Tuesday, 30 December 2008
Não se deicidiram que forma gramatical haviam de usar... Fica aqui sem autor para não criar mal entendidos.
Monday, 29 December 2008
Of course it is, but it makes research even more complicated.
If I'd measure the leaf size of Portuguese cabbage I could build the construct, define it my way and for the purposes of my research and measure leaves according to it. It would be very consistent.
But now I'm studying different types of farming and different types of livelihoods and people's opinion about them. But if everyone has different definitions, for "family farming" for example, I somehow loose the ground beneath my feet if I compare people's opinions about different constructs as if they were about the same construct. Of course it is in itself an interesting study to find out about the existing constructs, but will I be able to conclude anything about the consequences of those constructs on the sustainability of agriculture?
I would probably have to present my construct to the interviewees and ask their opinion about it...
I'm writing these relfexions because I find the implications of (a mild form of) social constructionism fascinating...
Thursday, 11 December 2008
Because all the illusions and optimism of the first year are gone. You have to reckon that you won't change the world in 3 years. You realize how much hard work and perspiration it takes to write 500 original and meaningful words. You feel bound by conventions, whose reason to be only slowly dawn to you. You have no vision of how the thesis could look like and what it might be good for. Your colleagues are doing fieldwork in all parts of the world and you find yourself left alone with a pile of interviews (to be conducted).
This is pure pain and suffering. In the second year of PhD you join a church if you haven't done so before. You stop believing in Positivism; we call it "enlarging the horizon", becoming more open-minded by force of circumstances. You realize that the world is far more complex than you thought before. You realize how limited science is to understand the world. When your supervisor doesn't help, you call on Nossa Senhora de Fátima.
That's the learning outcomes of the second year. As the second year comes to a close you hopefully realize that you have reached almost 25% of your work in 2/3 of the study time. That makes you very happy indeed, because you thought you had achieved even less.
Full of a new enthusiasm you draw plans for the remaining research, inlcuding a completely new literature review, learning new methods and approaching the whole problem from a new angle. It is worth a couple of years of work, but that doesn't matter. The good thing is that you finally know what to research, and accept that no one cares about your Why.
Of course it's a bit scary to see the mountains of work for the 3rd year, but nevermind. Promise to go to Fátima and be faithful.
Saturday, 6 December 2008
This is absolutely hillarious. On the 6th of December St. Nikolaus descends to earth and visits the children, offering them nuts and sweets if they have been god during the year. St. Nikolaus has nothing to do with Christmas - that's when Christ was born. It is possible to hire students to visit children in Nikolaus disguise. That's what happens in this sketch, where the family is watching TV and no one takes a second of attention to welcome the "saint". Hillarious.
Monday, 1 December 2008
Saturday, 29 November 2008
OH! The sound of the Sekier kitchen in Zajezová!!! Where Peto Rasta was frying Sauerkraut pancakes on the big stove, plum jam was produced and apples dried...and I got to drink spicy Primula veris tea (besides Silvovcie, of course). I feel like "heading east".
Wednesday, 26 November 2008
It goes a bit too far.
There is supposedly no reality as such, just the social construction of knowledge and reality.
And who is constructing this reality?
Who constructed the socially constructed?
Neither the egg nor the chicken.
We come back to Steiner's example: the thought of a hot burning steel does not burn, but the steel does.
Does anything like a hot, burning steel exist or is it just socially constructed?
Is there a reality beside the text?
Is there a truth to be discovered?
I've got burned too many times to belive there isn't.
Monday, 24 November 2008
Yet another argument for sustainable agriuclture, that recycles nutrients as much as possible within the farm.
Saturday, 22 November 2008
The big, fat cat that slept on my bed yesterday because the landlady went into my room for no apparent reason and left the door open.
I like cats. But I also like hygiene. Therefore my love for cats unfolds solely when I meet them in the garden.
When I opened the fridge to put something on my shelf, a smelly meat or fish can with open lid I found. 1. I want a little shelf in the fridge, just for ME! 2. I can't stand smelly meats...I will never forgive that flatmate who cooked liver, when my room was next to the kitchen. In the evening when I want to boil some greens, the kitchen is occupied again with someone frying some meat. I can't stand the smell and decide to fast that evening; drink lots of tea instead.
When I want to go and have shower, someone leaps into the bath a second before me and stays forever.
I was about to say something unfair, but now the heating is working again. At over 60 Decibel. But fortunately radio AND TV are on maximum volume and therefore I can hardly distinguish the pumping of the heating.
Finally, after a week of intermittent searches, I discovered where my cookies landed. In the cupbord of one of the housemates, it's half gone already. Later when I decided to steal some cookies back they were all gone.
I reached a stage in which I stop searching immediately when I miss something. A private letter? My lotion? Oh, maybe a flatmate borrowed it. That's fine. I'm used to that.
Oh, "home, home"? Where that is? People are so impolite and tactless to ask! The last thing I considered to be "home", about a decado ago, my parents are scratching each others eyes out to decide what's gonna happen with it. Well, why do I make a fuzz of this? It's quite important for me to have a little private cave to lie back and relax after the mammoth hunt.
I want to go into my little garden,
Want to water my flowers
A hunchbacked little man stands there,
Starts at once to sneeze.
I want to go into my little kitchen,
Want to cook my little soup,
A hunchbacked little man stands there,
He's broken my little pot.
I want to go into my little bedroom,
Want to eat my little compote,
A hunchbacked little man stands there,
He's already eaten half of it.
I want to go to the attic,
Want to fetch some little wood,
A hunchbacked little man stands there,
He's already stolen half of it.
When I come at my little bench,
Want to pray a little bit,
The hunchbacked little man stands there,
Starts at once to speak:
Dear little child, please:Pray for the hunchbacked little man!
(Das bucklig Maennlein)
Thursday, 20 November 2008
(a hint from Steiner's Agricultural course: there is the seed chaos and there are the cosmic forces in the soil...)
Tuesday, 18 November 2008
"An guten Dingen fehlt es nicht,
zu lindern jeden Leids Gewalt.
...nur kennen müsste man sie halt."
i.e. The sage says in deep sorrow: "There is a cure for every ailment! The trouble is that we don't know them."
This is however not the case for agricultural marginalization, an ailment not well understood yet, for which plenty of solutions are known. But they cannot be implemented when ministers are whistling and looking sideways, consumers are not willing to pay for what is their birthright and farmers are not quite sure why all this stuff is happeing to them.
Sunday, 16 November 2008
Wednesday, 12 November 2008
The term colonialism may also be used to refer to an ideology or a set of beliefs used to legitimize or promote this system. Colonialism was often based on the ethnocentric belief that the morals and values of the colonizer were superior to those of the colonized; some observers link such beliefs to racism and pseudo-scientific theories dating from the 18th to the 19th centuries. In the western world, this led to a form of proto-social Darwinism that placed white people at the top of the animal kingdom, "naturally" in charge of dominating non-European aboriginal populations.
Copy-pasted from Wikipedia, due to its immediate relevance to current rural development practice: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colonialism
Tuesday, 11 November 2008
Sunday, 9 November 2008
It is a basic human need to go for a chestnut hunt in autumn and to be free to collect wild mushrooms... More: it is a human right. A right that is being denied to us.
How can I get so upset about this? What's the "mission of anger"?...soon will I know.
It is being at home in John Seymours books, more than in any place of the world. Thoreau's Walden sickened me because the character reminds me of an anti-social bloke, of an anti-social movement. Charousek's desire to drive Aaron Wassertrum into suicide...
But Seymour! Take those pages out of how to slaughter the pig, the rabbits and the sheep and the book is heaven!...
Maybe it's just my personal version of heaven, and I'm using Boyden (1989) to validate it, to say it's universal, the need to be close to nature and to be able to derive a secure living of the natural resoruces around you...
Thursday, 6 November 2008
There is this big project that wants to provide a PC for each pupil. They are distributing cheap laptops to primary school children! The project counts with the support of entreprises like Vodafone, TMN and Sonae; they are selflessly helping our children to have access to computers and the internet at a very young age, so that they will not be excluded of IT knowledge. It is hoped that Portuguese children will become cosmopolitan and well versed in modern technologies at a very early age. In fact, it is very likely that they will become completely dull if they are not allowed to develop key things they need to develop at that early age...
Wednesday, 5 November 2008
Sunday, 2 November 2008
With more than 200 scientific references read word by word and stored in my "Reference manager" I reached a point where I'm delighted when it is assumed as obvious that I will think for myself and not take in anything just because someone stated it before (which I refuse to do anyways).
"Der freien Wahrheit nur zu Leben,
Frieden mit der Satzung,
Die Meinung und Empfindung regelt, nie, nie einzugehen!"
Friday, 31 October 2008
Sunday, 26 October 2008
No que concerne à língua já achei curioso como na Península Ibérica se organizam encontros que não têm língua oficial e em que se recorre ao Portunhol. Mais estranho ainda num congresso científico em que normalmente se dá tanta importância a usar os conceitos certos e definí-los adequdamente (por mim até prefiro conceitos vagos e ideias boas do que ao contrário). Pensei ainda que apenas eu achava estranho o Portunhol ser língua oficial de congresso, mas durante o evento houve imensas oportunidades de ouvir as pessoas a queixarem-se que não percebiam a outra língua ou que ficavam cheios de sono nas apresentações na outra língua.
Gostava de comentar algumas ideias defendidas pelo Prof. Oliveira Baptista na sua apresentação, por ele ser tão influente nos Estudos Rurais em Portugal:
1. Oliveira Baptista insiste que o meio rural está a passar de um espaço de produção para um espaço de consumo. E ponto final. O meu problema está relacionado com o ponto final. Não há que descordar de que esta tendência se verifica: as estatísticas bem o comprovam. Mas aceitar que esta é a tendência e pronto é que não me parece desejável. Pois, quais são as consequências a nível ecológico e social desta transição rural? Creio que não se pode ficar na análise estatística de indicadores, temos que pensar se é isto o que a sociedade quer e o que a beneficia.
2. "Não posso estar de acordo com o lamento sobre o despovoamento do rural", "não devemos fazer do despovoamento um problema" e "quem foi, foi e não se arrependeu". É bastante óbvio que as pessoas que emigram dos espaços rurais Portugueses fazem-no sobretudo devido a pressões económicas, não por livre vontade. Como não conseguem ter condições de vida dignas no espaço rural vêem se obrigadas a procurar emprego em áreas mais ou menos longínquas. Julgo que isto sim é um problema. Um problema que não se pode analizar da perspectiva de que é indiferente para as rochas da Serra de haver lá perto moradores ou não. Claro que as medidas tomadas na primeira metade do século passado para manter a população no meio rural não foram as mais adequadas, mas não se trata de defender de fazer algo semelhante agora, mas sim de criar condições económicas e infraestruturas sociais para que uma vida digna em meio rural seja possível para quem a desejar.
3. Pareceu também que o Prof. Oliveira Baptista é contra os subsídios de apoio à agricultura em zonas desfavorecidas devido ao facto de ele achar que isto é subsidiar benefícios puramente privados. A ideia que foi defendida é que pagar um agricultor para ter uma propriedade pouco ou nada produtiva em boas condições beneficia apenas o agricultor. Não quero prolongar-me aqui a discutir subsídio sim ou não para áreas desfavorecidas, queria apenas frisar que os benefícios da manutenção da pequena agricultura não vão apenas para o proprietário, pelo que este argumento contra a subsidiação da agricultura em áreas desfavorecidas não é válido. É mais que sabido e provado que a manutenção de explorações marginais trás benefícios em termos de biodiversidade, agrobiodiversidade e serviços de ecossistemas para a população em geral, pelo que um subsídio público é justificável desta perspectiva.
Isto é o que tinha a dizer em relação à apresentação do antigo ministro da agricultura. Houve três outros assuntos e projectos que me interessaram bastante:
1. Reciproco - o sistema de venda directa de cabazes de pequenos agricultores para consumidores, tal como já acontece em Odemira, Setúbal e S. Pedro do Sul. (A Associação TAIPA e o projecto CriarRaízes têm mais informações!);
2. O projecto da Escola Agrária de produção de maçãs de variedades regionais Portuguesas em Modo de Prodção Biológico. As maçãs eram lindas e gostosas e acho que mudaram a minha noção de "maçã". Na minha ideia era uma fruta mais ou menos secante e sensaborosa e agora vejo as maçãs como uma verdadeira criação divina (apesar de que Deus deve ter tido um papel menor que os agricultores nos processos de melhoramento para produção das variedades tradicionais).
3. Soube de um projecto que está a decorrer desde os anos 80 no Vale de Sousa, de melhoramento participativo de variedades de milho regionais...
Saturday, 25 October 2008
Of course there is a sense of isolation when no one around us understands the meaning of what we say. Namely, the meaning which what we say has for us. But this does not mean that communication is impossible and we are left all alone on our shore.
Oskar Maria Graf uses a much more suitable allegory to explain these feelings of separateness. He describes humans as being prisioners. We are prisioners of ourselves. Prisioners of our educaion, our parents worldview, our own experiences, our believes. Our Shadow keeps us imprisioned. Our past and its imprint in our unconscious makes us see the world in a unique way, but it also is a hindrance to understand each other, because we tend to ignore the fact that everyone carries his baggage of past experiences around.
I have also to vehemently disagree with the pluralist and extreme social constructivist views that the world is not there as such, but it's all a matter of our own imagination and negotiations. All science would be completely nonsense and we would have to abandon any pursuit of knowledge if there was no objective world as such.
Friday, 24 October 2008
Tuesday, 21 October 2008
Saturday, 18 October 2008
Thursday, 16 October 2008
I was obviosly thinking "I know better. Think only what will happen if oil prices get up a bit more: transporting food around the world will not be profitable anymore and intensive, mechanized farming will be more expensive than manual labour on small & diverse fields". But I held my tongue, wouldn't convince this man anyways ("an old donkey doesn't learn languages"), and it was just being an excellent moment to gather "local perspectives".
But then I felt compelled to intervene with another form of environmental education... While the man was discussing, he ended his pack of cigarettes and threw it right on the field where we were standing. I couldn't believe my eyes and kept quiet. But when the same thing was repeated with a sweet, and he threw the little paper on the floor I said that I was very surprised about such a behaviour from a well educated man. He replied "the owner doesn't bother anyways" and wouldn't pick up his garbage. So I had to take it, but the man didn't feel the smallest embarassment!
How little this man cares about small-scale farms and farmers and what he thinks of them was revealed further by a story of his, which he recalled to the cute old peasant walking at his side with a freshly picked eucalypt stick to aid him walk. The man said that in his village there lived a peasant who believed in reincarnation and he sometimes said that people who would have sinned very, very much in their previous lives would be reborn as peasants. Because being a peasant is such a crux, such a punishment.
The man telling this story then grumbled for himself "yes, and you never know...", making me understand that he believes there is some truth to this story. Only very mean and evil people incarnate as peasants. So: why bother about them?
At the other hand it was very interesting to find belief in reincarnation in the Beira Interior, an ultra-catholic area since centuries. But the way how karma is understood is completely coloured by catholicism: you will be punished for your sins.Old man tells peasant that only very evil people incarnate as peasants...
Monday, 13 October 2008
Friday, 10 October 2008
What? You DON'T have a favourite reptile?
Are you mad or what?!
These little creatures are lovely in all aspects, they have beautiful eyes and can walk up a wall without a problem. Though, if they enter your flat in the 5th floor (as happened to me while I studied in Coimbra) they might be quite difficult to catch and take to a new habitat.
The sayings here in the villages about Osgas are "very realistic" as follows:
Osgas are very, very dangerous. Once there was a soldier, who had survived many battles in the war, and when he finally came home one day at night, his wife had made him a soup. However in the little house there was no electricity, just candles (the story is from the past). So the courageous soldier did not notice that an Osga fell into his soup. He took it for meat and ate it. Next day he died. Osgas are very dangerous indeed.
Wednesday, 8 October 2008
The first rain yesterday, after the hot, dry summer. Now the mountains were covered in fog the whole morning and I had to ask my little nephew where he had hidden the mountains? But now the sun is shining through the clouds and from my window I can see the mountains in the fog and the red leaves in the vineyard.
My work is a pile of blank paper and a number of scribbled papers that I need to get in order and transform into a data collection strategy, ASAP. But I do not really panic: I've got some good advice from my supervisors and as Portugal is so lovely today I don't mind coming back to do fieldwork ten more times ;-)
Thursday, 2 October 2008
Weil die Menge gleich verhöhnet,
Das Lebend'ge will ich preisen,
Das nach Flammentod sich sehnet.
In der Liebesnächte Kühlung,
Die dich zeugte, wo du zeugtest,
Uberfällt dich fremde Fühlung,
Wenn die stille Kerze leuchtet.
Nicht mehr bleibest du umfangen
In der Finsternis Beschattung,
Und dich reißet neu Verlangen
Auf zu höherer Begattung.
Keine Ferne macht dich schwierig,
Kommst geflogen und gebannt,
Und zuletzt, des Lichts begierig,
Bist du, Schmetterling, verbrannt.
Und so lang du das nicht hast,
Dieses: Stirb und werde!
Bist du nur ein trüber Gast
Auf der dunklen Erde.
[ Tut ein Schilf sich doch hervor,
Welten zu versüßen!
Möge meinem Schreibe-Rohr
Liebliches entfließen! ]
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Monday, 29 September 2008
canta que ninguém te afronta
que esta minha espada
corta dos copos até à ponta.
Eu hei-de morrer de um tiro
Ou duma faca de ponta
Se hei-de morrer amanhã
morra hoje tanto conta.
Tenho sina de morrer
na ponta de uma navalha
Toda a vida hei-de dizer
Morra o homem na batalha.
Viva a malta e trema a terra
Aqui ninguém arredou
nem há-de tremer na Guerra
Sendo um homem como eu sou.
Zeca Afonso encontrou esta melodia em Canas de Senhorim, perto da terra onde eu cresci, tinha um texto muito prosaico e banal e ele transformou nesta música heróica e de luta. Combina com Goethe's "Stirb und werde".
Thursday, 25 September 2008
Wednesday, 24 September 2008
Tuesday, 23 September 2008
Monday, 22 September 2008
Descansou afinal meu coração.
Do palácio encantado da Ilusão
Desci a passo e passo a escada estreita.
Como as flores mortais, com que se enfeita
A ignorância infantil, despôjo vão,
Depus do Ideal e da Paixão
A forma transitória e imperfeita.
Como criança, em lôbrega jornada,
Que a mãe leva ao colo agasalhada
E atravessa, sorrindo vagamente,
Selvas, mares, areias do deserto...
Dorme o teu sono, coração liberto,
Dorme na mão de Deus eternamente!
Antero de Quental
Friday, 19 September 2008
Portanto quando algum estrangeiro diz para mim com entusiasmo como adora os vizinhos, penso cá para mim: "espera até eles te porem fogo no mato!"
Thursday, 18 September 2008
Henry I Miller The Hoover Institution, 434 Galvez Mall, Stanford University, Stanford, California
"In April, the rector and external advisory board of Nürtingen-Geislingen University "urgently recommended" that a faculty member terminate his field trials, which had begun in 1996, on insect-resistant and fungus- resistant recombinant DNA- modified corn. [...]
Also in April, the Justus Liebig University announced that it would stop its planned initiation of two small field trials of insectresistant recombinant DNA-modified corn after protests by activists and local politicians [...]
Germany is the only country in which the universities--which are normally refuges dedicated to the advancement of knowledge and to the freedom to perform legitimate research--have fully capitulated to hoodlums. One might expect such deplorable, dastardly behavior in Russia or Sudan, but in a major Western democracy it is inexcusable. [...]
This capitulation to the vilest sort of antiacademic and antisocial behavior is grotesque and has dire implications. Violent, antitechnology, antisocial activists of all sorts will now smell blood. If German universities continue along this path of circumscribing a kind of "Entartete Forschung", 'degenerate research', and allowing persecution of practitioners of certain intellectual approaches, such as the use of the most precise and predictable techniques for genetic modification, the stridency and absolutism of the activists' pronouncements--and their violent tendencies--will only increase. It is not hard to draw parallels with some of the excesses of intellectual persecution in the 1930s, when the regime's objections to Entartete Kunst, or 'degenerate art', drove out such great minds and innovators as Albert Einstein, Emil Nolde, Max Beckmann, Marc Chagall, Vincent van Gogh, Henri Matisse, Edvard Munch and Pablo Picasso. Those who ignore the mistakes of history are destined to repeat them."
Come on, only two universities it seems have shown concerns over some genetic engineering research, it's highly grotesque to view it as a repression of the pursuit of true knowledge! In addition, the techniques used in genetic engineering are highly unpredictable and random, to claim they are precise is to try to make them seem to be something they are not. And, by the way, in what way does genetic engineering contribute to advance knowledge? And, most importantly, what legitimizes DNA manipulation?
Sunday, 7 September 2008
Monday, 1 September 2008
My gut reaction to this holy discourse full of compassion for the poor promoting some more wealth accumulation strategies is to think: "if only the rich & powerful would disappear - everything would be fine".
Sunday, 31 August 2008
The idea is very similar to James Scott "Seeing like a state": in order for a distant top-down management of natural resources to be put in place the system has to be simplified or thought of as a simple system, as a result of which it becomes simpler, because it's complexity is ignored. Efficiency of management is defined in narrow terms, e.g. agricultural yield. Sooner or later something goes wrong because part of the system has been ignored or outrightly been destroyed for it was belived to be non-essential. Then stakeholders call for more command-and-control measures. Firstly, state agencies cannot operate in a diffferent way, 'cause that's how they're organized to work, secondly, it's of economic interest to maintain short term benefits, and therefore a restructuring of the system is not desirable, but rather an end-of-pipe solution is advocated. This is what Holling calls "The pathology of natural resoucre management": command and control sooner or later goes wrong, because it ignores essential elements of the system, then the measures to solve a problem are as narrow as the measures which created the problem in the first place. The "soultion" of simplifying the system always causes new problems, and only preserving diversity, even if we don't understand what it's good for, can overcome the trap, they say.
I could write a PhD thesis about this little song and I would exceed the word limit. "Why does such a thing exist? What are the consequences?" These would be the research questions. I can't stop wondering, it's so absurd. Lily, help me interpret this phenomenon!!!
Wednesday, 27 August 2008
sing nicht ihre Lieder.
Geh doch in die Oberstadt,
mach´s wie deine Brüder,
so sprach die Mutter, sprach der Vater,
lehrte der Pastor.
Er schlich aber immer wieder
durch das Gartentor
und in die Kaninchenställe,
wo sie sechsundsechzig spielten
um Tabak und Rattenfälle,
Mädchen unter Röcke schielten,
wo auf alten Bretterkisten
Katzen in der Sonne dösten,
wo man, wenn der Regen rauschte,
Engelbert, dem Blöden lauschte,
der auf einem Haarkamm biß,
Abends, am Familientisch,
nach dem Gebet zum Mahl,
hieß es dann: Du riechst schon wieder
Spiel nicht mit den Schmuddelkindern,
sing nicht ihre Lieder.
Geh doch in die Oberstadt,
mach´s wie deine Brüder!
Sie trieben ihn in eine Schule in der Oberstadt,
kämmten ihm die Haare
und die krause Sprache glatt.
Lernte Rumpf und Wörter beugen.
Und statt Rattenfängerweisen
mußte er das Largo geigen
und vor dürren Tantengreisen
unter roten Rattenwimpern
par coeur Kinderszenen klimpern
und, verklemmt in Viererreihen,
Knochen morsch und morscher schreien,
zwischen Fahnen aufgestellt
brüllen, daß man Freundschaft hält.
Schlich er abends zum Kaninchenstall davon,
hockten da die Schmuddelkinder,
sangen voller Hohn:
Spiel nicht mit den Schmuddelkindern,
sing nicht ihre Lieder.
Geh doch in die Oberstadt,
mach´s wie deine Brüder!
Aus Rache ist er reich geworden.
In der Oberstadt
hat er sich ein Haus gebaut,
nahm jeden Tag ein Bad.
Roch, wie bessre Leute riechen,
lachte fett, wenn alle Ratten
ängstlich in die Gullis wichen,
weil sie ihn gerochen hatten.
Und Kaninchenställe riß er ab.
An ihre Stelle ließ er
Gärten für die Kinder bauen.
Liebte hochgestellte Frauen,
schnelle Wagen und Musik,
blond und laut und honigdick.
Kam sein Sohn, der Nägelbeißer,
abends spät zum Mahl,
roch er an ihm, schlug ihn, schrie:
Stinkst nach Kaninchenstall.
Spiel nicht mit den Schmuddelkindern,
sing nicht ihre Lieder.
Geh doch in die Oberstadt,
mach´s wie deine Brüder!
Und eines Tages hat er eine Kurve glatt verfehlt.
Man hat ihn aus einem Ei von Schrott herausgepellt.
Als er später durch die Straßen
hinkte, sah man ihn an Tagen
auf ´nem Haarkamm Lieder blasen,
Rattenfell am Kragen tragen.
Hinkte hüpfend hinter Kindern,
wollte sie am Schulgang hindern
und schlich um Kaninchenställe.
Eines Tags in aller Helle
hat er dann ein Kind betört
und in einen Stall gezerrt.
Seine Leiche fand man,
die im Rattenteich rumschwamm.
Drum herum die Schmuddelkinder
bliesen auf dem Kamm:
Spiel nicht mit den Schmuddelkindern,
sing nicht ihre Lieder.
Geh doch in die Oberstadt,
mach´s wie deine Brüder!
Saturday, 16 August 2008
Wednesday, 30 July 2008
O abandono ocorre fundamentalmente em Portugal, tal como nos restantes países da União Europeia, nas Regiões de Montanha, nas quais a existência de handicaps naturais, designadamente a topografia, a pequena dimensão das explorações e a baixa produtividade dos solos determinou inevitavelmente uma reduzida produtividade do trabalho."
Mas olhe lá...atão isso é tudo o que tem a dizer sobre o assunto? E o mercado agrícola comum da UE? Não nos lixou, não? Porque não explica as "outras causas"?...
Tuesday, 29 July 2008
Monday, 28 July 2008
The preliminary regional accounts of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for 2006 year, has shown increase growth rates, in real terms, above the national average (1,4%) in the regions of Centro (1,6%), Norte (1,7%), Algarve (2,5%), Autonomous Region of Madeira (2,8%) and Autonomous Region of Azores (3,3%); the region of Lisbon performed the lower growth (0,6%), among NUTS II regions. The analyses upon the new series (1995 – 2006) of the Regional Accounts (2000 benchmark year) shows clearly the reinforcement of the service activities in the output structure of the regions, and a slight increase in the regional disparities along the observed period."
INE report, 2008
i.e. regional disparities were already enormous and got even bigger.
The gap opening wide -
the greedy mouth
of economic growth.
Tendencies to be continued
bis der Tod uns scheidet. (until death us separates)
'Gaping at Famine', Tehelka, Sunday 19 July 2008, Vol. 5(8).
Info from Zareen.
Sunday, 27 July 2008
At the Uni of Kassel they did an experiment, treating oat plants with higlhy dilluted Valerian juice and observed a decline in the amount of plants having leaf lice! The susceptibility to leaf-lice, they say, is related to the plants amino-acid metabolism, therefore the highly dilluted Varlerain juice has to have an effect on the amino-acid metabolism of plants. (details at http://www.agrar.uni-kassel.de/bdl/?language=en&c=49)
Who says we need synthetic pesticides?
Ah, yes, remember now: Monsanto says that.
Saturday, 26 July 2008
Friday, 25 July 2008
At the same time I have to decide on the next fieldwork and there is A LOT I have to find out first to make my plans. But from the initial abstract "I want to know EVERYTHING!" I'm getting into a more concrete approach.
My summary was accepted for the Iberic Conference on Rural Studies - it's not Hollywood but it's okay :) Of course there is this big black cloud of doubt telling me: "But hey, this will not suffice to get you a PhD!", but hm: I might be on the right track. I hope writing this is not an act of hubris. ;)
P.S. - What I'm doing now goes under the title "Foodshed analysis", after all there's some sort of theory and frame that serves me (sometimes). :)
Thursday, 24 July 2008
Está tudo explicado. Gatos adoram a Valeriana, não se sabe bem porque. Ficam completamente loucos. Está claro que o Centranthus deve ter o mesmo componente que atrai os gatos que a Valeriana. Este gato não conseguiu resistir e teve uma tal exposição ao Centranthus que ficou com alergia. Tal qual eu quando adoro o cheiro de uma planta (tipo Tagetes sp.) e cheiro até ao momento que tenho um ataque de espirros e a partir de aí só de me aproximar da planta fico com alergia. Acho que agora era caso de isolar o componente comum entre Centranthus e Valeriana e depois aplicar proteomica etc e tal. Dava um doutoramento...
Wednesday, 23 July 2008
"The G8 is using the food crisis to promote their free trade agenda (Hokkaido, 9 July 2008)Reacting to the G8 Leaders statement on Global Food Security issued last night in Hokkaido, Via Campesina farmer leader Mr. Yoshitaka Mashima said: «We do not understand why the G8 leaders pretend to solve the food crisis with more free trade while it is the liberalisation of agriculture and food markets that continue to lead us to the current crisis. People need to eat local food to protect themselves from the instability of world markets. We do not need more imported food».
At a press conference today, farmers leaders said that the G8 governments were mistakenly using the current food and climate crisis to promote the free trade agenda that is serving large companies and not producers of food and consumers. The G8 leader's statement insists on reviving the agonising WTO negotiations and on preventing countries from regulating food exports.
However, small farmers around the world, men and women, have experienced the devastating effects of free trade and WTO policies on livelihoods and local food production. They defend the right of countries to protect their domestic markets, to support sustainable family farmers, and to market food in the countries where it is produced.
The G8 leaders statement also fails to address two major causes of the current food price crisis: speculation by major traders and transnational companies, and the development of agrofuel as a new source of energy. It is important to keep in mind that these root causes of the food crisis are the consequences of the neoliberal policies promoted by the G8 governments, the WTO, the World Bank and other institutions.
Finally, the G8 also explicitly promotes a new green revolution in Africa (the AGRA initiative) and genetically modified organisms (GMO) as a solution to the food crisis. The development of industrial agriculture, with the use of GMO seeds, large amounts of chemical pesticides, fertilisers and monoculture has left millions of farmers in debt. It has also destroyed land due to chemical contamination. Small farmers are kicked out of business only to be replaced by large agribusiness companies. This model of food production and distribution is based on the intensive use of fossil fuels and clearly contributes to the climate crisis.
The G8 statement talks about « fostering small holder agriculture ». However, Mr. Mashima said: « we are wondering how the world richest nations will support small farmers if they do not even allow them to enter the countries where they are meeting ». Nineteen Korean farmers from the international network Via Campesina were deported from Hokkaido airport on July 5 after being detained for 48 hours under the pretext that they could disturb the official meetings.
Peasants and small food producers are currently producing the very large majority of the world food. They promote small scale food production for local markets that create jobs and protect consumers health and the environment and respect human cultures and communities."
Tuesday, 22 July 2008
Vindo de onde vem nem é preciso ler para saber o conteúdo. Mas caso se esteja muito sonolento e com vontade de ter um mega-ataque de fúria é capaz de ser a ferramenta certa. Ainda não estive para aí virada...
Saturday, 19 July 2008
Thursday, 17 July 2008
Sócrates (o do antigamente): "Só sei que nada sei".
Isto leva, no mínimo, a uma crise epistemológica.
Wednesday, 16 July 2008
Euromontana is looking for a volunteer through the EVS programme to start in 2009 (deadline for applications to the EVS programme: 1st of September). The person will work together with the Director in organising conferences and events, member contacts, communication(newsletters, websites etc.) and other tasks to be defined according to the profile of the applicant. Will include some travel.
for further details on the EVS programme. In general candidates have to be under 30 years of age and have a sending organisation in their own countries. See Euromontana’s project description 2008-EACEA-10 at http://ec.europa.eu/youth/evs/aod/hei_form_en.cfm?EID=70000140980
Tuesday, 15 July 2008
10/07/2008 - In response to the requests and suggestions of Member States and the European Parliament, the European Commission has adopted a new version of the EU School Milk Scheme with simple and clear implementation rules that provides a larger range of healthy dairy products to more children.
The European School Milk Scheme is intended to encourage consumption among children of healthy dairy products containing important vitamins and minerals. The scheme does not only have a nutritional character but also an educational character and contributes therefore greatly to the fight against obesity among children. The School Milk Scheme is there to provide quality products for children, to contribute to a healthy way of living and to nutritional education with a better knowledge on products.
The School Milk Scheme has recently been reviewed by the European Commission taking into account a number of requests and suggestions from the Member States, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union.
With the review of the scheme a number of new, innovative and more attractive products have become eligible for the EU-subsidy. Further to various types of drinking milk, in the future children will have the access, among others, to certain fermented milk products with fruit or fruit juice, plain fermented milk products, such as yoghurt, buttermilk, kephir etc., and a wide range of cheeses. The EU-subsidy, moreover, will be the same for full-fat, medium-fat or low-fat products. Member States will have the possibility to choose the products they wish to distribute from the list of eligible products and they will also have the possibility to apply stricter standards than those set out in the Community list.
With the new regulation, secondary schools will have the same access to the scheme as nursery schools, other pre-school establishments and primary schools. Secondary schools were in the past often not participating in the School Milk Scheme as it was not obligatory for the Member States to include them.
While the scheme contains a large degree of subsidiarity the Community implementing rules have been further clarified and simplified.
Last year the equivalence of 305 000 tonnes of milk was distributed in schools in 22 Member States with Community expenditures of more than 50 million euro. With the new and simpler rules of the scheme as well as the new and more attractive products available, it is expected that in the future even more schools will participate in the distribution of dairy products allowing and encouraging children to replace low-quality food and drinks with convenient, high-quality dairy products.
After yesterdays post on milk and madness, and being very aware of the excess of milk production in the EU, this seems to be nothing more than en elegant mechanism to get rid of milk overproduction. Poor children! There is already enough controversy on the benefits of milk consumption, not to encourage it so thoughtlessly! Milk creates an acid digesting environment, which substracts a lot of neurtalizing agents from your body, in such a way that, for example the famous Calcium input from milk can be completely neutralized and even shifted to the negative (i.e. Calcium loss). Why the hell should our taxes go to make mainly well-fed children have some more dairy?!
Monday, 14 July 2008
[See Michael Wildfeuer, "A Dairyman’s View of BST," The Threefold Review, Issue No. 3, Summer 1990.] "
If economic preoccupations and forces drive decisions on cultivating, environmental and social aspects are neglected.
Jaime Silva garantiu que o Governo já tem agendada a revisão da Lei do Arrendamento Rural, assim como a da Lei da Reserva Agrícola e anunciou a criação de "bancos de terras".
"As reformas do Ministério da Agricultura não acabam, porque não aceitamos que a média de idades dos agricultores seja de 55 anos", disse Jaime Silva, acrescentando que "é necessário encontrar terras para os jovens que querem investir na agricultura.
Segundo Jaime Silva, a propriedade privada vai ser salvaguardada com a nova lei do Arrendamento, mas o aluguer de terras será agilizado com as novas regras. O banco de terras será uma inicitiva a apresentar no início da próxima sessão legislativa, mas a revisão da Lei do arrendamento deverá ir a conselho de Ministros ainda este mês.
Aos jornalistas Jaime Silva explicou que a lei do arrendamento rural é muito antiga, que já não se adequa à realidade actual e referiu, a título de exemplo, que dá poder ao Ministério da Agricultura para definir os aumentos das rendas das terras. Com a actualização da lei, o Governo pretende, nomeadamente, dar a possibilidade ao dono e ao arrendatário de negociarem entre si o preço do aluguer e o tempo do contrato de arrendamento." A lei é muito rígida e está a servir de travão à existência de um bom mercado de arrendamento rural", disse.
Jaime Silva acredita que muitos donos e terras preferem tê-las ao abandono em vez de as arrendar porque consideram que o rendimento obtido não compensa o risco de as terras ficarem indefinidamente ocupadas.
"Esta é a primeira medida de combate ao abandono rural", afirmou. O banco de terras, a criar no âmbito da nova lei do arrendamento, será "um local" onde os proprietários disponibilizarão terras para arrendar e tanto podem ser sociedades privadas vocacionadas para o arrendamento como até o Ministério da Agricultura.
"Há muitos jovens agricultores que estão interessados em candidatar-se a determinados programas mas precisam de mais terras para desenvolver os seus projectos", salientou Jaime silva. O ministro considerou que, quando existir o banco de terras, o próprio Ministério poderá aconselhar o aluguer de determinadas terras aos jovens agricultores que se lhe dirigem com candidaturas para desenvolver determinados projectos. "É que precisamos de mais jovens agricultores", disse o ministro, acrescentando que não chega ter mais 2.000 jovens agricultores por cada quadro comunitário de apoio, de seis em seis anos.
Extracto de um comentário fervente: "Ver nos super mercados feijão verde de Marrocos é o exemplo da pouca vergonha onde chegou a nossa agricultura."
Friday, 11 July 2008
TV-B-Gone™ universal remote control turns off virtually any television! It's the ultimate jammer tool for reclaiming public space. It works at airports, bars, offices... any place that needs a break from the idiot box. Clarity of mind, one click at a time.
$30.00 CAD (Shipping Included).
On sale at: http://www.adbusters.org/cultureshop/activist_tools/tv-b-gone
Monday, 7 July 2008
Now it is important to consider what is the cause of poverty. The mainstream discourse considers "lack of monetary resources" as poverty, whereas the Wuppertal Institute believes poverty is caused by lack of power. The poor are those to whom the right of existence and access to the resources they need for survival are denied. This happens frequently through investment projects, where local populations are displaced or prevented from accessing local resources for their survival. Investment in development makes them poor in the first place.
It is essential that the development discourse is reassessed and the basic assumption "economic growth= poverty alleviation" is challenged. Santarius poposes the concept of "leapfrogging": developing countries should not make the mistakes of economic development through resource degradation, how the countries in the North and West have done it, but they should rather move on to a truly sustainable pattern of development, in which welfare is not associated to ever increasing resource use.
SANTARIUS, T. (2006) Kann es eine Fair Future durch Investment in Development geben? Zeitschrift fuer Sozialoekonomie, 150, 36-39.
Saturday, 5 July 2008
Monday, 30 June 2008
3 de Junho de 2008
Na sequência da entrada no espaço comunitário, incluindo Portugal, de óleo de girassol proveniente da Ucrânia, contaminado com óleo mineral, a Comissão europeia recomendou às autoridades dos Estados–membros, como medida de precaução, que o referido óleo, ou mistura deste com outros óleos, fosse objecto de recolha do mercado.
De acordo com a avaliação do risco realizada pela EFSA (autoridade europeia para a segurança alimentar), tendo por base os dados analíticos disponíveis até á data, tudo indica tratar-se de óleo mineral de alta viscosidade e consequentemente com baixo nível de toxicidade. Face ao exposto, a Comissão Europeia alterou os termos da recomendação, no sentido de permitir a colocação no mercado de géneros alimentícios que contenham ou tenham sido produzidos a partir do óleo contaminado, desde que cumpram determinados requisitos de forma a não acarretarem qualquer risco para a saúde humana, tendo em conta as considerações da EFSA para os riscos toxicológicos relacionados com a contaminação do óleo de girassol com óleo mineral.
Ecological Knowledge is Lost in Wealthier Communities and Countries
Sarah E. Pilgrim, Leanne C. Cullen, David J. Smith, and Jules Pretty*
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Essex, Colchester CO4 3SQ, UK
Accumulated knowledge about nature is an important part of people’s capacity to manage and conserve the environment. But this ecological knowledge is now being increasingly lost. There have been few cross-cultural and quantitative studies to describe the phenomenon of its loss. Here we show a strong inverse correlation between ecological knowledge and income levels in and among India, Indonesia, and the UK (n = 1095 interviews). Knowledge acquisition and subsequent saturation occurs at an early age in the most resource-dependent communities, but not in the UK, where knowledge levels are low and acquisition is slow. Knowledge variance within communities increases in association with ecological knowledge decline and a scale of progressive knowledge loss was revealed with the most rapid rates of loss in industrialized regions. Various studies have described the mutually exclusive relationship between economic growth and environmental conservation; however this is the first to consider the association between economic growth and social capacity to manage the environment. Understanding ecological knowledge loss is important to understanding the declining capacities of communities undergoing economic development to manage their natural resources and the future of ecosystem diversity in the light of current patterns of economic growth.
Download the full text: PDF HTML
I'm so proud of Sarah! :-)
Friday, 27 June 2008
wir sind ihm alle weit.
Aber wunderbar sind dir
die Hände benedeit.
So reifen sie bei keiner Frau,
so schimmernd aus dem Saum:
ich bin der Tag,
ich bin der Tau,
du aber bist der Baum.
Ich bin jetzt matt,
mein Weg war weit,
was Er, der groß in Goldgeschmeid
wie in der Sonne saß,
dir künden ließ, du Sinnende,
(verwirrt hat mich der Raum).
Sieh: ich bin das Beginnende,
du aber bist der Baum.
Ich spannte meine Schwingen aus
und wurde seltsam weit;
jetzt überfließt dein kleines Haus
von meinem großen Kleid.
Und dennoch bist du so allein
wie nie und schaust mich kaum;
das macht: ich bin ein Hauch im Hain,
du aber bist der Baum.
Die Engel alle bangen so,
lassen einander los:
noch nie war das Verlangen so,
so ungewiss und groß.
Vielleicht, dass Etwas bald geschieht,
das du im Traum begreifst.
Gegrüßt sei, meine Seele sieht:
du bist bereit und reifst.
Du bist ein großes, hohes Tor,
und aufgehn wirst du bald.
Du, meines Liedes liebstes Ohr,
jetzt fühle ich:
mein Wort verlor
sich in dir wie im Wald.
So kam ich und vollendete
dir tausendeinen Traum.
Gott sah mich an;
Du aber bist der Baum.
Rainer Maria Rilke, 21.7.1899, Berlin-Schmargendorf
Thursday, 26 June 2008
Wednesday, 25 June 2008
Quite bluntly: we (Portguese agro-food industry) unite to lobby for our economic interests. This is the first sentence on their home page: http://www.fipa.pt/ I like it when they are straight forward. :-)
"Most of what we spend on food—in fact, nearly all—goes to nonfarmers. This means that
while there’s plenty of cash moving through the global food system, the money available
for farmers keeps getting squeezed."
João Machado (presidente da CAP): "O que a CAP diz e tem defendido, e eu próprio, que sou administrador da Autoridade da Segurança Alimentar Europeia – a autoridade que diz se são perigosos ou não os OGM –, é o seguinte: os agricultores portugueses, e os europeus (porque isto são directivas comunitárias), não são cientistas. Não se têm que pronunciar sobre se é um perigo para a biodiversidade, para a saúde humana, para o que quer que seja. Para isso, existe uma Autoridade da Segurança Alimentar, que diz se é perigoso ou não."
Acho extremamente asquerosa esta maneira autoritária e pretenciosa de falar. Ele é que sabe e que diz, e ponto final. Ninguêm tem mais nada a dizer. Os valores e as preocupações dos outros não contam. Cala-te se não levas um pontapé debaixo da mesa. É esta maneira de forçar as suas próprias agendas sobre os outros que domina no meio político e autárquico português. Valores democráticos? Onde?
Sunday, 22 June 2008
Silvio Gesell's "The natural Economic order": http://www.ces.org.za/docs/Gesell/en/neo/index.htm
International Journal on Community Currency Research: http://www.uea.ac.uk/env/ijccr/index.html
The LETS design manual: http://www.gmlets.u-net.com/
German speaking: http://www.regiogeld.de/
Peter, would you please explain these guys?...
But then there's the quetsion: do you prefer a fanatic or a sponge like chamaleon? I'd rather marry a fanatic.
Gleicht dem Wasser:
Vom Himmel kommt es,
Zum Himmel steigt es,
Und wieder nieder
Zur Erde muß es.
Strömt von der hohen,
Der reine Strahl,
Dann stäubt er lieblich
Zum glatten Fels,
Und, leicht empfangen,
Wallt er verschleiernd,
Zur Tiefe nieder.
Dem Sturz entgegen,
Schäumt er unmutig
Im flachen Bette
Schleicht er das Wiesental hin,
Und in dem glatten See
Weiden ihr Antlitz
Wind ist der Welle
Wind rauscht von Grund aus
Seele des Menschen
Wie gleichst du dem Wasser!
Schicksal des Menschen,
Wie gleichst du dem Wind!
Song of the spirits over the waters
The soul of man
Is like the water:
It comes from heaven,
It returns to heaven,
And down again
To earth must go,
When from the high,
Sheer wall of rock
The pure stream gushes,
It sprays its lovely vapor
In billowing clouds
Towards the smooth rock,
And lightly received,
It goes enshrouded,
Down to the deep.
Opposing its fall.
Annoyed, it foams
Step by step
Into the abyss.
In a flat bed
It slinks down the grassy vale,
And in the waveless lake
All the stars
Feast on their likeness.
Wind is the wave's
Wind stirs up from the depths
Soul of man,
How like to the water!
Fate of man,
How like to the wind!
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Wenn ich jetzt ein Wirtschaftstextbuch in die Hand bekomme habe ich das gleiche Gefuehl: das Zeug hat einen Logischen Zusammenhang und ist darum Glaubwuerdig. Aber es hat mit der Realitaet nix zu tun.
Friday, 20 June 2008
positioned to play a key role in these countries and to make a
difference due to its adaptability character and by making quick
Portugal urges the international community to make a
renewed effort to achieve a successful closing of the Doha
Portugal believes that the private sector development plays a crucial
role in the fight against poverty."
(October 22, 2007 -- Statement by the Hon. Fernando Teixeira dos Santos, Governor of the World Bank Group for Portugal, at the Joint Annual Discussion.)
Portugal thinks, urges and believes.
Dear Fernando Teixeira dos Santos, do you really think you personify Portugal?! Aren't you a bit inflated?
As far as I can tell you are talking scrap anyways.
Told by a nordic Hans met a few years ago. I think he was talking about pig factory farms and how they were polluting the streams and the sea and the interest keeping the facts hidden. His hope was if he put the torch on the infractors they would have to stop their destructive activities. I wish to think it was like that. Some crime is discovered and you "just" have to bring it to light. But I'm afraid that's naive... So much crime and shame standing there in front of everyone's eyes. We shout and are convinced it will collapse by itself. And 50 years are over and it is still there.
"denn ueber allem herscht GEWALT!"/ for above everything rules violence (Carl Orff, Die Kluge)
Thursday, 19 June 2008
E cuja embalagem se pode comer tambem. Vem tudo mastigadinho, e so por goela abaixo, como os passaros.
Sempre pode ajudar esta rapaziada tao atarefadinha a poupar mais uns segundos na hora da refeicao."
Mensagem encontrada no Forum da Comunidade Portuguesa no Reino Unido: Tugas.co.uk
This guy argues that the English are developing ready chewed food to spare even more time.
(many things that happen in life would not be that way if humans were not such in-the-coach-standing-pushers)
R. Steiner, 1909
Tuesday, 17 June 2008
Monday, 16 June 2008
Lucifer is the working name for "Land use change interactions with fire in Mediterranean landscapes" and Erosfire is a study on the relation bewteen fire and soil erosion from the University of Aveiro...
Hm...how should I call my project?
Friday, 13 June 2008
Added products from Spain and Portugal also mean a further drain on the Community budget. Spain's excess of olive oil alone doubles the cost of supporting olive growers Spain and Portugal's addition to the existing wine, fruit, and vegetable surpluses (especially wine) means added storage and destruction costs as well as added price support and export subsidy costs."
Jensen, Christian Henri
Source:Brigham Young University Law Review; 1990, Issue 4
By George Monbiot. Published in the Guardian 10th June 2008
I suggest you sit down before you read this. Robert Mugabe is right. At last week’s global food summit he was the only leader to speak of “the importance … of land in agricultural production and food security”.(1) Countries should follow Zimbabwe’s lead, he said, in democratising ownership.
Of course the old bastard has done just the opposite. He has evicted his opponents and given land to his supporters. He has failed to support the new settlements with credit or expertise, with the result that farming in Zimbabwe has collapsed. The country was in desperate need of land reform when Mugabe became president. It remains in desperate need of land reform today.
But he is right in theory. Though the rich world’s governments won’t hear it, the issue of whether or not the world will be fed is partly a function of ownership. This reflects an unexpected discovery. It was first made in 1962 by the Nobel economist Amartya Sen(2), and has since been confirmed by dozens of further studies. There is an inverse relationship between the size of farms and the amount of crops they produce per hectare. The smaller they are, the greater the yield.
In some cases, the difference is enormous. A recent study of farming in Turkey, for example, found that farms of less than one hectare are twenty times as productive as farms of over ten hectares(3). Sen’s observation has been tested in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Malaysia, Thailand, Java, the Phillippines, Brazil, Colombia and Paraguay. It appears to hold almost everywhere.
The finding would be surprising in any industry, as we have come to associate efficiency with scale. In farming, it seems particularly odd, because small producers are less likely to own machinery, less likely to have capital or access to credit, and less likely to know about the latest techniques.
There’s a good deal of controversy about why this relationship exists. Some researchers argued that it was the result of a statistical artefact: fertile soils support higher populations than barren lands, so farm size could be a result of productivity, rather than the other way around. But further studies have shown that the inverse relationship holds across an area of fertile land. Moreover, it works even in countries like Brazil, where the biggest farmers have grabbed the best land(4).
The most plausible explanation is that small farmers use more labour per hectare than big farmers(5). Their workforce largely consists of members of their own families, which means that labour costs are lower than on large farms (they don’t have to spend money recruiting or supervising workers), while the quality of the work is higher. With more labour, farmers can cultivate their land more intensively: they spend more time terracing and building irrigation systems; they sow again immediately after the harvest; they might grow several different crops in the same field.
In the early days of the Green Revolution, this relationship seemed to go into reverse: the bigger farms, with access to credit, were able to invest in new varieties and boost their yields. But as the new varieties have spread to smaller farmers, the inverse relationship has reasserted itself(6). If governments are serious about feeding the world, they should be breaking up large landholdings, redistributing them to the poor and concentrating their research and their funding on supporting small farms.
There are plenty of other reasons for defending small farmers in poor countries. The economic miracles in South Korea, Taiwan and Japan arose from their land reform programmes. Peasant farmers used the cash they made to build small businesses. The same thing seems to have happened in China, though it was delayed for 40 years by collectivisation and the Great Leap Backwards: the economic benefits of the redistribution that began in 1949 were not felt until the early 80s(7). Growth based on small farms tends to be more equitable than growth built around capital-intensive industries(8). Though their land is used intensively, the total ecological impact of smallholdings is lower. When small farms are bought up by big ones, the displaced workers move into new land to try to scratch out a living. I once followed evicted peasants from the Brazilian state of Maranhao 2000 miles across the Amazon to the land of the Yanomami Indians, then watched them rip it apart.
But the prejudice against small farmers is unshakeable. It gives rise to the oddest insult in the English language: when you call someone a peasant, you are accusing them of being self-reliant and productive. Peasants are detested by capitalists and communists alike. Both have sought to seize their land, and have a powerful vested interest in demeaning and demonising them. In its profile of Turkey, the country whose small farmers are 20 times more productive than its large ones, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation states that, as a result of small landholdings, “farm output … remains low.”(9) The OECD states that “stopping land fragmentation” in Turkey “and consolidating the highly fragmented land is indispensable for raising agricultural productivity.”(10) Neither body provides any supporting evidence. A rootless, half-starved labouring class suits capital very well.
Like Mugabe, the donor countries and the big international bodies loudly demand that small farmers be supported, while quietly shafting them. Last week’s food summit agreed “to help farmers, particularly small-scale producers, increase production and integrate with local, regional, and international markets.”(11) But when, earlier this year, the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge proposed a means of doing just this, the US, Australia and Canada refused to endorse it as it offended big business(12), while the United Kingdom remains the only country that won’t reveal whether or not it supports the study(13).
Big business is killing small farming. By extending intellectual property rights over every aspect of production; by developing plants which either won’t breed true or which don’t reproduce at all(14), it ensures that only those with access to capital can cultivate. As it captures both the wholesale and retail markets, it seeks to reduce its transaction costs by engaging only with major sellers. If you think that supermarkets are giving farmers in the UK a hard time, you should see what they are doing to growers in the poor world. As developing countries sweep away street markets and hawkers’ stalls and replace them with superstores and glossy malls, the most productive farmers lose their customers and are forced to sell up. The rich nations support this process by demanding access for their companies. Their agricultural subsidies still help their own, large farmers to compete unfairly with the small producers of the poor world.
This leads to an interesting conclusion. For many years, well-meaning liberals have supported the fair trade movement because of the benefits it delivers directly to the people it buys from. But the structure of the global food market is changing so rapidly that fair trade is now becoming one of the few means by which small farmers in poor nations might survive. A shift from small to large farms will cause a major decline in global production, just as food supplies become tight. Fair trade might now be necessary not only as a means of redistributing income, but also to feed the world.
2. Amartya Sen, 1962. An Aspect of Indian Agriculture. Economic Weekly, Vol. 14.
3. Fatma Gül Ünal, October 2006. Small Is Beautiful: Evidence Of Inverse Size YieldRelationship In Rural Turkey. Policy Innovations. http://www.policyinnovations.org/ideas/policy_library/data/01382
4. Giovanni Cornia, 1985. Farm Size, Land Yields and the Agricultural Production function: ananalysis for fifteen Developing Countries. World Development. Vol. 13, pp. 513-34.
5. Eg Peter Hazell, January 2005. Is there a future for small farms? Agricultural Economics, Vol. 32, pp93-101. doi:10.1111/j.0169-5150.2004.00016.x
6. Rasmus Heltberg, October 1998. Rural market imperfections and the farm size— productivity relationship: Evidence from Pakistan. World Development. Vol 26, pp 1807-1826. doi:10.1016/S0305-750X(98)00084-9
7. See Shenggen Fan and Connie Chan-Kang , 2005. Is Small Beautiful?: Farm Size, Productivity and Poverty in Asian Agriculture. Agricultural Economics, Vol. 32, pp135-146.
8. Peter Hazell, ibid.
10. OECD Economic Surveys: Turkey - Volume 2006 Issue 15, p186.This is available online as a Google book.
I was led to refs 9 and 10 via Fatma Gül Ünal, ibid.
12. International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), 2008. Global Summary for Decision Makers. www.agassessment.org
13. IAASTD, viewed 9th June 2008. Frequently Asked Questions. www.agassessment.org
14. Eg Terminator seeds.