A People Uplifted
Another interesting case is that of Farmer Kostas Pogonides of the village of Makriyalos. In 1933, Farmer Pogonides became acquainted with Agriculturist Theodorou. His farm consisted of fifty-five stremmas, which were planted as follows: thirty-eight stremmas in wheat, fifteen in corn, and two in oats. In 1934, Theodorou had won the confidence of Pogonides sufficiently to induce him to plant an improved variety of wheat, use selected heads for his next year's seed, and put in five stremmas of vetch. These few improved practices resulted in an increase of 4,300 drachmas. Farmer Pogonides used this additional income to complete his little house which had been started some years before. In 1935, Farmer Pogonides added a few more improved practices. It is sufficient to state that these improved practices resulted in an increase of 9,307 drachmas in his income. This money was used to pay off back debts which he owed. In 1936, he enjoyed the benefits of a few additional improvements. One of these which brought in a little extra income was a vineyard that just came into bearing. This year, he and Theodorou figured that there were 5,000 added drachmas directly traceable to these improvements. With this money, he made his first deposit in the savings bank. During this period, Pogonides had built a sanitary latrine and had screened his house.
The story of Yanis Sepkas of the village of Ano Kopanos can best be told by quoting a little personal sketch just as it was turned in to us by Demosthenes Economou:
"Farmer Yanis Sepkas is an industrious and simple old man who attracted my attention from the first time I met him in 1935. Therefore, I made a special effort to know him better and to cultivate his friendship. At first, I would meet him after church on Sundays, as he was the chanter; and on the way home, we would discuss certain agricultural matters. Later, I accompanied him a few times to his fields, where I watched him as he carried out some of his ideas.
"One day, when I was with Sepkas, I saw him planting his cotton by broadcasting the seed (as a matter of fact, one hundred per cent of this village were planting cotton at this time in this way; we have reduced this to about thirty per cent). I sat down and watched him for a while; and then when he returned to my side of the field, we entered into some discussion concerning the advisability of planting cotton in rows. I pointed out the value of this practice and the result was I succeeded in getting him to plant about ten rows right then and there. This was the beginning of a much closer cooperation.
"In the fall of that year, I managed to meet Sepkas at his cotton field just as he was collecting the bolls. On that very day, he agreed to plant two stremmas of vetch for hay on some of his fallow land. I encountered very little difficulty in inducing Sepkas to try this crop, which fact was apparently due to the huge success he had enjoyed from the cotton which he had planted in rows.
"In the winter of 1936, I requested the Government Agricultural Office to appoint Sepkas officially as a member of my agricultural committee for that village. Sepkas proved to be an able assistant and he was most cooperative and very effective in bringing about all kinds of agricultural improvements in his village. At about this time, he bought a spike-tooth harrow and an iron plow. With my assistance, he received a loan of 8,000 drachmas from the Agricultural Bank to promote silk." (It is of interest that the Agricultural Bank had a confidential arrangement with Economou whereby he was requested to approve all individual loans made to farmers by the bank.) "With a few local materials which he had himself, he was able to build a fine little room which served very satisfactorily as a silk-worm nursery. To support this new enterprise, Sepkas planted one hundred and fifty mulberry trees. Also, this year, he changed to an improved variety of wheat and disinfected his seed.
"In 1938, he increased his vetch planting to five stremmas and thirty other farmers put in the crop for the first time.
"In 1937, Farmer Sepkas rebuilt his little home with a loan secured from the Agricultural Bank. In 1938, twenty-eight progressive farmers of the village followed his example. All of these new homes included certain improvements, both for more comfortable living and for more economical use. These included a sanitary latrine, at least the bedrooms screened, a fenced-in garden, and a small pen for a few chickens. Yanis Sepkas was the first farmer of the village to start keeping a complete set of farm accounts.
"I would say that Yanis is my chief supporter in promoting every new improvement that I attempt to introduce. The position and esteem which he enjoys among his fellow villagers, the result of his honesty and industry, are the chief factors that help me to get in touch with all the other native farmers of this village that has few refugees. As you know, these native farmers represent the most unapproachable element, but with the help of Yanis, we have quietly and gradually brought about many changes in their farm practices and very considerably improved the economic condition of these people."
The gradual spread of improved practices became so extensive that it would be difficult to present a complete picture of the situation that existed within the short space of a few years. In the table that follows nine of the more important farm practices are tabulated, showing their gradual increase during a period of five years.
By way of completing the picture of achievement suggested by this small table we might mention the following. In six years of effort ending with 1938, eight men working in forty-eight villages made the following contributions to an improved agriculture.
3,224 farmers planted 10,064 stremmas of vetch.
1,460 farmers planted 14,612 stremmas of wheat representing an improved variety or a better method of cultivation.
2,131 farmers planted 8,988 stremmas of dryland cotton.
265 farmers planted 18,621 mulberry trees.
2,812 farmers grafted 32,072 wild trees, also 45,755 fruit trees of various kinds were planted.
141,391 forest trees were planted.
From the examples already given, the few case histories cited, and from a study of the tabulation of these few among the many improved practices we sponsored, it should be clear to the reader why the program gathered a momentum of its own.
In the beginning of our work in Macedonia, we had wondered rather uneasily how long we would have to keep pushing various improved practices before they could be expected to be generally adopted. I can hardly overestimate our elation when we discovered that we didn't have to keep pushing at all once a new method had really taken root. The big problem was to get the first farmer to try the first improved practice. For as the peasants of Macedonia, working side by side with our agriculturists, came to realize that we were not bothering them with needless experiments and wind-blown theorizings, they grew to trust us. And when an improved practice resulted in more cash in hand, the problem of pushing the practice was solved, for then the peasants would clamor for the very instruction about which they had been skeptical before.
We have shown, in citing individual cases, how improved farm practices resulted in increased income by appreciable amounts. For the year 1936 we made a systematic study of the increased income due to the improved farm practices adopted that year by the cooperating farmers of our eight agriculturists in the forty-eight villages. The figures are highly significant. We present first the analysis that was prepared covering Zoulamoglou's achievements in the Episcopi area.
As a vital part of this study it is important to know the cost of maintaining this program during this same year. There were the following major items of expense:
Salaries of eight agriculturists for twelve months
Transportation of eight agriculturists (same period)
Expenditures made for seeds, fertilizers and other types of project assistance
Total year's expenditure for above major items
ANALYSIS OF THE IMPROVED PRACTICES AND ADDITIONAL INCOME FOR THE SIX VILLAGES OF EPISCOPI AREA 1936
Farmers Extent [***] Additional income derived from adoption of improved practices
1. Disinfecting wheat seed
2. Improved wheat varieties
3. Cultivated wheat
4. [*] Vetch for hay
5. [**] Alfalfa
6. Growing cotton
7. Vegetable garden
9. Poultry houses
10. Improved pigs
1,000 str. 5% increased yield 4 okes per str. (4,000 okes at 7 dr.)
1,021 10% increased yield 8 okes per stremma (8,168 okes at 7 dr.) 57,176
2 10% increased yield 8 okes per stremma (16 okes at 7 dr.)
125 100% increased income [*] 300 okes per stremma (37,500 at 2 dr.)
289 Gross income per str. 2,000 drs. less usual corn income 800 drs. or total 1,200 drs. (289x1,200drs.x1/3 [**])
5,145 Average addl. gross income by substituting cotton for corn and sesame: 320 drs. per str. (1,000 str. x 320)
Est. value per farmer 1,000 drs.
10 Addl. gross income by subs. hemp for corn 600 drs. x 10 str.
5 Est. inc. in egg production per bird 10 eggs x 30 birds (300x1 drs.x 5)
4 Est. inc. income per pig 300 drs. x 4
*. Vetch was planted usually on fallow land. The soil improvement is
**. One-third of the alfalfa acreage is taken since two-thirds of the farmers might have planted it without inducement by our agriculturist.
***. These estimates are highly conservative as no value was placed on improved practices the income from which is difficult to estimate accurately.
#. 310 separate individuals are represented in this number.
A somewhat more abbreviated summary of all eight areas is given here below.
Number of agriculturalist
Number ofimproved practices promoted in the area
Farmer practice units involved
Increased income due directly to adoption of improved practices
Zoulamoglou Episcopi 10 709 Drs. 693,988
Economou Naoussa 4 296 541,400
Argyropoulos Verria 8 429 284,096
Kotaris Xehasmeni 10 293 272,704
Azas Edessa 5 116 178,200
Mikos Porroia 7 181 228,100
Harlamides Kilkis 11 477 342,132
Theodorou Katerini 5 1,280 2,896,500
TOTAL INCREASE IN FARM INCOME FOR EIGHT DISTRICTS DURING THE YEAR 1935-36 ............ Drs. 5,437,120
It will be noted that the above costs do not include American supervision. However, to do so would result in a distorted picture of the normal situation. Such supervision was necessary only because of the demonstration nature of this program and our special relationships w4th the Greek government. These figures were presented in due time to the proper officials in the Ministry of Agriculture. Their significance was immediately appreciated and it may be stated that this study proved to be an important factor in the final integration of this part of the Macedonian program. The really important item for us to consider is not the number of improved farm practices that were adopted, nor even the very considerable increase in income that resulted therefrom. The vital question is how this money was used, the extent to which these people were able to improve their mode of life, to enjoy more abundant living, to become spiritually and materially uplifted. We have already given some indication as to what took place in one or two of the cases that were cited on earlier pages. We can recall, for instance, how Farmer Pogonides of Theodorou's area applied each increase in income to some improvement on his farm or in his home situation. First, he completed constructing his dwelling, then he paid off back debts, purchased a cow, and bought clothing for his family, and finally was able to make his first deposit in a savings bank. It is easy to visualize the gradual rise to some semblance of independence which this man and his family enjoyed. Perhaps Theodorou himself had something to do with the wise use of this additional income. Or perhaps the Home Demonstration Center which was located in this village had its influence; or the reading room; or the radiating enthusiasm of Apostolis Koskinides, who saw to it that Pogonides with some of his extra income built a decent latrine and screened his home.
It may be recalled that Demosthenes Economou induced twenty-eight families in just one of his villages to build more comfortable homes. These homes were constructed out of loans received from the agricultural bank, but they were made possible only as a result of the improved financial risk which these men represented.
There were still other cases that we find in our records and hundreds of others of whom we have no account. From among those that we know, we might mention five cooperating families of one area that were persuaded to undertake silk culture on a small scale after this industry came to be profitable to promote. The first year they made the attempt, these five men secured ten thousand drachmas over and above their normal income. A study was made as to how this additional income was used and we discovered the following facts:
Three families, representing a total of fifteen persons, purchased new shoes for all their members. All five families bought new clothing for half their members, or a total of fourteen persons. One family used part of this money to hire extra men to help harvest cotton at the proper time. Two families reported using their extra income to purchase better food, which was mainly sugar, olives, and olive oil. All five families reported purchasing a few additional farm tools, such as hoes, sickles, and harrows.
It is obvious that improvements of this kind, once under way, spread almost by geometrical ratio. These people now had more energy, as well as more efficient tools of production.
Then, there is the case of Farmer Kosmides, who finally agreed to permit his son to undertake for him the growing of five stremmas of cotton. The agriculturist secured the best possible seed for that area from the Cotton Institute. He furthermore supervised very carefully every step of this project. The boy worked hard and secured a good yield. From the first-grade cotton alone, a total of nine thousand eight hundred drachmas was secured, all of which was entirely pure gain. The sale of the second-grade cotton brought in sufficient to equal the income normally secured from this field.
In Macedonia, project boys did not gain full title to the income from their projects, as is so frequently the case with more fortunate American boys. But, as a part of his family, this boy reaped a direct benefit, for his father used the money in the following ways:
Paid back to the Agricultural Bank on debts which he owed Drs. 4,000
New clothing for the family 2,000
Extra supplies of groceries for the winter 1,000
Down payment on a Singer sewing machine for his wife 1,500
Purchased one pair of large black pigs 500
Balance unaccounted for 800
Total Drs. 9,800
Another method of measuring the beneficial way in which this increased income was translated into more comfortable, more abundant living—into a people uplifted—was the amount of money invested by communities in cooperative agricultural enterprises, such as purebred bulls, cooperatively owned agricultural machinery; in the home welfare programs, for contributions to the home demonstration centers, maintaining baby well-clinics, and many of the other activities promoted by this department and financed in part by the communities; by the enormous number of community projects promoted by Apostolis Koskinides and financed almost entirely by the communities in which he worked; and, finally, by reading rooms, circulating libraries, playground equipment, music clubs promoted cooperatively with the villages by Theodore Pays.
When our auditors discovered that most of our programs were financed in large part by the individuals and communities with whom we worked, they wisely suggested that we submit authenticated statements of such contributions. In this way, we enjoyed a reliable method of showing to our constituency how it was that we produced so much with so little. Drawing upon these figures that are to be found in our annual reports, we discover that the following expenditures were made in our demonstration area by the various communities concerned during the three years indicated:
These expenditures for higher standards of living were made possible, in large part, by the increased incomes we have noted above. They came from the community budgets. These budgets were not only voted by the village councils and approved by the prefect of the district, but also they were passed on to the individual members of the community in the form of self-imposed taxes which they themselves voluntarily assumed. In addition, there were the scores of homes screened, the hundreds of private latrines constructed, the thousands of little individual items of farm and home improvement, the cost of which we did not attempt to record.
From our ten years of experience with these Macedonian folk, we learned many valuable lessons in rural reconstruction. We discovered, for instance, that agricultural progress among a primitive people cannot be imposed from without. It is brought about from within. Nor is it the result, in the final analysis, of big ideas or grandiose schemes or radical changes in age-old methods. It represents rather the sum total of a multitude of little improvements applied, for the most part, to the traditional enterprises.
Finally, we learned that better methods of farming for people in retarded sections of the world are not usually demonstrated on well-equipped farms by college-educated, high-salaried agriculturists who could not possibly hold their own in extracting a livelihood from a centuries-old soil. Instead, it is brought about by zealous agricultural leaders, perhaps these same college-educated men, who carefully, patiently, and painstakingly win the confidence of their people and then induce them to accept simple but fundamental farm practices that, in their eager hands and on their own land, will result in higher production and better family incomes. And we learned also that with proper direction these added resources went at once into higher standards of living.
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