National Geographic : 1975 Jul
surpassed by farmers in Japan, Egypt, and Taiwan, and equaled by Korea's." * The example of Taiwan. This Switzerland size island of 16 million people has written an Asian success story that provides a possible pattern for other developing nations. "And they did it largely with ingenuity and hard work," notes Dr. Chandler, whose vegeta ble center is on the island. Burdened in the 1950's by soaring popula tion and demand for food, the Taiwanese turned their economy around so dramatically that by 1965 U. S. aid was no longer needed, and the population was being stabilized. They attribute their miracle to a blend of elements: drastic land reform that harnessed the incentive of private ownership; universal education, including a vigorous family planning program; farm cooperatives to provide credit, fertilizers, and marketing; balanced industrial growth. The farming I saw on Taiwan is a precision process: rows of young plants intercropped between others now ripening; four and five crops from the same land in a single year; yields among the highest in the world. * Building emergency food reserves. "And let them gather all the food of those good years that come..." said Joseph unto Pharaoh, "and that food shall be for store . . . against the seven years of famine... ." Just such a "Genesis strategy" came out of the U.N. World Food Conference that met last year in Rome. As a result, international machinery is being put in motion to organize emergency stockpiles to help needy nations. No one underestimates the thorny political questions involved. Who contributes to the stockpiles? How much? Where should they be located? Who controls access, decrees how much shall be withdrawn, and when? Despite such obstacles, experts concur on the need for continuing action. "Unless the food problem is dealt with, and rather prompt ly," warns Sterling Wortman, "nation after nation will be shaken by political turmoil." Similarly, Dr. Borlaug foresees famine-torn nations "disintegrating into chaos," with Bangladesh, India, Egypt, and Indonesia possibly succumbing "by the end of the present decade." Perhaps FAO economist Robert Tetro offers the best response to the challenge of feeding humankind: "It shall be done," he believes, "because it must be done." 0 A.D. 2000 6.5 BILLION? NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC ART DIVISION Stirrings of new life pulse in the ear of a UNICEF nurse (facing page) attending an Indian woman near Lucknow. Three chil dren-survivors of six prior pregnancies watch from the doorway. Already faced with 613 million mouths to feed, India could see her population double in 30 years-a rate paralleled by most of the poorer nations. Many food experts believe the world has only two or three decades in which to bring population growth (above) under control before it hopelessly exceeds the limits of food production.