A/MS Files, Lot 54 D 291, TCA Program1

Memorandum by the Technical Cooperation Administrator (Bennett) to the Director of the Management Staff (Heneman)

Subject: Program Responsibilities of TCA

Pursuant to our discussion yesterday morning I propose that the following principles should govern any consideration of TCA’s program responsibilities:

It is the responsibility of TCA to carry out basic technical cooperation programs in the underdeveloped areas as authorized by the Act for International Development. I consider the underdeveloped areas to include all countries where annual income is less than $250 per capita.
Basic technical cooperation programs are long-range programs which are designed over a period of years to increase food production, improve health and sanitation conditions, develop systems of elementary and vocational education and carry on other similar activities which lay the foundation for sound economic development.
The technical cooperation program is primarily a program of teaching and demonstration. It is a down-to-earth program that deals directly with villages and with people—with people who are barefooted, diseased and hungry. A fundamental problem common to all the underdeveloped countries is their inability to attain self-sufficiency in food production. The farmers work very small plots of land. Their problem can best be met not by large grants of funds, supplies or equipment but by helping people to develop simple improvements in methods and practices which they themselves will understand and carry forward. Such a simple program in my judgment can enable the people in many areas to double or triple their food production in a few years.
The technical cooperation program should utilize the techniques that have been perfected over a period of 90 years by the Department of Agriculture and the land-grant colleges, and by many private organizations. [Page 1645] It is an extension of the methods devised and proven over the past 8 years in Latin America. TCA has adjusted its approach, recruited and trained its staff, and developed working relationships with other organizations all directed toward the application of these methods.
We have been engaged in joint planning for technical cooperation programs with the countries of Asia and the Near East as well as with Latin America. We have already entered into agreements with them and have projects in operation. The programs being requested for 1952 and beyond for most of these countries are a continuation and expansion of what we have already started. It would be embarrassing not to follow through on these plans and agreements, or to change our objectives and methods of operation.
As I understand it, there are only a few of the 62 so-called underdeveloped countries where large-scale emergency and supply programs will be requested because of the critical political and military situations. The ECA should be authorized to handle such emergency programs. But the evil inherent in having two government agencies carrying on related programs in a few countries seems less serious than the greater evil of dividing a single program between two agencies for operation in different parts of the world.

It would be very disturbing abroad, and perhaps politically disastrous at home, to take to Congress a proposal that one agency would carry out an agricultural extension program in one country and another agency would carry out the same program in the neighboring country. I think it would be far simpler to arrive at methods of coordination in a few countries than it would be to build up two separate government agencies trained and equipped to carry on the same type of work and drawing on the same technical resources for support.

As I told you yesterday, I have the highest admiration for the job performed by ECA and I am sure that we in TCA are not equipped to carry on the types of programs for which EGA has become proficient. At the same time, I feel that TCA has now established itself both with the underdeveloped countries and with the land-grant colleges and other sources of technical support at home as the agency best equipped to carry out the long-term programs of technical cooperation in all of the underdeveloped areas.

  1. Consolidated administrative files of the Department of State for the years 1949–1960.