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STORY TEN Confusing Stakes South Asia, 1991 143 “Damn these flies. Time after time I’ve told these guys the fruit has to be clean before it’s put on the drying trays. They still don’t get it!” “But that’s the way they’ve always dried them. They like the way they taste, flies and all; why should they change?” “Because if they want to make some goddam money for a change, they’ve got to get with the program. They have to compete. They think these crappy apricots are wonderful! Try selling ’em down country. Try exporting them. Ha! No way.” Malcolm is a horticulturist. He has been seconded to the government agriculture ministry to work on this project. IFAD is paying for him to be here, a high salary even by his own standards, tax free in Malcolm’s home country, Canada. Plus he gets home leave every eight months, the full cost of housing, and a hardship differential of 20 percent. This last is because of the project’s remote location in the foothills of the Himalayas . He’s been up here almost two years, and his contract calls for one more. Ben can see how frustrated he is. Ben knows Malcolm is right about the apricots, but he wonders if it matters. “Well, they sure look pretty, though. All those round flat baskets filled with yellow apricots, lying out on the rooftops to dry in the sun. I wish I could take a picture of them from the air. . . . But look at the time, Malcolm . Let’s go back to the office; we’ll be late for the planning meeting.” BenandMalcolmgetintotheLandcruiser.Theyarealone,soMalcolm drives. He’s taken some flack about this from the “local” employees of the project, especially Hamidshah, the chief agricultural engineer. “You really must take a driver, Malcolm,” Hamidshah had implored. “That’s what they are here for (the project employs six of them). It does not look right, not right at all, to see a senior person driving himself. The drivers don’t like it, the staff don’t like it. Please, Malcolm, I beg you.” But Malcolm is an impatient professional. He loves his work and loves to work. His general impatience always gets the better of him, and when he decides to go somewhere, he wants to go right away, no forms to fill out, no going to the dispatcher to get a driver assigned. He knows that the dispatcher would make him wait while one of the drivers is sprung loose from his tea and cards in the drivers’ hut. It’s not worth the trouble. He just grabs a set of keys from the board, signs a slip, puts it on the dispatcher ’s desk, hops in a vehicle, and goes. Malcolm is on the road a great deal, constantly visiting the farmers in the project, cajoling, inspecting, ordering them to change this or make that adjustment, and generally hectoring them. He’s passable at the local language—no one doubts that he gets his point across. His project—to institute an appropriate technology for the uniform sun-drying of the local fruit (virtually 100 percent of which is apricots)— is one of several undertaken by the Earth Way Rural Support Institute (EWRSI). Earth Way is a private development organization founded as an international NGO. It undertakes agriculturally related projects in seven countries in Asia. Through diligent salesmanship and networking among the multilateral agencies based in Europe (IFAD and the FAO in Rome, the ILO in Geneva) and a few bilateral development agencies, particularly those of the Scandinavians and the Dutch, EWRSI has developed a reputation for no-nonsense professional project work. So much so that since the early 1990s, funding agencies have been practically clamoring to grant funds to EWRSI. Earth Way is cleverly and strategically managed. It rarely takes on projects that will not have a tangible, measurable benefit in good time. When these benefits appear, as they usually do, EWRSI takes the credit. 144 Story Ten When it started, EWRSI had to do some hard initial convincing to ensure donors that poverty is as serious in places like the sparsely populated , high-altitude Himalayas as it is in Bangladesh, one of the undisputedly deepest poverty pockets in the world. Even professional development types tend to associate poverty with dense populations, chronic food shortages, and hot and humid conditions. But here in this part of the Himalayas, not only do people...


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MARC Record
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