Agricultural practices produce a variety of waste products or byproducts, such as animal faeces, material eroded from land, excess fertilizer, inorganic salts and minerals resulting from irrigation, herbicides and pesticides; to these may be added various infectious agents contained in wastes. Under simple agricultural systems, wastes from one harvest or form of animal husbandry could be used as a resource for another. With increasing specialization in primary production, however, there is less economic opportunity to use animal manure for fertilizer, for example.
The total quantity of such wastes is large. In the USA, for instance, the production of animal wastes exceeds that of human wastes by a factor of at least five on a biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) basis, seven on a total nitrogen basis, and ten on a total solids basis. Most developing countries have economies based predominantly on agriculture. With agro-industrialization increasing during the past three decades, many countries find themselves with a growing surplus of agricultural wastes such as rice hull, jute stalk, groundnut shell, bagasse and coconut husk and pith. These materials are available in large quantities and are presenting serious problems of disposal.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
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