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No. 5 (Spring 1953)
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ITALY (continued from page 29)

peasant people and their problems. The method of effecting land development and closer settlement in Italy has some resemblances to our own Maori land development.

The Italian plan provides for the general development of 6,800,000 acres in Southern Italy and the islands. After spending about £60 million on this area in twelve years, the Italian Government expects to have fully developed it, and provided full employment for an additional million people. Most of the money is to be spent on land development — swamp reclamation, irrigation, drainage services and so on.

At the same time a law was passed, very hotly contested but quite inevitable, to expropriate many of the large estates of Italy, often more or less idle, and capable of feeding many of the unemployed peasants who were in a worse state than ever after the war. These large estates have existed in Italy ever since the beginning of Christianity, and even earlier. In fact, the ancient Romans knew them by exactly the same name as is still in use today: latifundia.

Almost 1 ½ million acres of this land was bought from the owners, mostly in South Italy and Sardinia. The government was careful to take most land from the worst managed estates. In 1952, 374,000 acres of this area was distributed to 34,977 peasant families. Thousands of similar allotments took place in Sicily. It is expected that the whole of the expropriated area will be distributed by the end of the year. As may be seen, the scheme allows each family about ten acres on the average. Where the land is suitable for olive groves and vineyards even smaller areas are quite economic by Italian standards. Land is given to settlers in a semi-improved state. The settler must complete development, with the technical, financial and social help of the government. After two years he obtains title if he is satisfactory. The debt has to be repaid in 30 years. A few hundred of these properties already contain State-built homes; many thousands are yet to be erected. In some places the government is building entire villages. Of the money so far spent more than half was on implements, that is, tractors and other modern machinery, much of which has been distributed to settlers. This machinery has already greatly improved yields of crops.

It is gratifying that the Italian Government has been helped in this great work by American and British finance, and that our victory has brought progress to these charming people, victims of an age-old poverty.