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Wednesday, 24 August 1983
Page: 249

Question No. 110

Mr Mountford asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 10 May 1983:

Further to my question No. 5277 placed on the notice paper on 14 October 1982 concerning the Australian Aid program in the Samar region of The Philippines, (a ) does the program rely on fertilisers, pesticides, new varieties of crops and more complicated technology; if so (i) why and (ii) what damage, if any, is done in the long term to the soil by the use of such farming techniques, (b) will the increased use of technology lead to less farm employment, (c) is the aim of the agricultural developments to increase crops for export in preference to increasing local food production, (d) can he indicate (i) how the subsistence farmers can afford to pay for these developments and (ii) whether subsistence farmers could be squeezed off their land by this program, (e) which pesticides, if any, are used in this program, (f) have any studies been done on (i) possible damage by pesticides to agricultural workers, especially those in rice fields, ( ii) the effects of any pesticides and fertilisers on fish and bird life and (iii ) the effect of the agricultural use of pesticides and fertilisers on existing livestock, and (g) can he indicate (i) what type and tonnage of vehicles are carring the agricultural supplies and produce on the road network, and (ii) what are the specifications of the roads.

Mr Hayden —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(a) The project has inter-related programs directed to small farmers covering the development of improved cropping and livestock systems, the supply of better services to the farmers (including extension, soil analysis and marketing), and a program to train farmers and technicians and encourage self-supporting community institutions. The cropping system program draws on technology currently available in the Philippines and varifies it for the Northern Samar physical, social and economic environment. The cropping program includes the use of fertilisers and chemicals, introduction of improved farm management practices (including better cropping patterns and soil management), and provision of improved small farm equipment (such as water buffalo-drawn plows).