Letters to the Editor. British influence on Kenyan food production

In ``African Journey: From Khartoum to Cape Town'' (International Edition, Sept. 21-27), the writer asserts that Kenya was a prime food producer during the colonial era, owing in large part to settler production. While Kenya did export food for much of its colonial history, this was done at a tremendous cost to the indigenous population. Settlers were heavily subsidized by Britain through proceeds obtained from taxing African commodity producers in neighboring Uganda, Tanganyika (now part of Tanzania), and in Kenya itself. They were given preferential treatment by the government. Yet despite a wealth of assistance, the settler agricultural sector remained nonviable, a fact recognized by the British colonial authorities themselves by the 1950s.

Also, he argues that the increasing fragmentation of the land will have negative implications for production in the agricultural sector. Pointing to a farmer who owns a 1,000-acre ranch near Nakuru, the author refers to him as ``the sort of new African farmer this country needs.'' However, he then dwells on the threat from Kenya's rapidly growing population and increasing pressure on the land.

He never links the two problems -- land scarcity and landholding inequality. Rather he supports the advent of large-scale agriculture, which is the root cause of land scarcity, not, as he maintains, the growing population. David S. Cownie University of Botswana

National Institute for Research

Gaborone, Botswana

Upon reading Dennis Volman's article, one is led to believe that the massive influx of Guatemalan refugees into southern Mexico is due to ``. . . Guatemala's ongoing guerrilla insurrection'' [``Mexico: the ultimate domino?,'' Oct. 31). The refugees are rather victims of the Guatemalan Army's full-scale counterinsurgency campaign, aimed at wiping out the guerrilla movement, which, since 1978, has resulted in the genocide or disappearance of an estimated 75,000 Guatemalan Indians. Marie-Pascale Lelong Seattle

I was reminded of the saying ``Physician, heal thyself'' as I read Eknath Easwaran's opinion article [``India and Pakistan: time to encourage trust,'' Nov. 13]. No one can argue with him when he asks India and Pakistan to bury their mutual suspicion and mistrust. But shouldn't he himself be burying his mistrust of Pakistan?

Instead of asserting that ``Pakistan is nearly in possession of a bomb,'' why does he not believe Pakistan's repeated denials that it does not possess a bomb and its President's recent statement at the United Nations reiterating Pakistan's ``irrevocable commitment not to acquire nuclear weapons or nuclear devices''?

Easwaran says his land of adoption can use its ``enormous influence with Pakistan to stop its drive to develop an atomic bomb.''

One hopes he would join the United States in urging New Delhi to accept any one of the half dozen Pakistani proposals which will keep South Asia free of nuclear weapons.

Finally, why is he shy to acknowledge the Pakistani authorship of the proposal of a nonaggression pact made to India in September 1981? M. I. Butt Embassy of Pakistan Minister (Information) Washington

In a recent issue of your paper an article took issue with Pakistan's attempts to make atomic bombs in its continuing preparation to attack India at a future date [``India's Gandhi tries to keep ball rolling on regional issues,'' Oct. 21].

Pakistan still feels insecure in spite of America's oversupply of military hardware to that country. It wants to hoodwink world public opinion by proposing a nuclear-free peace zone in South Asia.

The two South Asian democracies, India and Sri Lanka, have serious objections, since its terms will never be honored by Pakistan. Buddhadasa Kirthisinghe General Secretary The Society for Asian Affairs New York

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none individually acknowledged. All are subject to condensation. Please address letters to ``readers write.''

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