Contents - Previous - Next

This is the old United Nations University website. Visit the new site at


Nutrition and Development. Edited by Margaret R. Biswas and Per Pinstrup-Andersen. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, and the United Nations University, Tokyo, 1985. 190 pp.

This book grew out of the work of the IUNS Committee on Economic Policy and Human Nutrition and, more specifically, a planning meeting convened at the International Food Policy Research Institute in 1980. The material presented in this relatively slim volume is eclectic and of somewhat uneven quality.

In the first chapter, Philip Payne examines the nature of malnutrition and how perceptions of the problem -and possible solutions-have changed during the last few decades. David Norse then considers resource and technology issues in terms of their nutritional implications, concentrating on agriculture, land tenure, production inputs, and R&D. Per Pinstrup-Andersen has provided a comprehensive analysis of the processes that influence or determine the nutrition effects of shifts from semi-subsistence food production to export-crop production. Pasquale Scandizzo and 1. Tsakok consider the industrial/urban bias of food-pricing policies in most developing countries and argue that it reflects the view that industrialization is the key to economic development and that agriculture should play a supportive and secondary role. Eileen Kennedy and Odin Knudsen review the primary factors associated with successful supplementary feeding programmes, including the amount of food available, food quality and type, duration of feeding, timing of supplementation, nutritional status of recipients, and extent of targeting. Margaret Biswas argues that food aid must be carefully targeted in low-income, food-deficit countries to reach the poorest segments of the population, particularly in the rural areas. Peter Lamptey and Fred Sai consider the need for integrated nutrition, health, and population programmes and discuss primary health care as an example of an integrated approach. The volume concludes with two country case studies: one on India, contributed by Asok Mitra, and the other on Indonesia, provided by Selo Soemardjan.

While few of the authors have broken new intellectual ground in this collection, the more interesting articles include those by Norse, Payne, Pinstrup-Andersen, and Kennedy and Knudsen. The volume is dedicated, quite appropriately, to Dr. Nevin S. Scrimshaw, who not only was responsible for the original development of these papers while president of the IUNS but also was one of the earliest and strongest advocates of a multisectoral approach to nutrition and development. The book should be of interest to social policy-makers and planners and to academics in nutrition, health care, and related fields.

- Mitchel B. Wallerstein

Accelerating Food Production in Sub-Saharan Africa. Edited by J.W. Mellor, C.L. Delgado, and M.J. Blackie. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Md., USA, 1986. 448 pp.

In sub-Saharan Africa, per capita food production has continued to decline throughout the past two decades. The population is projected to swell by 86 per cent before the end of the century. The recent catastrophe in Ethiopia is an extreme example of deep underlying problems- 24 countries faced food crises in 1984 and 1985. Clearly, accelerating food production is the most critical challenge confronting the region today.

This volume is an authoritative account of the interactions of agricultural technology and policy in African development. Most urgently, Africa must produce much of the food necessary to feed its growing population, but agriculture will also be a cruicial component in long-run growth and stability through its effects on such factors as employment and foreign exchange. This work provides a comprehensive assessment of food production in the region, with an approach both diagnostic and prescriptive. Contributors include scholars, researchers, and senior government officials from Africa in addition to specialists from donor countries and international aid organizations.

Several important themes that emerge help to define the problem and solutions: The existing technologies in Africa are inadequate for the necessary increase in agricultural productivity, and technological improvement is a difficult but fundamental requirement. African governments must play a major role, especially in financing growth and developing basic infrastructure. Foreign aid has a mixed record and it must be made much more effective. Most significantly, priorities must be determined and co-ordinated. The book proposes a specific set of programmes for African governments and assistance agencies.

Leaf Protein and Its By-products in Human and Animal Nutrition. N.W. Pirie et al. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 1987.

This is an updated and extensively revised second edition of Leaf Protein and Other Aspects of Fodder Fraction, published in 1978. The fibrous character and flavour of leaf crops impede their use as green vegetables for human consumption. The possibilities of separating a fraction for use as human food with the residue for animal feeding are discussed. In some climates, this can yield more edible protein than other forms of agriculture.

Since the previous edition there has been increased experience in efforts to apply fodder fraction to make available a protein source for human feeding and to demonstrate uses for the residue. The colour and flavour of LPC as well as the cost and technical nature of the process continue to be barriers to its acceptance, although some species produce a blander product than the commonly used lucerne (alfalfa). In addition, it cannot be used in baked foods because of enhanced flavour due to the breakdown of lipids. Unfortunately, fewer than two pages of text are devoted to acceptable food uses of the product.

The high nutritional value of the protein and vitamin A activity of LPC are well documented. Commercial production of LPC is indicated for Hungary, Japan, Denmark, Italy, Spain, and the USSR, but no information is given on cost or on the nature and use of the product. Presumably it is marketed as a "health food." This book provides a great deal of useful information on LPC, but it is disappointing that despite years of intensive effort and many trials, no sustained or economically successful production in a developing country could be reported. Its potential to contribute to human diets seems to be blocked under present circumstances by problems of cost and acceptability relative to more conventional foods, factors that have also been responsible to an even greater degree for the failure of single-cell protein (SCP) from yeasts, bacteria, and filimentous microfungi to make a significant contribution to human nutrition in developing countries. - N.S.

Global Aspects of Food Production. Edited by M.S. Swaminathan. International Rice Research Institute, Manila, 1986. 460 pp., paperback. US$4.30 plus airmail (US$7.00) or surface-mail (US$2.00) postage.

There is an abundance of global food stocks, which reached nearly 300 million tons by late 1985. Thus pockets of plenty and scarcity coexist in different part of the would. Ironically several countries that now face acute food scarcity are also those where the domestication of plants and animals took place ago and are important centres of origin and diversity of crop plants. Why do such countries face difficulties on the food front? Global Aspects of Food Production seeks to clarify such issues. Knowledgeable scientists discuss the multifacted nature of the agricultural production process, describing problems and needs as well as potentials and opportunities. This book provides information relevant to the promotion of an international agricultural system based on principles of ecology, efficiency, and equity.

Development and Spread of High-Yielding Rice Varieties in Developing Countries. Dana G. Dalrymple. USAID, 1986, 110 pp., paperback. Available from International Rice Research Institute, Manila. US$12.30 plus airmail (US$3.00) or surface-mail (US $ 1.00) postage.

This is the seventh edition of a publication formerly titled "The Development and Spread of High-Yielding Varieties of Wheat and Rice in the Less Developed Nations," which has long been considered one of the most comprehensive and authoritative references on the adoption of semi-dwarf varieties. The sixth edition was published in 1978.

The author, Dr. Dana G. Dalrymple, is agricultural economist, US Department of Agriculture, on detail to the Bureau of Science and Technology, US Agency for International Development (USAID). Dr. Dalrymple serves as research adviser with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR ).

USAID published the book and has provided a stock for IRRI distribution. A companion volume on wheat is available from the Bureau of Science and Technology, USAID, Washington, D.C. 20533, USA.

Contents - Previous - Next