RURAL AGROINDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT IN AFRICA
Hi, I am Dr. Carol Cross. I want to start a debate on rural versus urban
development in Africa. I would like to have feedback on the Rural
AgroIndustrial Center (RAIC) model of development described below.
Q: Why is there rural migration to urban areas ?
Every day, more and more poverty stricken peasants and campesinos, landless
and on worn out lands, leave their homes in the rural areas of the tropics
and migrate to the cities seeking a better way of life. There are schools in
the urban areas and caring parents fight their way to the cities in the hope
of a better way of life for their children, only to succumb to the numbing
destructiveness of the cities. Usually they find greater poverty, disease,
crime, prostitution and a wide variety of social ills in the shantytown they
develop at the edge of great cities. Most of them never find work. Their
children are increasingly discarded (there are over 150,000,000 street
children in the world today). The World Bank and other aid organizations
develop project after project in urban areas offering technical assistance
Q: What is the answer that I propose to this problem?
Develop the rural areas so that people will not have to leave to find work
and "a better way of life"?" I propose that we need models for profitable
rural development that could create "a better way of life" in the rural
areas of the world. These projects for development should stand on their
own, be sustainable, and must be business-focused projects.
Q: What is a Rural AgroIndustrial Center, or RAIC, which is my proposed new
approach to or paradigm for rural economic development?
A RAIC is a community-based Rural AgroIndustrial Center (RAIC) which is a
large-scale (low-tech, intermediate-tech or high-tech) integrated rural
development project. It is based on transforming traditional agricultural
crop raw materials , agricultural and forestry wastes, as well as new crops
such as kenaf into value added products in the local area before they enter
the marketplace. This new approach to develop agroindustry in rural areas
is designed to drive economic recovery and development locally.
Q: What does business have to do with development?
Without a return on investment, a project based only on donor input will
falter should such input be unavailable. Therefore, while RAICs could and
should involve a public/private partnership, it should be so structured that
within a few years, the project will be profitable.
Q: Won't the need for donor organizations diminish?
There are needs in developing countries that are not being met. Donor funds
will be made available for additional RAICs which conceivably could be
needed in every agricultural region of a 50 mile radius.
Q: How will the RAICs grow if donor organizations pull out?
Investment will flow to these projects if they are profitable from within
the country as well as from international sources. Once it is seen to
provide a strong return on investment, RAICs will become the investment of
choice and capital flight may become a thing of the past in some countries.
Such projects must be profitable or they are not "sustainable". Nothing can
be sustained that does not return more to the effort than is inputted.
Q: How does the local rural area benefit from a RAIC?
The activities of a RAIC can serve as a focal point for economic development
in the community and be the community's key to maintaining agriculture as
the mainstay of the economy. It creates jobs for local people, develops and
supports local infrastructure and community projects such as schools and
strengthens the community's pride and self esteem. A RAIC can serve as the
beginning of a local industrial park. A RAIC will develop a products using
the new/ "old" crop kenaf as a profit center. It will enable local farmers
to sell their agroresidues instead of burning them. The RAIC can create a
business education partnership in the community. RAIC staff can develop
mentoring programs for local youth. A RAIC can serve as a conduit for
technology transfer and training programs. A RAIC can generate wealth and
involve ownership by all segments of the community through sale of stock. A
RAIC, as it adds modules, will provide a training ground for lifelong
learning for local people
Q. Why are the RAICs established in rural areas?
Farming communities tend to be small in population and have a wide dispersal
due to large land parcels required for farming. In order to create
industries from the farmers' production, a central processing area is
required. Here low value raw materials including agroresidues such as
bagasse and cereal straws combined with newly directed crops such as kenaf,
Reed canary grass, Crotalaria, and Leucaena can be brought in for
processing. In order for this processing area to succeed in meeting the
needs of rural economic development, the RAIC will need to be centrally
located in an agricultural area so that it will be economic to haul
materials to it.
Q: How can RAICs be established in rural areas?
A RAIC is a business enterprise that consists of a consortium of land
owners, farmers, entrepreneurs, researchers, state and national government
agencies, in-country and/ or international investors. It involves
coordination of planning, investing, supplies, building, training,
production, packaging and marketing.
Q: How can a RAIC fit the needs of the area?
RAICs can be structured so that the developing entity can select or choose
the Modules they desire. They select the ones that fit the area's
resources, needs and interests. The RAIC will then be in a position to
profitably produce agribased products from alternative crops like kenaf,
Reed canary grass and Crotalaria, which can easily be grown in the tropics,
combined with agricultural wastes such as sugar cane bagasse and rice, wheat
and other cereal straws.
Q: What kinds of modules are suggested?
Most of the suggestions I make involve combining kenaf with agroresidues
such as rice straw, wheat straw, sugar cane bagasse and/ or forest wastes
but they can also involve other crops.
Some suggested modules include but are not limited to: a kenaf plantation;
low tech livestock feed; a kenaf separation plant (core from stem fiber);
fuel briquettes; ecologically sound field and tree crop production of
foodstuffs (such as sweet sorghum and Leucaena nitrogen-fixing trees);
ecologically sound food processing ; nonwood paper; building materials;
reforestation center; reclamation center; sustainable logging and certified
forest products; production of organic fertilizers and soil amendments; the
SAMEI(TM) Strategy for natural cosmetics/ perfume industry development;
canewood products from bamboo, rattan, florals and handicrafts, aquaculture
projects, bagged silage system, feed pelletizing plant, kenaf remediation
products, kenaf fabrics, essential oils, industrial plant derived oils, and
Integrated Farming systems.
Q: Does a RAIC meet sound business practices?
* It is easy to get a project started; low-tech modules include a
cut-and-carry system to feed livestock to replace cutting of the Rain
Forests for grazing cattle.
* A RAIC can begin with one or two modules and increase in capacity as
investment and local expertise develop, using resources from the first
module to begin the second and following ones
* It has multiple projects to spread the risk
* It can be developed at many levels and from many entry points
* It can select products that have a wide growing marketplace
* It can create products that are marketable at more that one level of
production such as raw materials, basic processing, secondary processing,
high tech processing
* It can select processes for end products with either small scale or large
* There is already much ongoing research on production, processing and
utilization of the kenaf and other plant products in universities and by
Q: Does a RAIC meet environmental parameters?
RAICs are not only designed to be economically sustainable, but they are
based on sustainable agriculture, sustainable forestry and ecological
balance. The term I have developed to describe this gestalt approach is
* RAICs are based on renewable resources (agroresidues, perennial and annual
plants as well as fast growing nitrogen fixing trees; only plantation trees
would be harvested and reforestation would be part of the plan)
* They are based on a balance of plant and animal species
* Environmentally friendly products are selected
* Green (sustainable) products are selected; e.g. replacing firewood by
making briquets using kenaf and agroresidues
* Raw materials such as kenaf, that are acceptable or adaptable to local
growing conditions without greenhouses, etc., are combined with agroresidues
Q: Why is kenaf specifically chosen for RAICs?
Kenaf has high protein content and is succulent haylage at 60-80 days.
Cattlemen are seeking environmentally sound crops that can be profitable.
And that is why local cattlemen as well as cattlemen all over the tropics
are looking at kenaf. Kenaf adds value to the agroresidues such as wheat
straw, rice straw, rice hulls, etc. These agroresidues are presently being
produced in large numbers in the tropics. Up to now most of them are being
burned or otherwise disposed of, creating environmental problems. By adding
kenaf to agroresidues a high quality livestock feed can be produced. Kenaf
at 120 days has less protein but excellent fiber for nonwood paper and
fabrics. Long term industrial developments for kenaf are being explored by
researchers. This research will expand the profit centers based on kenaf.
Potential industrial uses for kenaf include a livestock feed pelletizing
mill, building materials, cloth for clothing and bags, paper pulp, litter,
oil absorbent, fertilizer and many more.
EcoAgroForestry based rural community development (RAICS) can spur local
economic development in agricultural areas while reducing the public's
growing environmental concerns. RAIC products offer safer and more
responsible alternatives to nondegradable plastics, fossil fuels, and
nonrecyclable materials. And the best part is, these RAIC products may not
only alleviate depressed economics, and lessen human impact on land and
water but also may offer a wide range of profitable opportunities to
farmers, researchers, entrepreneurs and investors.
Q: Are RAICs limited to agroindustry plants?
A RAIC may include on 100+ hectares, a satellite feeder project. It may
include 50+ hectares of kenaf; a market garden; 10+ hectares of Papaya
trees; 10+ hectares communal tropical fruit orchard; 25+ equity sharing
houses -low income built from local materials with no down payment in
exchange for each one mentoring one street child (rural development includes
bringing children off the city streets and garbage dumps back into a
community, into a productive and potentiating environment); communal housing
for 100 street children; a NatureTourism project; a Community Center with
communal cafeteria and day care center; a small business and artisan
incubator and computer center with access to the Internet with rental of
space and time for using equipment by residents to develop small scale
If you are interested in how to participate in the development of a RAIC,
contact Dr. Cross at Innovative EcoAgroForestry Technologies, Inc., Post
Office Box 5208, Pine Bluff, AR 71611 USA
FAX 501-367-8736; FAX 501-367-6127; EMAIL [log in to unmask]
YOU CAN PROFIT FROM A RAIC!
About Dr. Carol Cross: Dr. Cross is a native of Monticello, Arkansas. She
grew up on a small scale subsistence farm, using animal powered tools and
implements. Some of the activities she gained expertise in was land
clearing, plowing, cultivating, harvesting, haying, livestock care (cattle,
pigs, goats, horses and mules, ducks, geese). She helped with horse
logging and learned how to farm as a small scale subsistence farmer, using
organic methods, manure and no pesticides.
She taught school in the Chicago Public Schools for 4 years then attended
Oregon State University. She entered a doctoral program at the University
of Oregon in Ecology and earned a doctorate in Biology in 1975, with an
emphasis in theoretical plant population ecology. She then taught at the
University of Oregon. Afterwards she traveled to Honduras and worked with
campesinos and Indians teaching agricultural skills, living there about 8
years. She also served as a Mined Land Reclamation Specialist with the New
York State Department of Environmental Conservation .
She resumed small scale farming in Arkansas and has spent about 10 years
formulating EcoAgroForestry, a new paradigm of development based on
sustainable agriculture, sustainable forestry and rural agroindustrial
development. Through her group the EcoAgroForestry Trade and Development
Center (EAFTDC) she is sponsoring a conference called the WesHemisphere
Century Conference to be held in October 1997 in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
It is focusing on sharing methods for creating new systems for rural
community development based on rural industrial development through
sustainable use of agricultural and forestry resources combined with kenaf.
She is pioneering the use of kenaf for tropical livestock feed. One
project presently underway in the EAFTDC is the development of a small,
portable machine for kenaf decortification.
She is presently writing several books, a) "The EcoAgroForestry Century"
and b) "Kenaf and AgroResidues for Rural AgroIndustrial Development", which
should be available in September at the conference. Plans are underway to
start a school for those wanting to create EcoAgroForestry Village Business
Incubators (VBI) in the tropics. The school is to be placed in Honduras in
By the end of August, 1996, the EcoAgroForestry internet network will be
started with Dr. Cross's home page up on World Wide Web on RAICs as well as
the EcoAgroForestry (EAF) mailing list. To join, email Dr. Cross at
[log in to unmask] and request to suscribe to EAF-L.
Dr. Cross says, "Because of my wide rural and city experiences both in
developing countries and the USA, my focus on rural agroindustrial
development is deliberate. Farmers in tropical countries took a beating
last year from the commodity prices they received for their crops. It's
time for a change, for tropical farmers to begin developing value-added
Despite the long history of low production in many tropical countries,
people are beginning to come together around the concept of rural
agroindustrial development and Rural AgroIndustrial Centers (RAICs) in
particular. The EcoAgroForestry Trade and Development Center is
participating in three tropical RAICS right now.
For example in Costa Rica, we are creatking the LonDres RAIC, focused on
ecotourism. In Honduras we are creating the HondRAIC based on producing
sudan graass and kenaf based livestock feed for export. In Mexico we are
just beginning negotiation to put together the VERACRUZ RAIC, to be based on
tropical fruits and kenaf pulp production
We are working with many people, both AfroHeritage, Indian and Caucasian
are banding together to create a new model for rural development called
Rural AgroIndustrial Centers (RAICs). The idea of RAICs here in the
tropics, where farmers can process their raw materials and create products
that can be sold in local, national and on world markets makes sense to
them. This RAIC movement is being spearheaded by Dr. Carol Cross, Director
of the EcoAgroForestry Trade and Development Center (EAFTDC).
Copyright 1996 Dr. Carol Cross
Dr. Carol Cross, EcoAgroForestry Trade and Development Center (EAFTDC), P O
Box 398, Parma, MI 49269. Phone 501-367-8736. FAX 501-367-8736. email
[log in to unmask]
Will green businesses dot the EarthHome, contributing to LifeKind,
maintaining the integrity of the LifeForms on the EarthHome? You are the
answer. You make the decision when you join the EcoAgroForestry Century.
Carol Cross, Ph.D. EcoAgroForestry Founder
Email: [log in to unmask] Phone & FAX: 501-367-8736.
P O Box 398, Parma, MI 49269
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