Developing countries must implement policy and institutional changes as well as technological advances if they are to find long term solutions to hunger, experts told a crowd of 150 last night at the Kennedy School.
Maurice Williams, executive director of the World Food Council, called attention to India's success in becoming almost self-sufficient in terms of food supply. He later added that hunger remains a critical problem in Africa.
Africa will have to modernize its agriculture and address intrinsic problems such as its recurring drought in order to become self-reliant, Williams said. "Those countries in Africa that don't make it will be recolonized," he said.
Williams said that food aid to Africa has been life-saving but may now be undercutting that continent's own agricultural incentive.
"Unfortunately, long-term goals are often overshadowed by short term emergencies," said Charles Greenlief Jr., a U.S. Agency for International Development (U.S. AID) official.
Greenlief, who spoke on behalf of Rep. Mickey Leland (D-Texas), who chairs the House Committee on Hunger and Nutrition, stressed U.S. AID's and the Reagan administration's emphasis on private enterprise in development.
Leland was unable to leave Washington to attend the panel discussion.
"Reliance on the magic of the market place" and "profit incentives for farmers" are critical to Africa's progress, Greenlief said.
One spectator challenged Greenlief, saying that America was engaging in "neo-colonialism" by offering assistance to developing countries "only on our free-market terms."
Greenlief responded that "much of our aid is going to the poorest of countries, regardless of their policy situation." However, citing Uganda as one country where American assistance has not been extremely productive, Greenlief said a country must be responsive to help for change to come about.
"The impulse for change must come from within these countries. Otherwise we are just horsing around," Greenlief said.
Yesterday's panel discussion was the third of a year-long series on problems in developing countries, sponsored by the Harvard-Radcliffe Development Forum.
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