In the last two chapters I sketched a way out of hunger and poverty unified around agriculture and postulated on a number of reforms. It may sound simple on paper. In reality the way out is exceedingly difficult. It can only work if heroic efforts by the underdeveloped countries are combined with expanding opportunities for equitable trade and greater economic asistance, both of which depend on a generous response from the rich nations.
Trade, not aid, is by far the most important type of economic transaction between rich and poor nations. It is unfortunate that while the volume of exports has increased for the poor nations, their share in world exports shrank from 31 percent in 1950 to 17 percent in 1971. Underdeveloped countries pay, by their own exports, for the vast majority of imports which are vital to their economic growth. The Pearson commission observed that "growth rates of individual developing countries since 1950 correlate better with their export performance than with any other single economic indicator." So crucial is trade to those countries that aid, by comparison, has been called a "soft option."