Types of Rural Economy: Studies in World Agriculture

Types of Rural Economy: Studies in World Agriculture

Types of Rural Economy: Studies in World Agriculture

Types of Rural Economy: Studies in World Agriculture

Excerpt

This book is the work of an agronomist who has indulged his interest in economic problems in moments of leisure from his professional work, but too late in life to have acquired a really profound knowledge of them. Our starting-point was in 1934 when, speaking from the tribune of the Senate, President Caillaux declared that the efforts of agricultural technologists had had the nefarious result of 'surfeiting the market'. When, in the following year, in October 1935, the Laval decrees did away with the Offices agricoles in the departments, which had pursued the cause of progress too efficiently, our interest became fully aroused.

If these assertions were true, then surely it was also necessary to abolish agricultural teaching, and every agronomist with the welfare of his country at heart should have looked for another career. Moreover, we had ourselves witnessed the famine in Northern Annam in the autumn of 1931 and seen the unsold consignments of rice piling up on the wharves at Saigon while the authorities refused to succour the famished, thus sowing the seeds of the recent conflict. As early as February 1934 we were unable to pass without comment a proposal put forward by the Association of Wheat Producers in France, which suggested that the 'surplus' rice in Cochin-China should be bought up, like Brazilian coffee, and dropped into the sea. This noble grain, all too scarce in the bowl of the Tonkinese peasant, hindered the marketing of coarse grains at a 'fair' price when it was poured into our pig troughs and fed to our calves and our poultry. Only wheat, the vine, and sugar-beet, which were all being over-produced, were well protected, and this served to aggravate the lack of balance in French agricultural production. Confronted with such a situation, the agricultural specialist unwilling to give up his work was forced to seek other solutions.

In this book we have made a rapid perusal of a few of the types of agricultural practice to be found in various parts of the world. The examples studied are an arbitrary selection, as we have dealt with those regions which we have actually visited. We have never been able to understand a system of agriculture without seeing it for ourselves, and . . .

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