Home page

Home > You are here

What are these case studies?

     The purpose of these countries case studies is to try to identify the elements that produced successful medic development.

Each country in the WANA region adopted a different approach to the development of medic farming and we analyse their successes and failures.

The case studies.

Medic development began in the early 1970s but suffered from a fragmented approach that treated medic as a green manure for the cereal crop. Specialisation within the FAO and Algerian bureaucracies made the co-ordination of pasture, livestock, cereals and farm machinery impossible. Neither could they cope with success on the ground.

Started later than most WANA countries in the early 1980s. Projects at Erbil and Mosul were a great success until abandoned due to war and sanctions.

An opportunity for the Australians to demonstrate the medic farming system but they found the real world of farming too difficult and retreated to futile applied research.

One of the great successes. In the early 1970s and 1980s the Libyans integrated medic seed, farm machinery and farmer knowledge into a highly productive and profitable system. During the late 1980s resources were diverted to other priorities and medic faded away. We returned to Libya in 2009 to study the farming .....

The last country in WANA to use medic. In spite of the bank of knowledge then available failed completely to understand shallow cultivation. Incorporated farmer knowledge into medic establishment but not grazing management or shallow cultivation. Failed after five years.

The home of the medic farming system. So many lessons have not been understood. Medic and other legumes on the parcour offer an easy entry into high livestock production. Shallow cultivation is all about appropriate implement and many other important points besides.

The home of the two main WANA research centres - ICARDA and ACSAD. Why have they failed to understand medic and shallow cultivation? How did ICARDA develop the pod harvesters and pod sowing almost by accident? Why has the village of Tah not been used as a demonstration centre?

A great deal of early success in the 1970s but unable to overcome the shallow cultivation problem. 

Early development ideas

    Economic development in the WANA region accelerated after the Second World War.

Countries in North Africa invested heavily in development after they gained independence.

The development concepts of the time were based in macro-economic theory.

It was thought that development took place with sufficient investment of capital, the provision of inputs and the use of modern technology.

This approach had many successes.

The Marshall Plan in Europe and the economic miracles in Italy, Germany and Japan all demonstrated rapid development based on this model. Italy in particular showed how a country with a very large rural population could transform itself into a highly developed industrial society over a few decades.

 Agricultural development in the WANA region was a particularly top down process where government projects and programs tried to expand agricultural output to suit national needs.

Governments saw cereal production as the most important priority.

Livestock were not as important as cereals.

Within the livestock sector priority was given to intensive production of poultry and milking cows based on grain feeding rather than the improvement of the traditional sheep grazing sector.

Most of the development was policy driven not profit driven.

If new technology and investment could increase production it was good for the nation and without further consideration also good for farmers. Rarely did anyone consider the views, needs or priorities of farmers as a starting point for investment decisions.

Probably the most glaring example of a neglected investment opportunity was lack of  development of the parcour in the cereals zone and high rainfall zone.

There are vast areas of land that could be improved very cheaply with medics and other legumes without the complication of rotations, shallow cultivation, etc.

These pasture would have increased livestock production from sheep by many times. It had been proved as simple and cost effective in Australia but was hardly tried in the WANA region in spite of the fact that the much higher returns from sheep would have made it even more profitable.

The primary instrument to implement development investment was the Ministry of Agriculture.

These bureaucracies were organised on traditional lines that followed biological divisions.

All Ministries were divided into plant and animal divisions.

These divisions were further divided into subdivisions for sheep, cattle, poultry etc. whereas mixed farming is about crops, pastures and grazing livestock.

The Ministries were based on technology.

Economics and farm management played a small role.

Strengthening institutions.

    Over the last several decades ideas on development have changed as it became obvious that the old formula of increased investment, more saving, and improved technology as macro economic levers did not produce results in large parts of the world.

More attention was given to the institutions both public and private.

Libya and Algeria - contrasting approaches

The Libyan development authorities established in the early 1970s anticipated this trend.

They were established with power to cut across the bureaucratic lines of control and concentrate on development objectives.

The work of the Jebel al Akhdar Authority in eastern Libya is a good example and is a stark contrast to the uncoordinated Algerian Ministry of Agriculture.

In the early 1970s the Jebel al Akhdar Authority employed Australian farmers as extension agents, purchased medic seed and farm machinery for its medic projects as well as establishing an applied research and demonstration farm under the management of the South Australian Department of Agriculture.

They managed to integrate all these inputs into a most successful medic program. 

The Algerians found it difficult to co-ordinate their actions and follow through with the necessary inputs.

Their medic program suffered for years from a lack of appropriate machinery for shallow cultivation.

Finally when an agronomist from the Ministry became head of the Farm Machinery Organisation a large number of suitable machines were purchased but by that time the Ministry had abandoned its medic and did not know what the machines were for.

Earlier one of the Ministry farms had carried out excellent work over many years on the superiority of shallow cultivation but it seemed impossible to get this research out of the centre and use it as the basis of a changed policy in the Ministry.

The medic development work in the WANA region over the last 30 years has shown the deep cultural conservatism of the agricultural institutions.

They claim that they are convinced by science but the record shows that institutions become set in a path based on a common training and experience and are not prepared to break away.

The story of shallow cultivation is a particularly good example of experiment after experiment showing that shallow cultivation worked but the institutions staying with their familiar deep ploughing.

Of course the cost advantage of shallow cultivation did not influence them as they had no need to regard cost as important. They were insulated from the real world of farm costs.

The other aspect of this conservatism was the lack of time given to medic.

When the idea was taken up it was expected to prove itself in three or five years.

Given the number of concepts that were turned on their heads this was always an unrealistic policy.

It is in stark contrast to the ideas from their own culture - nitrogen fertiliser, deep ploughing etc. - which were pursued for decade after decade in spite of their lack of success on the ground.

1990s and privatisation

     The 1990s saw huge changes in Tunisia and Algeria where the colonial farms which had been converted into state farms and cooperatives were rapidly divided and privatised.

This created a further crisis of confidence within the Ministries as they had to adjust to their new role as advisers to farmers rather than decision makers.

They are still trying to adjust to this new role.

The wave of privatisation spread further than changes in land ownership in Tunisia and Algeria.

Throughout the the WANA region there was a move to see private institutions rather than government or semi government bodies as the instruments for development.

This new ideology was promoted by bodies such as the World Bank who at times went to extraordinary lengths to twist development projects into their private enterprise ideology.

Political events.

    Overlaying this very broad description of the development policies of the WANA region as they relate to agriculture one needs to look at specific events that were obstacles to progress.

The Algeria civil war in the 1990s, sanctions against Libya and Iraq all had important effects on medic development.

The political events most obvious effect was governments went into survival mode rather than developing new ideas.

There were other aspects.

Importing Australian farm machinery for shallow cultivation became difficult.

The Australia advisers left and in the case of Algeria the medic teams became dispersed.

How did these trends impact on medic development?

    Farming systems

    The development of medic was a change in the farming system.

This was unusual.

Most agricultural technology was much more narrowly based.

Encouraging farmers to use new cereal varieties and nitrogen fertiliser, the introduction of mechanical harvesting of cereals and intensive poultry production were all example of development that could be handled within a neat bureaucratic group.

Medic crossed the boundaries of crops, pastures, livestock and machinery.

Only the Libyans and the Iraqis for a short period managed to put all these inputs together in the same place at the same time.

In the other countries the medic farming system was dismantled into its component parts and introduced separately.

The fragmented approach had a high failure rate.

Another problem was a lack of understanding that a farming system is about farmers.

The Libyans saw this.

Perhaps it was because they first saw the medic system in operation on Australian farms. They certainly realised that farmers were the best people to make it work.

Everyone else (national bureaucracies, international institutions etc.)  saw farming systems as theoretical models of plants and animals in which farmers were not particularly important.

Australian farmers were not employed.

Technicians were not trained in Australia and few managers even bothered to visit Australia to see medic farming on the ground.

Again and again mistakes were made that were glaringly obvious to anyone with practical experience but the top down nature of the development process did not allow for practical people.

Few people are interested in agricultural history of medic but it could have provided some useful ideas for policy makers in the region.

The medic farming system was a farmer invention.

It came from practical ideas developed by farmers. The scientists played an important role in fine tuning it but the crucial development of shallow cultivation and the discovery of the medic was made by Australian farmers.

Understanding this would having been of great benefit to project managers in the WANA region.

    Identifying success

    It seems almost bizarre to claim that success was not identified.

That has been the case in many WANA countries.

Projects do not always turn out as expected.

The project administration has frequently ignored the success of projects because they occurred outside the objectives of the project.

In Algeria at El Khemis a cooperative farm established a very successful medic system but it was never incorporated into the demonstration and training system as that was not its niche in the hierarchy.

Much of its success came from sheep while the policy objective was cereals.

Elsewhere in Algeria there was success with shallow cultivation that reduced costs but at that time the government policy was to increase cereal production without regard to costs.

In Jordan the medic project had success with shallow cultivation and rangeland grazing but could not adapt to its own success. These were neglected as they were not the objective of the project.

    Agricultural technology

    The agricultural technology used in the development projects was firmly based in ideas from Europe and North America.

The problem with this technology is that the climate in the WANA region is different and different scientific concepts are needed.

It was not simply a question of saying that plant  B could be used instead of plant A.

The whole pasture concept was different.

Instead of the perennial grasses used in northern temperate regions, the most adapted plants for a Mediterranean climate are self-regenerating legumes. These are totally unknown in Northern Europe and America.

Besides the agricultural subsidies of Europe and America after 1950 flavoured grain feeding and intensive nitrogen fed grass rather than pasture mixture containing legumes.

In every country in the WANA region the medic groups were a small enclave of people swimming against the tide of technicians and bureaucrats trained (both in their own countries and overseas) in the European and American agricultural ideas.

Even in Libya where the medic people reached for a time a larger group than other WANA countries they could not swim against the tide for ever.

    Economic comparisons

    Most of the economic studies of medic have suffered from a purist approach to farm costs.

For small farmers the cost of shepherding sheep with family labour can be ignored.

The farm family already has a flock and they have no intention of abandoning it because of the pronouncements of economists.

That is the reality on the ground and it is pointless to put shepherding costs into a budget. For small flocks they show that sheep are totally uneconomic.

Equally for the cropping side of the rotation it is important to distinguish between farmers with tractors and those without.

Those without pay cash for their cultivation and may be unwilling to risk cash on crops such as vetch and grain legumes that require more cultivation.


    Aid continued to reinforce inappropriate technology.

It was hard to resist as it was free.

In Jordan the cooperative was provided with a complete set of deep ploughing equipment as aid from Germany but they purchased shallow tillage implements from Australia with a loan from IFAD and left the deep ploughs is the shed. It was a brave decision and most managers took the easy way out and accepted the aid whether it was appropriate or not.

Australia had a tiny aid program for the region which was spent in Jordan and Egypt on projects that were poorly directed and failed to achieve results on farms.

Two of the most successful medic projects were partly funded through the German aid organisation GTZ. The pasture development at Sejnane and the medic program in Morocco.


     It is hard to think of anything positive to say about training for medic in the WANA region.

Almost all the medic projects had plans to send technicians to Australia for training.

These plans very rarely came to fruition.

The technicians did not want to go.

They preferred the more familiar European and American destinations.

The Australians did not want them.

They found it difficult to cope with their lack of English skills and were very hesitant to recognise their qualifications.

As the Libyan Minister of Agriculture said, the medic projects had to retrain their recruits who were cultured to think in European and American concepts.

There was never as far as I know any link between the medic projects run through the Ministry of Agriculture and the training institutions run by the Ministry of Education.

In fact the Ministry of Education seemed to be unaware of Agriculture's work in most fields not just medic.

Their textbooks reflected European and American agriculture never ideas from Australia.

Briefly in the 1970s FAO sponsored a special dryland farming course on medic at Roseworthy College in South Australia for students from the WANA region. It demonstrated the total confusion of training objectives.

FAO no doubt circulated course details to the WANA countries but it suffered from a lack of students.

Those students that undertook the course were rarely recruited from or employed on medic projects.

One of the best students from Algeria later headed the local olive section of the Ministry.

In desperation FAO circulated the course more widely and obtained a good response from Kenya and other English speaking countries of east Africa.

The organisers of the course in Australia responded by trying to make it relevant to these students from the dry tropics.

When FAO assessed the course after five years they decided it was too far away and had become distracted from its main objective.

Funding was cancelled.

In the 1970s training in Australia was appropriate.

In the 1980s and 1990s countries in the WANA region had considerable experience of medic and were slowly developing their own system.

There were no medic courses and there was no attempt to co-ordinate activities in the WANA region so students from one country could study in another.


    Extension has been the poor relation throughout the last half century.

There has been considerable confusion with the extension message.

For most of the period the objective of agricultural development was to reduce the national deficit in cereals.

This appeared in project reports and other planning documents but was hardly a convincing argument to put to farmers who had more immediate needs.

Extension agents must convince farmers with an economic message of more profitable farming and less risk but they are not well equipped to provide this message.

The various medic projects did little to generate their own extension material.

The Libyan success with medic was one of the greatest wasted opportunities. The Australian farmers were highly successful extension agents - too successful in a sense as this led to the Libyan authorities relying on them and failing to train a local service to replace them.

Neither was there an attempt to produce written, audio and visual material from the projects.

The similarities in language, climate, soils and farming systems throughout the WANA region provided enormous opportunities to share extension material.

The obvious organisation to initiate such a program would have been FAO. We produced a series of audio visual kits for FAO in the late 1980s but the medic projects (including those funded by FAO) were undertaken in the early 1970s.

After this brief burst of activity FAO has done nothing.

   Research institutions

    One of the great difficulties faced by the research institutions is that medic was being used in a farming system.

Farming systems research is too complex for most agricultural scientists to handle.

They like to make precise measurements of one or two variables.

Farming systems require less precise measurement of many variables.

Research institutions also found it difficult to cross the plant-animal divide.

Either the research institutions like ITGC in Algeria had a clear plant objective or where they were under the same roof they were in different divisions that found cooperation difficult if not impossible.

A good example of the difficulty that scientist have in handling the complex variable found in the real farming world is provided by the comparisons made in many experiments between medic pasture and vetch in terms of the growth rate of lambs.

These experiments measured the growth of lambs on a weekly basis. When the vetch was finished the experiments were terminated.

The experiments produced neat results that could be easily analysed. The statistical analysis was sound and they were published in research journals but they did not reflect reality.

In most cases the vetch showed a slight advantage over medic in terms of growth rate of lambs during the limited period of the experiment.

No one considered the farming system as a whole and the other costs and benefits. Firstly if the medic had regenerated from pods in the soil it would geminated earlier than the vetch and be ready for grazing earlier.

After the experiments were terminated there were still medic pods on the ground that had further grazing value and would provide the basis of further regeneration.

Taking these factors into account made the whole experiment too complex to analyse.

The medic pasture is only part of the farming system and if the costs and benefits are carried on to the cereal phase one can see that the number of variables becomes too great to handle. 

The rotation is beyond the current scientific framework of analysis.

ICARDA - International Centre for Arid Regions and Dry Areas based in Aleppo, Syria.

ICARDA did to their credit employ some Australian agronomists on their medic program in the 1980s but they were deeply cultured in Australian ideas and found it impossible to adapt to the WANA region.

The role of the research institutions in Australia has been fine tuning the medic system.

The farmers established the basics of the system.

The research institutions found more and better medic cultivars and later means of biological control of pests. It was all valuable work that improved the productivity of the Australia medic farming.

The Australian agronomists transferred these ideas to ICARDA and became bogged down in the details of cultivar selection.

There was plenty of work to do as the Australian cultivars were not selected for the cold winters of northern Iraq and Syria or the high plateau of Algeria. It was still fine tuning.

Australian cultivars did grow in these cold regions if not particularly well and in all the other regions with mild winters they were well adapted.

The pressing problems for medic were grazing management and shallow cultivation.

ICARDA did not get involved.

The Australian agronomist refused to accept that there was a problem.

He continued to state that farmers would muddle through by a process of adaptation and modification of their implements which seemed a little arrogant coming from a researcher based in the lavishly equipped research centres of ICARDA.

More important there was no attempt to find out what farmers in the WANA region were doing. The whole approach was top down. No one at ICARDA seemed to be interested in the modifications that WANA farmers were making to the medic system and how they could be improved and dispersed more widely.

ICARDA's greatest contributions to the medic system dribbled out in the 1990s when the organisation had abandoned its medic program.

They developed the medic pod harvester.

Their intention was to link it to a thresher for small scale seed production but that is unimportant.

They also carried out experiments on pod sowing.

Unfortunately ICARDA no longer had a medic program to put the two together as we did at Zaghouan in Tunisia.

Pod harvesting and sowing overcame the so called medic seed problem. 

It overcame the seed bed preparation and sowing problem.

When used in a Zaghouan 4 rotation it overcame the shallow cultivation and weed control problem.

ACSAD based in Damascus, Syria.

ACSAD demonstrated the same top down approach.

In the 1980s they carried out many experiments on the depth of cultivation at many research centres throughout the WANA region.

They did not employ an Australian with experience in shallow cultivation to plan the experiments nor did they send anyone to Australia to see shallow cultivation in operation.

In Jordan they did not look over the boundary of the research centre to look at the shallow cultivation carried out by the Jordan Cooperative Organisation on private farms.

They did not look at the decade of work at the El Kroub centre in Algeria or the shallow cultivation on private farms in Libya.

They steadfastly used deep ploughs and cultivators for all their shallow cultivation treatments.

If they had talked to farmers either in Australia or in the WANA region they would have realised that deep ploughs used in this way are inefficient.

Farmers would also have told them that their attempts to measure the rate of cultivation needed wider implements as well as great speed.

Their work can be compared with trying to determine whether it is better to drive on the right or the left.

If such an experiment were conducted it would be necessary to use cars designed for the right and the left in each series of treatments.

The ACSAD experiments used cars designed for the right for both right and left treatments.

National research organisation have also carried out much valuable work but it has failed to convince the bureaucracy trained and cultured in other ideas.

The research results on shallow cultivation carried out in Algeria were formidable but failed to convince most of the Ministry.

Algerian work on the selection of cold resistant cultivars was totally lost.

The only record of its existence is a few slides in my collection now in this web site.

They also suffered from a top down approach and found it difficult to accept that farmers could contribute worthwhile ideas.

No doubt the research organisations will totally reject my claims that they are top down organisation and point to their participation programs but I am talking of something completely different.

Farmer participation programs work on the basis of surveying farmers to determine their priorities.

The researcher then works on the problem in isolation and comes back with the solution.

With the medic system my criticism is that the researchers did not look at what the WANA farmers were already doing.

The ICARDA agronomist working on medic told me he was not interested in Libya or what the Libyan farmer were doing.

It was irrelevant to his work.

To reject the most successful farm scale adoption of medic in this way seems to me to show a total top down approach. 


    Given the organisation of FAO it is a wonder that it achieved anything at all in the area of medic.

On the other hand it can be said that an organisation so richly endowed with resources should have achieved something.

The organisation structure of FAO makes the idea of a medic farming system almost impossible.

Medic farming falls between crops, machinery, pastures and livestock.

These groups within FAO rarely co-ordinate their actions and could not run a joint program.

Machinery as a subject hardly exists within FAO.

The total failure of FAO medic projects in Syria and Algeria demonstrate both the co-ordination problem and the top down approach.

In the 1980s FAO appointed a medic pasture expert but his experience was based on pastures to reduce erosion in Portuguese and Spanish olive groves not grazing and cereals in the WANA region.

FAO funded our book on medic and the audio visual training kits for farmers but these were carried out by the regional office with resistance from the pasture people.

The livestock section in FAO is firmly based in European and US ideas of feed lotting.

Our book and audio-visual were some of the first extension material prepared on medic specifically for the WANA region. They were published in the late 1980s when most medic development was in decline and 15 years after FAO had launched its medic project in Algeria.

FAO also has a strong European and American culture.

It therefore suffered from the same problems as the national bureaucracies.

It could not accept the results of its own research where this contradicted the technical culture.

FAO published research from 1956 onwards showed the superiority of shallow cultivation but this was never accepted at a policy level and FAO continued to advocate deep ploughing.

 IFAD has given remarkable support to medic in its projects.

Projects have been funded in Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco.

While it has at times employed medic experts on the projects (including ourselves) none were designed by people with first hand experience in medic and therefore the projects had fundamental weaknesses.

The need for shallow cultivation was not recognised.

While there was no lack of expensive harvesters and other implements it seemed impossible to bring in scarifiers or seeders.

The project cycle was not conducive to the medic system either.

Changing a farming system requires time. IFAD should have accepted that the usual 5 year project (FAO in contrast tried to achieve a medic farming system in 3 years) really only identified the problems and some partial solutions.

Another 5 years were need to make an impact.

The future

    Institutions as farmers

    The case studies described in these chapters show that institutions are not very good at medic farming.

There is considerable debate about the failure of medic to become widely established in the WANA region over the last 30 years.

The institutions blame the medic.

I blame the institutions.

A medic farming system is an integrated system and does not respond to a pick and choose approach where one element is selected to suit policy objectives. 

Institutions in most cases have found it difficult to co-ordinate inputs.

They have failed to provide implements for shallow cultivation and sheep for grazing.

Their horizons have often been too short term.

A three or even five year project is not sufficient time to radically alter a farming system.

They have failed to respond to success if that success is outside the original policy objectives.

Over and above they have proved themselves to be deeply conservative and reluctant to adopt new ideas.

In Libya the Jebel al Akhdar Development Authority came very close to self sustaining success but even that failed due the death of key personnel, the shift in investment priorities and sanctions.

Other countries in the region have not imitated the Libyan institutional arrangement and still remain firmly in the plant and animal divisions and all the further sub divisions rather than the Libyan regional approach.

    Institutions and development.

    One can hope that the institutions have learnt from their mistakes.

I do not believe this to be true.

Institutional memory is short.

During a recent consultancy in Tunisia I found that I had a much more extensive memory of all the successes and failure of the Tunisian medic program than any of the Tunisian officials at the seminar.

The institutions in the WANA region have also learnt little from other countries in the region.

The Libyan success has been ignored.

    Whether the institutions can improve their performance or not is not important as it is unlikely that the government institutions will be asked to develop medic farming directly as they were in the past.

The dominant world ideology is against direct government intervention in this manner.

In some countries the ideology has been taken further and the Ministry of Agriculture has almost withdrawn from the development stage. It is seen as a regulatory body and development is seen as something that is left to market forces.

    Market forces and medic development

    If the institutions withdraw and leave agricultural development to market forces medic farming will have little chance over the next several decades.

This is because of the nature of the system.

    Seed merchants?

    If we look at the inputs in medic farming as a driving force for development we can see that there is little profit incentive involved.

Medic seed has been sold and promoted by Australian seed merchants but the scope for promotion is limited.

Most of the cultivars are public varieties.

Even with the few that have Plant Breeders Rights the margins that can be devoted to promotion are still limited because of the nature of the system.

Medic pastures if properly managed require very little seed.

They are unlike vetch which is re-seeded every year. There is considerable incentive for seed merchants to promote vetch.

We have said that using high seeding rates of expensive imported medic seed is uneconomic in the WANA even for the initial establishment.

The alternative is for farmers to harvest and use pods.

The Australian seed merchants are not going to promote medic pods yet if they promote the high seeding rates and imported seed the package it is profitable for them but unprofitable for farmers.

When it come to the development of the parcour there is even less incentive for the suppliers of medic and other legume seed to invest in promotion. Seed plays a small part. In most cases pods provide a better option for establishment and these are harvested from local farms. 

Alf Hannaford, a seed merchant in South Australia, played an important role in promoting medic seed in the 1930s. He advertised in in newspapers and set up stands at local shows.

I cannot see Australian merchants doing the same in the WANA region and at present their are no local merchants.

If the pod method takes off there are unlikely to be many seed merchants.

    Machinery manufacturers?

    The argument for shallow cultivation is slightly different.

Firstly the machinery will not sell on its own.

It needs an information package.

Farmers need to know that the individual implements may cost more but replace two or three other implements.

They need to understand know to use them.

The Algerian example showed how implements without the information package were useless.

The problem is that a manufacturer who spends a large amount on the information package to create a market for shallow cultivation implements will open the market for his competitors also. He is unlikely to take the risk.

At present the most comprehensive range of implements for shallow cultivation comes from Australia.

Over the last several decades Australian farms have become larger while the large farms in North Africa have been broken up into smaller holdings.

The Australian manufacturers could bring out their older and smaller designs but they would require a reasonably large production run to do so.

The Australian manufacturers sold machinery to the WANA region in the 1970s and 1980s but found it was too far away and too much hard work.

To be fair they are generally small companies and do not have the resources to commit to the market especially as they know if they are successful European manufacturers and local suppliers can copy their implements and probably sell them cheaper.

Alternatively the big multinational manufacturers such as John Deere and Massey Fergusion might decide to supply the WANA region from their Australian factories where they produce shallow cultivation implements.

This is unlikely because the Australian implements are too large.

The European factories make smaller implements even if they are for deep ploughing.

The multinational manufacturers also make tractors and could see shallow cultivation as a threat.

Smaller or fewer tractors are needed.

The Zaghouan 4 rotation is even worse for tractor sales as the area cultivated is reduced to 25%. If the manufacturers are going to drive agricultural development they will encourage vetch and grain legumes as this increases the area cultivated.

Local manufacturers could build shallow cultivation implements. The concepts are simple and do not require patents although building Australian machines under licence would be a cheap means of obtaining effective designs.

Again the machines need a knowledge packages and the WANA manufacturers are too small to invest in promotion on that scale. Expansion is difficult as trade between WANA countries is limited by high freight costs.

    Small machines

    These are even more difficult to introduce through the free market model as small farmers usually make up only 20% of the market.

If manufacturers decided to promote shallow cultivation. pod harvesters etc. they would do it for large farmers not small ones.

    Fertiliser manufacturers?

    Certainly in Australia the fertiliser manufacturers promoted the sub and super package.

They did not put a great deal of effort into it and it is doubtful whether it made a great impact.

In WANA phosphate sales would increase with medic particularly if the parcour was developed but nitrogen sales would fall.

    Who is in charge?

    Over riding all these arguments about market forces and commercial interests is the question "Do the countries in the WANA region want to put their agricultural development in the hands of a few seed merchants from Australia or the whims of international machinery manufacturers?"

A mixed approach

    If governments do become involved in medic development but not directly in farming what can they do?

    * They should accept that the medic farming system is about farmers as well as medic pasture, livestock, cereals and machinery.

They should not try to foster the system from the top down but assist a lateral exchange of ideas from farmer to farmer.

As we show in the South Australia chapter early knowledge on sub clover spread from farmer to farmer in a small zone of perhaps 30 or 40 km around Mt Barker over a number of decades but once the Department of Agriculture took the idea up it was spread to many other regions. In the WANA region there have been some remarkable successes with medic on the ground but Ministries of Agriculture have found it difficult to exploit these successes.

Ministries should try to foster these cells as demonstration and training centres.

    * They should assist in the provision of inputs on a transitional basis.

Of course this goes against purest form of free market ideology but within that ideology it can be justified on a transitional basis.

The argument is that government farms could for example provide medic pasture areas for farmers to harvest.

Once the farmers have their own medic pasture they can harvest their own pods and even establish a market in pods.

The government can provide scarifiers on a trial and return basis.

Once the market is established they should leave it to market forces to sell, hire or rent scarifiers.

They should not return to the machinery contracting work of old.

The same applies to pod harvesters and strippers.

    * They should become involved in information packages and training.

These areas are difficult to develop within the market model particularly when the information is public property.

Information on the costs and benefits of shallow cultivation is public property and applies to all manufacturers.

It cannot be successful reserved to a single brand.

The institutions should do this within a farmer context rather than imposing from above.

We have argued elsewhere that governments should support the training of farmers as extension agents and provide vouchers to other small farmers to pay for their services.