Wars Have Roots In Roots -
Food Is The Trigger
By David Briscoe
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Look for the roots of war literally in the roots of nations' agriculture, suggests a report financed by an organization seeking to build public understanding of the importance of farming.
The study released today draws a link between poor agriculture and the spread of regional and internal wars. It estimates that 4 million people have died in post-Cold War conflicts, 90 percent of them civilians, and points to India as a country where conflicts have been avoided to a degree with agricultural successes.
``This report demonstrates that providing developing world farmers with the fruits of research, when combined with other measures, not only helps to end hunger, but can also contribute to ending the increasingly vicious warfare that the world has seen during the 1990s,'' said Dr. Indra de Soysa, co-author of the study conducted for Future Harvest, which commissions research for the 16 worldwide centers of the U.N.-connected Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research.
De Soysa said research uncovered a strong link between conditions affecting agriculture and poverty and a new pattern of conflicts. The report said the new wars are largely internal and tend to reflect crises of subsistence rather than of ideological conflict or superpower rivalry.
``These new conflicts can be traced to the loss of livelihood, the hopelessness of surviving at the margins, and the alternative life of crime and banditry,'' de Soysa said. The report concludes that when people are unable to meet their food requirements, their survival strategies often lead them to join rebellions or become criminals.
The report describes how India, despite widespread poverty, has avoided serious conflicts ``by providing poor farmers with high-tech seeds and extension services.''
In the 1960, India and sub-Saharan Africa were each producing about 50 million tons of food a year, but by 1988, India was producing 150 million tons while Africa had remained at about the same level, the report said.
``In contrast to the endemic violence in Africa and in parts of Latin America that stem largely from subsistence crises, India can serve as an example of how effective state action and a functioning participatory political system can mitigate serious armed confrontation,'' the report said.
India has had scores of conflicts through the years but its lack of widespread unrest suggests ways to avoid conflict in other regions, by properly mixing agricultural research aimed at developing modern technology for subsistence farmers and policies which will increase food production and raise incomes of the poor, the report said.
With international peacekeeping and emergency humanitarian relief now totaling more than $10 billion a year, a reduction of conflicts would also benefit more prosperous nations, it said.