Few people attending this conference have ever visited a developing country, let alone worked in one. Used as we are to the cosseted environment of the developed world, we take much for granted. A few statistics from the World Development Report (1983) will perhaps bring home to you the contrast between the developed and developing world (Table 1). For example, adult literacy may be low (26 per cent in Bangladesh); there are exceptions to this, as in Tanzania where literacy has reached 79 per cent, partly a result of Unesco's experimental World Literacy Programme and partly due to that country's own specific literacy projects. A good indication of the standard of living and general prosperity is the GNP per head: this is US$140 in Bangladesh, but $2,220 in Brazil and $10,080 in Japan. The lower the GNP per head, the greater is the dependence on agriculture. In Malaysia, three‐quarters of the population are associated with agriculture. Worldwide, 700 million of the ‘absolutely poor’ live in rural areas; 280 million farm one hectare or less, mostly on land that is dependent on natural rainfall.
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