Much of the world goes hungry because farmers and farm workers are a neglected majority. Even in the United States, 40 percent of our poor live in rural areas, although only one-quarter of the population is rural. But in underdeveloped countries three-fourths of the population live off the land. To reverse a biblical maxim: the laborers are plentiful but the harvest is few.
A revolution of attitudes toward agriculture and changes in its practice are needed. Farmers living on a subsistence level or barely above it understandably resist change, when one miscalculation can destroy the thin security which their traditional habits insure. Paul E. Johnson, Operations Division Chief of the Office of Food for Peace, relates this experience:
When I was in Afghanistan 15 years ago, we tried to get the farmers to advance from the sickle to the scythe. A team of three Austrians worked at it for four years; a very capable young Swiss farm-tools technician with FAO spent two years on the project. After all this the Afghan farmer continued to use the sickle. Using the scythe he could cut as much wheat in an hour as he could