The Philippines used to be regarded as the "rice bowl" of Asia, but today the islands are dependent on rice imports to meet the staple needs of its people. The cost of these imports is met by revenue raised by, among other cash crop commodities, exporting coconut and its derivatives. In theory, the international coconut trade provides stable and high revenue earnings for its producers, but according to Philippine government figures, 75 percent of coconut farmers live below the official poverty line. Increased pressures from the country's land-owning class has meant that traditional peasant land tenureship rights have been superseded by deeds of title held often by absentee landlords. In social terms the expansion of coconut exports has led to the impoverishment of small farmers who twenty years ago were able to secure a good living directly from the land.
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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