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Week '99 main page
24 - 26 March, Westfields Conference Center, Virginia
Briefing for 25 March

In Plenary on Thursday morning, Alex McCalla, Rural Development Department Director, officially opened Rural Week and noted trends that are necessitating political rather than technical or economic decisions for rural development, including privatization, globalization, decentralization and trade liberalization. Francisco Aguirre-Sacasa, Ambassador of Nicaragua to the US, delivered the keynote address on politics and the development agenda. He defined politics as the struggle between interest groups or individuals for power and leadership, and characterized politics as a competition for power through the use of wealth, social prestige, ideas and alliances. He underscored one political rule - "the poorer you are, the weaker you are and the better you understand power politics." Ambassador Aguirre-Sacasa stressed that development practitioners must factor politics into their work, recognize that the World Bank is an agent of change and provide the best professional advice available. He noted the powerful role of the Bank as an idea disseminator and emphasized the importance of having a clear objective and strategy, and of understanding local cultures and power structures. He cautioned against "going native," blind alliances and "knocking" the elite.

Throughout the day, Rural Week participants met in parallel sessions to hear presentations and hold discussions on an array of topics, including the political aspects of decentralized and community based program implementation, the results of privatization, access to land, the political dimensions of rural poverty, empowering farmers by supporting producers organizations, agriculture education and access to water. In the evening, Norman Borlaug, Nobel Laureate and Father of the Green Revolution, addressed participants and provided a brief history of agricultural research in the US and its extension to other countries from the 1940s to today. Through cultivation and selection of crop varieties and application of fertilizers, a process of maximizing crop yields was developed and such "green technology" exported to developing countries in the 1960s. Borlaug highlighted his work with Sasakawa-Global 2000, an agricultural extension program in Africa designed to assemble data on plant varieties, soil fertility, moisture and other agricultural information to provide developing countries.

Photo and RealAudio highlights

Opening plenary

RealAudio of the speech by H.E. Francisco Aguirre-Sacasa, Ambassador of Nicaragua to the US, during the Opening plenary session.

Parallel session: "Results of Privitization"

John Nellis, Senior Manager at PSD.
Joel Joffre from Hydro Agri International (Paris)
Alan Reade, Rhone-Poulenc Agro (Paris)

Parallel session: "Political Aspects of Decentralized and Community Based Program Implementation"

RealAudio exerpts of the presentation by Norman Uphoff, Director of the International Institute for Food, Agriculture and Development at Cornell University.

Special interview

Short RealAudio interview with Ian Johnson, Vice-President of ESSD. Mr. Johnson is shown here with SD writer Lynn Wagner.

Parallel session: "Towards Sustainable Intensification: The Farmer's Perspective"

Dr. Thomas Francis Shaxton of the Association for Better Land Husbandry
Manolo Pereira, Brazilian farmer and no-till specialist.

Parallel session: "Access to Land and Poverty Alleviation"

Klaus Deininger, DECRG

Parallel session: "Enabling Women's Participation in the Development Process: Politics or Policy?"

Lynn Brown, RDV
Gita Gopal, AFTH4
Carmen Diana Deere, University of Massachusetts.


Jason Jacques Paiement, ESSD, demonstrates the use of one of the World Bank's many on-line databases to meeting participants.

Special Speaker

After the presentation, all in attendance helped Mr. Borlaug celebrate his 85th birthday.

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