AudioFrancis Jamison Bell interview
N.R. Richards (00:00:08):
This is an interview with Jamie Bell, year '37 OAC, conducted by Rick Richards on July the 30th, 1992 for the University of Guelph Alumni in Action group and the Alumni Association. Jamie, it is pleasant to chat with you this afternoon. You are certainly one of OAC's unique graduates, your early and considerable experience in developing countries. It was unique for people of your time of graduation. So to begin our discussion, I would ask you if you would give us a little bit about your place of origin, and what circumstances brought you to the OAC campus.
Francis Jamison Bell (00:01:20):
I was born in Alabama of deaf parents, my mother being Canadian born from Grey County and my father being Alabama born, and they met at Gallaudet College. When I was six years old, my mother's mother brought us to Canada to take up a life in Canada, and that is how an Alabama boy got started in Canada and later into OAC.
N.R. Richards (00:02:10):
Gallaudet College, where was it located?
Francis Jamison Bell (00:02:13):
Gallaudet College was the first deaf institution of higher learning for deaf people in North America, and my mother was the first Canadian lady to go to that place. Located in Washington, DC and financed by the federal government at that time.
N.R. Richards (00:02:37):
Just to satisfy my own curiosity, what part of Grey County did your mother hail from?
Francis Jamison Bell (00:02:47):
Tara, on the north side of Tara. Shortly afterwards, her parents migrated to Carman, Manitoba, as many people did from Ontario at that period in Canadian development, and her father created the Dufferin Leader, a newspaper on the liberal side at Carman. They were very loving parents. If we look at that time, five family members of the first generation all went together. One was a lawyer, one was a town clerk, one became a newspaper editor, one became a millinery shop operator, and one became a farmer.
N.R. Richards (00:04:00):
Very diversified. Isn't that interesting? And did you come to Guelph from Manitoba?
Francis Jamison Bell (00:04:08):
No. Over the course of time, my parents came to Oshawa, where another member of my grandmother's family lived, and he was in charge of the General Motors wood fabrication plant, where at that time, all automobiles had a wood body construction. My father obtained a job in that place, and we grew up going to the schools of Oshawa before going to Guelph to OAC.
N.R. Richards (00:04:53):
And you would come to the campus in the fall of '33?
Francis Jamison Bell (00:05:00):
I came to the campus in the fall of '33. It's an interesting story to tell how OAC came into the picture. It's typical, I think, of young people of my age at that particular time that they did not know quite what to do. If they came from farms, they were the elite of the young men because they had some place to return to, and it was a very fine profession. For the people who were born and raised in towns with no farm, those people had a much more difficult time to find themselves, and many of them found themselves at Queen's. Gord Overend found himself in Forestry at Toronto, and Bob Clapperton, a city boy, found himself at Guelph. But what we had at Guelph, oft farm boys came there as secondary citizens, as I see it.
N.R. Richards (00:06:27):
Well, secondary from the standpoint of livestock judging.
Francis Jamison Bell (00:06:30):
Secondary coming from way behind in experience for farms.
N.R. Richards (00:06:37):
And a bit on your impressions when you arrived as, well, I guess we'll say, a city boy at an agricultural campus.
Francis Jamison Bell (00:06:52):
Rick, could I just go one point back? How did I first learn about OAC being a city boy?
N.R. Richards (00:07:00):
Francis Jamison Bell (00:07:02):
My grandmother had sent me up to a little village, Katy, up in Grey County. As a fresh air kid, as the farmers up there called me when I came there, I was sent there and immediately I liked it. I seemed to have had an aptitude for driving horses, to drive horses straight and to be able to control these horses in various situations. On the hay fork, on the hay wagon, on the scuffler, in a cultivation or in a plowing situation, I had very good control, and so I established a reputation quickly as being a responsible person, and I liked it. Now, not knowing what to do at the end of my high school days, I came to visit my grandmother up at Bala, who rented a cottage for the other grandchildren.
Francis Jamison Bell (00:08:21):
There were six of us in the canoe going from Bala to an island over there, and my grandmother asked me, "Jamie, what do you want to do? You have now finished the OCVI." "Granny," I replied, "I don't know. I like farming." And she said, "You know, I think there is a place in Guelph that teaches farming." And in a matter of a day, we got the address and I wrote a letter to Guelph asking to be admitted, and then within two weeks, I received a letter saying that I was admitted. And it happened in a canoe with six people in it with that information of that decision.
N.R. Richards (00:09:17):
Isn't that interesting? And that letter that came from Guelph, that would be from the registrar?
Francis Jamison Bell (00:09:24):
That came from Archie.
N.R. Richards (00:09:26):
Francis Jamison Bell (00:09:26):
Archie Porter's letter.
N.R. Richards (00:09:29):
Oh, wow. And arriving on the campus, I presume, coming from Oshawa, you would arrive by motor vehicle?
Francis Jamison Bell (00:09:40):
Came by the train, that CNR train that arrived in Guelph about 9:15 AM. And on that day that I was coming, there were many others similar in my situation, and we were all looking at each other, almost like Bernardo homeboys, knowing that we must be associated in some way but didn't know what way.
N.R. Richards (00:10:08):
So you arrived on campus. Do you have any compelling memories or recollections of that early, early arrival and your settling in on campus?
Francis Jamison Bell (00:10:28):
Very clearly. When I arrived there, to use a word that may just be going out of fashion, it was awesome. Awesome in the sense that the buildings looked beautiful, the rooms looked very, very adequate for study, and the nearness of the experimental plots, the cattle barn, the sheep barn, the big barn, all of that was just like a very large well-organized farm where it just attracted attention and, let me say, fervor to study further. I was at home in that environment.
N.R. Richards (00:11:22):
And were there any individuals on the campus at that particular time that impressed you in those early days?
Francis Jamison Bell (00:11:36):
Well, of course. I have to say that Dr. Christie, as he would walk from his home to his office, was a role model. I didn't know him other than that he was the president of the college, but the dignity with which he carried himself. Then I have to mention, a person that I think had as much deep understanding of students and their problems and their opportunities was Dean Sands.
Francis Jamison Bell (00:12:19):
Then I shouldn't forget Dr. Annie Ross. If you had a sniffle, it was Dr. Annie Ross that looked after you with a grandmotherly care.
N.R. Richards (00:12:33):
Yeah, she was the-
Francis Jamison Bell (00:12:35):
She was the doctor.
N.R. Richards (00:12:36):
Francis Jamison Bell (00:12:36):
The resident doctor.
N.R. Richards (00:12:39):
Well, many people benefited from her kindness and compassion. Your coursework is in those early days because we are of a similar vintage. The first two years were general. Have you recollections of those first two years on campus?
Francis Jamison Bell (00:13:10):
Those first two years were quickly resolved into a very definite picture of what I wanted to do into the future. It focused on field husbandry. As it was in field husbandry, I saw that it was the basis of taking the sun's energy and transforming it into plant material, and then by the breeding system and plant selection, then the world would have a continuous supply of ever-improving genetic material. That's what took me to the field hub. Also, there was one thing about field hub. The aroma of the field hub building was that of seeds and those seed pickers down in the basement. The storage of seed, the side door opening out with field husbandry materials and the plots were not far away, but that all came together very, very quickly in the first year that I was there.
N.R. Richards (00:14:39):
And as we will come to chat about later, it certainly influenced the kind of professional activity that you followed later in life, in your work in the developing countries.
Francis Jamison Bell (00:14:54):
No question about that. The beginning of any agricultural development program in a developing country, or an improvement program within our own country, begins with field husbandry. The livestock comes in a diversification and depends on the field husbandry to keep it going.
N.R. Richards (00:15:19):
The livestock processing the plants that the land resources can produce.
Francis Jamison Bell (00:15:27):
N.R. Richards (00:15:31):
From time to time, we have people comment that the course was so general. We got a little bit of a large number of subjects, and sometimes those who didn't attend well thought the humanities, the history and English literature, was neglected. How do you feel about those critics?
Francis Jamison Bell (00:16:06):
Well, I can remember there was Prof. McLean in English, and no one could take English without being impressed by Prof. McLean. And I can't remember now the head of the department at that moment.
N.R. Richards (00:16:29):
Francis Jamison Bell (00:16:30):
OJ Stevenson. Correct. No one could look on that area, and there were not many of us so gifted that we went through what English had to offer in two or three days. We were not gifted. We had to struggle in there, and OJ Stevenson particularly Nailed us to a narrow road of expertise that we had to achieve.
N.R. Richards (00:17:01):
At the close of the two years, you have already indicated that you elected to take the field husbandry option. Now, I think they've a more sophisticated name for it. Crop signs or some such thing, but that was the area you decided to concentrate on.
Francis Jamison Bell (00:17:22):
Right from the beginning.
N.R. Richards (00:17:26):
And Dr. McRostie was the head of the field husbandry department?
Francis Jamison Bell (00:17:31):
No, Professor Squirrell was head, and he had an unfortunate accident that took his life, and Dr. McRostie was invited to come from Manitoba to take over the field hub department as I entered into my fourth year.
N.R. Richards (00:18:00):
As you entered your fourth year. Well, then you became quite closely associated with the McRostie family, did you not?
Francis Jamison Bell (00:18:07):
Well, now, that's interesting. Some people wonder whether I knew Dr. McRostie first or knew my wife first. Let me put a little background into this thing at this point. At the end of my first year at Guelph, I had a Scotch uncle by marriage who was very close to people in Toronto Elevators who also manufactured master feeds. And in order to get me a job at the end of my first year, he arranged for me to work on the steamship Sarnia, the only ship owned by Toronto Elevators at that time, with Captain Bruce Angus coming from Bruce County, and a dour old Scotchman. But I count that as being inducted into the grain trade, which was a part of the husbandry. After that first year, by this time, Fred Presant had taken to become my off-campus mentor, and he would give me wisdoms that were very valuable and offered me a job in my second summer, in what they called the receiving warehouse of master feeds. That warehouse had receipts of field husbandry commodities, plus from packing plants from 47 different countries at one time.
Francis Jamison Bell (00:20:10):
And so here was a warehouse with commodities that one would never know about, and it all went back to feel husbandry for the vegetables, all kinds of beans, all kinds of products. However, at the end of that summer, I went back to college, and at that time, then, I'm beginning to specialize in field husbandry. And then Mr. Presant said, "It is time now for you to go to Western Canada and get an observation of the agriculture of Western Canada for its importance in supplying grain, not only to Ontario, but to the rest of the world." And so, they arranged for me to go and get jobs, and my first job was in Manitoba sewing spring oats. At the end of the sewing, I arranged to be transferred to a summer follow job in Wawota, Saskatchewan, with a widowed woman and a Bernardo home man that I shall never forget his kindness as a teacher with his very, very thick English accent.
Francis Jamison Bell (00:21:36):
When he said to get on one side of the cow and I was getting on the other side, he said, "T'other side! T'other side!" And after the completion of that summer following, I moved on to Alberta and got into the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act for two months down on their many Berries Experiment Station. While there, Dr. McConkey sent me a note. "Try to get into the harvest operation of Howard Wright, formerly a resident of agriculture around Guelph. He is at Calgary, Alberta." I was able to consummate that, get the job, to learn that Howard Wright had been the first boyfriend of Rietta's mother, and it was Dr. McRostie that displaced him.
Francis Jamison Bell (00:22:35):
He then said, "When you go to Guelph, you will meet someone, Dr. McRostie," and I said, "I don't know him." "He's there now on the faculty." They were, of course, good friends by this time. When I got back to Guelph, I went to see Dr. McRostie, and we struck up this relationship much before knowing Rietta.
N.R. Richards (00:23:03):
Well, I wondered how I was going to get Dr. McConkey involved. I wanted to develop your how you came to know Rietta. I think this is very interesting, the way you have unraveled it. Well, Dr. McConkey really left a great impression, didn't he?
Francis Jamison Bell (00:23:28):
Yes, he did.
N.R. Richards (00:23:29):
He was a very committed person.
Francis Jamison Bell (00:23:31):
N.R. Richards (00:23:32):
And he seemed to be able to communicate to the students this outreach and global importance. I'm thinking students were very fortunate to have him as a professor.
Francis Jamison Bell (00:23:53):
Dr. McConkey, during the lectures, really painted a global picture of agriculture. Now I knew Dr. McRostie only in my final year, and when I graduated, I was offered a job at Masterfeeds. And after two years as field man for Gray County, Bruce County, Muskoka, every place where the snow fell deep in the winter and hardly anybody bought anything, that was where they put the young man going out first.
N.R. Richards (00:24:31):
Francis Jamison Bell (00:24:32):
While I was in there, I saw that I had not enough training. And Dr. McRostie, in talking with me, I used to visit him quite often after graduation, he said, "Did you ever think of Cornell?" Now, this is something for other people to think about. Cornell. I said, "Cornell is some place in heaven. Where is Cornell? I know the name, but where is it?" And he arranged to take me to Ithaca and introduced me to Dr. H. H. Love, who was Dr. McRostie's major professor at Cornell. Dr. McRostie was his first student. I was his second last student.
N.R. Richards (00:25:27):
Isn't that interesting?
Francis Jamison Bell (00:25:28):
And it was Dr. McRostie that took me on out into the foreign world. I mean, Dr. Love took me out into the foreign world.
N.R. Richards (00:25:36):
Yes. But Dr. McRostie certainly influenced the importance of graduate studies in the crop science field husbandry area, because that department over the years has had a great reputation for supporting graduate students.
Francis Jamison Bell (00:25:56):
If we would attach to Dr. McRostie something, it would be his inspiration to his students for excellence, no other way, and had a time perspective. If the student didn't grasp it today, give him time. He will see it under the proper stimulation.
N.R. Richards (00:26:25):
Unless we don't come back to it, you made reference to Fred Presant, who was associated for many years with industry. He influenced a lot of young people as well, didn't he?
Francis Jamison Bell (00:26:44):
Fred Presant is one of the most important men in agri industry history for guiding and stimulating young men to go forth and do better. And we find many, many of his students, so-called students, who have gone out and taken over and developed a tremendous thing for Ontario agriculture. Mainly Ontario agriculture, as I see the ones, but he had connections with various universities, especially was Dr. Hutt of Cornell, who was an early poultry geneticist, and he also was very deeply involved with the nutrition science of that time, which was not very well known. There was only protein. A few general terms were known at that time, but it was Fred Presant who put that thing as a nucleus to be dissected and to be understood, downed in ever-increasing amounts of knowledge. That was Fred Presant.
N.R. Richards (00:28:25):
Just to put this chit-chat into a bit of a current setting, I know you were back on campus in June for your 55th anniversary from graduation. Fred Presant was on campus that weekend as well. Did you have an opportunity to chat with him?
Francis Jamison Bell (00:28:46):
Yes, we did. We have remained very close friends throughout that whole period of time since I worked for Masterfeeds and left Masterfeeds, and we have a Christmas card exchange every Christmas. About Fred Presant, he looks like an emerald. He never fades. If you look at him, you look at his face, you look at his smile, it immediately takes something and says to you, "Jamie, what have you done to make the world better since I saw you last?" That's what you get when you meet Fred Presant.
N.R. Richards (00:29:34):
That's a nice way to say it. My way of thinking, there's one word that characterizes Fred Presant, and he so richly deserves it. Gentleman.
Francis Jamison Bell (00:29:49):
N.R. Richards (00:29:51):
Always the gentleman.
Francis Jamison Bell (00:29:52):
Always the gentleman.
N.R. Richards (00:29:55):
Well, that's a little bit of a side, but it was a very appropriate one. We have you up to graduation in '37. Is there anything about the graduation that you particularly recall?
Francis Jamison Bell (00:30:11):
The graduation, I recall, mainly, that I had established a relationship with a group of young men. There was Gord Overend. There was Jerry Perry. There was Gord Nixon. There were many, many people. Oh, there was that Mike Miller. People that I admired, and became acquainted with a new generation.
N.R. Richards (00:30:53):
Jamie, how many of those chaps that you alluded to were back for your 55th?
Francis Jamison Bell (00:31:02):
I think we had about one half, and I can't say the number. I knew the number. Gord Overend gave me the number. I think 75. 75 were back there for the 55th.
N.R. Richards (00:31:19):
That's a pretty good turnout, isn't it?
Francis Jamison Bell (00:31:20):
Oh, we were all so surprised. One comment was that the party... Well, not the party poopers. The party boys of the early days were either missing or coming on crutches. Now that isn't a kind thing to say, but this is a joke that Gord Overend and I made after the day. But I would make the point that if you go to school, if anyone is listening to this, look after your health from the very beginning. Don't play with it because you cannot recoup it. That is one thing.
N.R. Richards (00:32:03):
It seems to me like a very good Aggie analysis of what has happened. Well, I gathered following your graduate work at Cornell, that you began your career in international activities. Is that right?
Francis Jamison Bell (00:32:28):
It was seven years after graduating from Cornell. Again, circumstances, not planned. My first job out of Cornell was an assistant professor in agronomy at University of Nebraska. And while there, after one and a half years, Professor Calwell from North Carolina State College came on a recruiting trip and asked me if I would join. He was very kind. He went to Professor Chaim, head of the agronomy department, and the three of us sat down. Bill Carl will explain, "This is what we have to offer Jamie if he will come to North Carolina," and Professor Chaim replied, "Jamie, take it."
Francis Jamison Bell (00:33:28):
Now, there was a man, Dr. Chaim, who also had a vision for the development of young people. I went then to North Carolina State to develop there. The Pedigreed Seed program, North Carolina state was just coming in with corn, with small grain, with forage crops, and there must be a seed program in order to stabilize the quality of the product that was going to be used by farmers. That set up then several organizations, and I was sent to the west coast for a training period to see how that system was organized at the production level.
Francis Jamison Bell (00:34:26):
After five years, Dr. Love from Cornell had been contacted by his Thai students, "Please come to Thailand and set up the first technical rice improvement program in Asia," and Dr. Love then got in touch with me. Would I be willing to go for two years to be with him as a leave of absence? Strangely, seven of his team in Thailand were all his students at Cornell, and three of them were colleagues of mine at the study at Cornell. So we were not Thais, Americans. We were a family. We were a family and treated that way.
N.R. Richards (00:35:16):
Coming back to North Carolina, Calwell was head of the agronomy department?
Francis Jamison Bell (00:35:24):
He was head of the agronomy department, succeeding Ralph Cummings.
N.R. Richards (00:35:30):
Yes. And he placed a great deal of emphasis on mathematics statistics, did he not, for his graduate students?
Francis Jamison Bell (00:35:41):
The college placed a lot of emphasis on that. The college placed a lot of emphasis. There was Gertrude, the famous statistician. And if you went to North Carolina in agriculture as a student, you immediately were pushed into that very strict, severe achiever discipline.
N.R. Richards (00:36:06):
If my memory serves me correctly, Ford Stinson took his graduate work there.
Francis Jamison Bell (00:36:11):
That's right. Ford Stinson did graduate work.
N.R. Richards (00:36:13):
And isn't it interesting that his work in Rhodesia, in the international area, like the activity that you became involved in? Well, this point you're making that as you moved into the international arena, you were associating with people with whom you had studied in the same environment.
Francis Jamison Bell (00:36:39):
There were three of us out of the same classroom. We used to make discussions about this subject, that subject, and the rest of them had preceded myself and my little group. They had preceded us. And in order to give Dr. Love recognition, one of that group went to the Minister of Agriculture and said, "We must have a rice department to show our respect for Dr. Love." This is on one day. And on the next morning, there is a rice department, and [inaudible], who was a graduate student from Cornell, a student of Dr. Love, became the director general. That's how fast it worked.
N.R. Richards (00:37:33):
And over what period of your lifetime were you involved in this kind of activity?
Francis Jamison Bell (00:37:40):
From 1955 until 1983 as an employee, and from 1983 until now as a volunteer. Both my wife, Rietta and I are volunteers. I try to stay away from consulting, so I use the word development technologist, and Rietta is the research librarian. She brings all the material, and we spend about $3,000 a year on getting material that we can impact where we go in Thailand. I would say to try not to use too much time. In the volunteer thing, we have brought 11 companies into Northeast Thailand that has employed now 6,000 farm families, which is about 85% of the total irrigation area population producing high-value crops, mainly hybrid vegetable seeds. Now some hybrid flower seeds with the Heinz company made its introduction there for tomato paste and half of the hybrid tomato seed now, as I have been told, is produced in that project for the world. Half of the world's hybrid tomato seed is produced in that project.
N.R. Richards (00:39:36):
What is the mechanism for the distribution of the information that you and Rietta are gathering together?
Francis Jamison Bell (00:39:47):
We are in a center. We were invited to come to an irrigation site where the objective was to transform rice growing one crop in the monsoon season to a multiple cropping operation using irrigated land at the dry season and the wet season. There is a group of Thais dedicated, and we focus on the introduction of world technology and responsibility by farmers is what will bring the whole thing about. So you might call us like being in an R&D center, bringing in this information, a discussion among ourselves, a discussion with the agri industry sector, and going out to the villages of the area and making a discussion with the farmers. What do they see as opportunistic for diversification? And so now, livestock and dairying are now piling in at the wish of the farmers.
N.R. Richards (00:41:14):
And it really isn't greatly different from your first experience with Masterfeeds up in Gray and Bruce counties in getting the information out to the user level, the people tilling the soil.
Francis Jamison Bell (00:41:35):
There's not much difference. There might be one point to note, and that is in the present time, we look at the farmer as a major teacher. In the Masterfeeds days, not many farmers knew much about nutrition, and we were like a major teacher, but responding to the economic needs of the farmers. And they were on very, very close to subsistence budgets, so we had to be careful what we did with that farmer. And so, it was a very careful operation.
N.R. Richards (00:42:18):
During this period of time, would you just give a bit of an overview of the countries with which you were associated? You've made reference to Thailand. What other countries were you involved with in your international activities?
Francis Jamison Bell (00:42:39):
It was supposed to be Thailand for two years, and Dr. Love came to me and said, "Mrs. Love is ill," at the end of one year. "Would you stay on longer? We don't want to get the program too changed around." I wrote North Carolina and asked if I could be extended, and they replied, "Either come back or resign," so I resigned. And then I was taken up by the Office of Foreign Agriculture Relations in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which later got transferred to the U.S. State Department. And after five years in Thailand, down to Indonesia, and there, it was the development of the corn program, which was rising up very quickly on the order of President Sukarno. After five years in Java, I was brought back to Thailand to be head of the agriculture mission of the U.S. State Department, and I was there for three years. And then, because of my connections with the university system and experiment station systems in Thailand, I was transferred to Laos to be head of the research system, taking Laotians and sending them to Thailand for trading on experiment stations and in agricultural schools.
Francis Jamison Bell (00:44:14):
So five years in Laos, and at that time, there was a crisis in Morocco between Simit and the Moroccan Ministry of Agriculture. However, I don't know, but I was sent there to quell the riot, to mediate. And by the application of principles and plant breeding, and trying to cut out phantom imaginations by either side, we were able to bring about a new contract. And after being in Morocco for three years, then the World Bank made a request to the state department for me to serve with them as the project director for agricultural projects in Northeast Thailand, where I had this background of experience.
Francis Jamison Bell (00:45:21):
Northeast Thailand and Laos are just one agricultural domain, and going there, then I finished and retired from that when Rockefeller Foundation asked Rietta and I to go to Sumatra in 1979 to set up a 12-experiment station network for the improvement of food crops. And so I agreed had to go there for two years to get that thing planned and implemented, but not to stay so long that I would be over the hill. Stay while you're winning. And I thought, because of our experience in Java, the staff in Java had risen to become director general for the whole food crops of Indonesia. And so, that is why Rockefeller wanted me to go, because I had a relationship with the director general that we could talk without being two different parties.
Francis Jamison Bell (00:46:37):
So after two years in Sumatra, the project got going. Today, the 12-experiment stations are going. We had just come back to Florida to really retire when an old Mandarin, Mr. Chung, came to Florida. Would I come and help design a new agri industry that would diversify the tobacco farmers of the Northeast? His company was dealing in tobacco for Philip Morris, and would I come and try to help him profile a new kind of agri industry? And so we did, and from that time on, we have been going back. We removed ourselves from the company profile to a profile of community development of an irrigation project, and so that's where we have been going every year.
N.R. Richards (00:47:49):
From this very, very large involvement over the years, have you...? This is a difficult question for you to respond to, but what do you view as the major changes you have witnessed in helping the developing countries, and what has been the [inaudible] contribution from those changes?
Francis Jamison Bell (00:48:29):
The major change, and you have to look at it over a period of 20, 30 years. The major change is the resource base that these countries have developed through the education system. If you go to Thailand, you will find hundreds of graduates from Canadian and American universities with the same level of knowledge that any of us would have that did not become so specialized. In fact, they are specialized now. So the spread of technology through Indigenous populations, if I could use that word, is a factor that we are not really recognizing in United States and Canada.
Francis Jamison Bell (00:49:29):
This resource base is now proposing policies of agriculture that are even better than an agricultural policy we would find in Canada or in United States, and let us go to Taiwan if we would like to get the immaculate policy. So the first change I see is this change not observed by many of the rise in the level of expertise in the field of agriculture, agricultural economics, agricultural sociology, rural culture. All of these things is now a very big dynamic mix with the role of women being paramount in the future of the development of these Third World countries.
N.R. Richards (00:50:22):
Do I interpret correctly, Jamie, that remarkable change in the human resource base, and taking advantage of the educational opportunities that have been presented to them?
Francis Jamison Bell (00:50:38):
From our countries, yes. You put it in a nutshell.
N.R. Richards (00:50:43):
Now, what about the physical resource base at this point in time in our own country, United States and Canada, where there is so much concern about the deterioration of the natural resource base in the environment? How is this affecting the countries with which you've been associated?
Francis Jamison Bell (00:51:07):
The deterioration of the natural resource base is going on very rapidly in these countries, mainly because of a lack of the infrastructure to test soils, to give farmers the proper advice about the kinds of fertilizer, the kind of irrigation procedures to follow. These small, but very important details, which add up to either degradation or sustainability, are the factors that are now being overlooked.
N.R. Richards (00:51:57):
What future do you see there for arresting this sort of thing?
Francis Jamison Bell (00:52:20):
Let us take it in the most concrete form as in Taiwan, where they really were on a down skid ecologically. By having government policies administered through the farmer's associations, in which subsidies are directed at diversification, soil improvement, these things that go to make sustainable agriculture, plus every effort made to keep small farms as the production unit. And as such, Taiwan is locating small industries to give the farm families off-farm employment so that the farm families are still on the farm.
Francis Jamison Bell (00:53:17):
They are working on the farm and some of them work some of the time in these small factories. So you have a new micro eco-agriculture system that's developing. Now in Thailand right now, we have the upper hand in sustainability of the small farm family. It is in the small farm family that we get all those technologies brought out on the table, discussed, and where it is the sustainability of the soil. In every case, it results in a higher yield and lower cost of production. That's the key point, is to identify with the lower cost of production. That's where sustainable agriculture beats everything else.
N.R. Richards (00:54:17):
So this, included in that, is the intelligent use of chemicals, whether it is in herbicides or in fertilizers or whatever area the chemicals are used?
Francis Jamison Bell (00:54:32):
The intelligent use, and supported strongly by what we would call an off-farm integrated service to the on-farm management program.
N.R. Richards (00:54:44):
From your experience, you and Rietta had such a broad experience here. How do you rationalize on the rapid increase in population on a rural basis?
Francis Jamison Bell (00:55:05):
This rapid increase of population on a rural basis is very, very serious, not observed fully by those of us in United States or in Canada. The reason is that we still have territory that we are not really felt too crowded, but the riots that we are seeing now in these cities are coming from this rapid increase in population. I would put it this way. There are, of the 11 major countries over two cities, over 2 million people. United States now has 10 of them. So I see the population increase as being, together with a food supply, very critical and perhaps the end of our civilization. That's how I look at it. The more I study it, the more I say, "Population starvation," and I'm now adding disease. These three things are going to take us, unless we can get together and figure it out. And so I would put for that, the solution to our method of talking will be a global village relationship.
N.R. Richards (00:56:43):
And do you see those countries in the world where the birth rate is the highest that through this global concept, we might see a reduction in the birth rate and a pattern of population increase more related to the capacity of the physical resources to produce food?
Francis Jamison Bell (00:57:13):
The birth rate control is positively correlated with a religious background, and we will see where the certain religions, the population rate is going up, up, up, up. Other religions, the population is coming down, down, down, down. Now, not to mention a religion, but to say that it is very closely related to religion.
N.R. Richards (00:57:48):
And that's an interesting observation. We're coming to the last quarter, so to speak. And for those who are listening to this tape, I want to fill you in a bit in the setting where we are having our discussion. It's at Jamie's cottage where he spends a bit of each year in the Muskoka Lakes, and those interruptions, you may have heard the planes and the motor belts. You can sort that out from what we've been talking about, but it really is a beautiful setting, and how fortunate we are here in Ontario to have the richness of these freshwater lakes. I'm sure you would agree with that.
Francis Jamison Bell (00:58:41):
Anyone who has been to Muskoka and goes away and comes back says, "Muskoka, there's no place like it."
N.R. Richards (00:58:52):
Well now, Jamie, this has been most pleasant for me to chat with you. But in retrospect, would you give us your parting shot retrospect from the university standpoint? You see Guelph now, and was there what we talked about 55 years ago in retrospect, from a personal standpoint, and then I'll give you an open-ended one with her now.
Francis Jamison Bell (00:59:29):
I think I would have a comment to say that when I started at Guelph in the fall of '33, the world was a very small place almost. You had an origin at a county, and that was about it. Today, the world is a very, very big place, and I would hope that OAC would have some course that would show to the students how big, how diversified and how interdependent all these countries of production are. The amount of production is going up. The volume that crosses borders is going up. The thing about our problem has to do with the disunifying, and I don't want to get too much off this track. At Guelph, courses to let the students peek into the future of what the world looks like. How many countries are in this world? How many people are in this world? What's the standard of living? What are the main items? Now to make one point, if I have the moment here, go into the feeding of dairy cattle in Europe, mainly Holland and Germany. 10 million tons of cassava comes from Thailand that didn't do that 10 years ago-