I write following a wide range of training and experience in rural development over 30 years.
Basic training and experience was in General Agriculture, and Farm management, specialising in farm livestock at the Durham School of Agriculture, in the UK. Later to prepare for work in Taiwan I had further studies including ecology, tropical agriculture, social anthropology and teaching illiterate people. In 1963 I went to Taiwan.
I started work at the Yu Shan Aborigine Agricultural Training Centre where I was involved in teaching the husbandry and management of farm livestock and in agricultural extension work. Later I was appointed farm manager, and in charge of students practical training.
After 5 years in Taiwan,I took further training in Experimental Husbandry in the UK, followed by very intensive study at the Queensland Agricultural College (Australia) , taking ad hoc courses covering more tropical agriculture, tropical horticulture, poultry nutrition and health, and animal health.
(Over the years since I have studied cooperative marketing, change in agriculture, water engineering for developing countries, international pest management, organic horticulture and permaculture. )
On return to Taiwan I was at first involved in agricultural extension work, mainly in poultry and fruit tree management in West Taiwan.
Next I was transferred to East Taiwan to develop and run an agricultural service project serving 3 pilot villages but which grew to 45 villages. The project covered the full range of agriculturally related needs, plus intermediate technology, including research and development of improved hydraulic ram water pumps and a bulldozer conversion for walking tractors. The project also co-operated with a public health project, developed a successful co-operative marketing and retail service, and produced the “Mountain Farmer” monthly magazine.
In 1979 after 16 years in Taiwan I handed over the work to nationals and in 1980 we went to Nepal. There I first worked in a community health programme and started the agricultural section of that program. Next I was given the job of developing and running the “Horticulture and Agronomy Support Programme” of the United Mission to Nepal. This involved trials and demonstrations in field crops, fruit and vegetable production, soil and water conservation, soil improvement, seed production, and bamboo propagation. We also built our own buildings and a compost toilet. People came to our project for training, and others asked me to give training on vegetable and fruit culture, soil conservation, and bamboo propagation in their projects..
In 1990 I handed over that work and wrote a book Vegetable Gardening in Nepal and another Bamboo: a valuable crop for the hills.
On return to the UK I wrote for wider use Bamboo: a valuable multipurpose and soil conserving crop, and started to write what became three volumes on soil and water conservation and soil improvement, The Conservation and Improvement of Sloping Land.
In 1994 my wife and I returned to Nepal for two years with Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO), to work for a local NGO, involved with literacy, health and nutrition, teaching, fruit and vegetable growing, working with an irrigation project and building a drinking water project.
In 1996 I was asked by VSO to make a survey of the work of NGOs in Nepal, and make recommendations. After writing my report and in view of my previous long experience I decided to write what became Durable Rural Development.
I have observed many ways of approaching rural development, and all this has produced a “dirt under the fingernails” view of this multi-disciplinary subject. To quote Philip Crosby the writer of Quality is Free:
Because of these experiences, I tend to see things in terms of those who must finally wind up doing the job. I see concepts and their implementation as people oriented. Once in a while I get a glimpse of the future, enough to know what will be accepted and what will be ignored.