urban local government, because we are an urbanized population and we are going to continue to be. This is why I attach so much importance to Ivy City in Washington and Fifth City in Chicago. What they are to me is local government of the future. That's what they ought to be. I was amused when I was at Ivy City talking to some of the people there about the relationships with the D.C. government. It sounded exactly like what the villagers have told me about the government in their countries ­ no difference at all.