Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Alegadas "Causas do abandono agrícola"

"O abandono da actividade agrícola resulta, entre outras causas, da baixa produtividade do trabalho, a qual ocorre fundamentalmente nas explorações de pequena dimensão, localizadas em regiões frágeis, onde as alterações estruturais e tecnológicas verificadas no passado recente tiveram uma pequena ou nula expressão.

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."

Alves, 2003

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

Virtual dialogue

Me: "This research is driving me mad."
She: "But you have been mad before, haven't you?"
Me: "True."

Monday, 28 July 2008

Lavandula stoechas

Economic growth in Portugal

"In 2006, the Economy has grown at different rates in the Portuguese regions

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)

Framer suicide in India

"The direct linking of the Indian and international markets has worsened the agricultural crisis, so every time the price rises (or crashes) in the international market, the Indian farmer bears the burden. We have two kinds of small and marginal farmers in India today - those who have committed suicide and those who are about to."

'Gaping at Famine', Tehelka, Sunday 19 July 2008, Vol. 5(8).

Info from Zareen.

Sunday, 27 July 2008


Meanwhile I rembered that Valerian is used in Biodynamic farming: there is really something special about the plant... It is said that it has a warmth quality, which would "explain" why dilluted Valerian tea can prevent frost damage of plants, a few degrees under 0ºC. This warmth quality is further said to foster soil life and that is a reason why Valerian juice is used for the compost preparation, in such way it helps Phosphorous uptake.

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

Who says we need synthetic pesticides?
Ah, yes, remember now: Monsanto says that.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Jeder ist ein Ehrenmann

"Jeder ist ein Ehrenmann,
wenn er nicht gerad' bescheissen kann."

i.e.: everyone is a gentleman, in the moments when he cannot cheat.

in "Der Mond" by Carl Orff

Friday, 25 July 2008

It's getting exciting

I'm juggling around with some data I collected during fieldwork and trying to write a piece about my results. Of course there are a lot of little problems with the data and I have to make narrower and more humble conclusions than I would like to, but still: it's looking interesting and I know now what other data I need to collect to test a couple of emerging hypotheses.

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

Detective ecológico

Ontém conhei um gato, gato mesmo, que tinha uma alergia e está a tomar esteroides (coitadito vai ficar gordo que nem uma besta). Quando a dona me mostrou a sua horta, lá estava o gato de novo, agora enrolado debaixo de umas plantas, como se tivesse aí um ninho. Que planta era essa? Centranthus ruber. Olho para o gato alérgico e para o Centranthus e logo me diz a intuição: O Centranthus é uma Valerianacea.
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

Using the food crisis to further the food cirsis

La Via Campesina Press Release

"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

World Bank Report 2008: Agriculture for development,,contentMDK:21410054~menuPK:3149676~pagePK:64167689~piPK:64167673~theSitePK:2795143,00.html

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

BayWa Lied

God, we don't need you - stay in heaven! - we have NPK fertilizer.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Ignorância Socrática

Ignorância Socrática é aparentemente o nome técnico que se dá a este estado que parece ser de uma decadência significativa: saber se que não se sabe nada. Diz-se que é bom sinal. Ao contrário do que se espera, o doutoramento frequentemente, quando levado a sério, leva a isso mesmo: saber se cada vez com mais certeza que não se sabe nada. E é de uma ironia total uma pessoa ser levada a apreciar o seu estado de total ignorância e então ter que escrever um tratado sobre a matéria de que menos percebe. É de uma crueldade infinita...

Sócrates (o do antigamente): "Só sei que nada sei".

Isto leva, no mínimo, a uma crise epistemológica.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Neptuno só nos lincha.

Volunteering opportunity

Euromontana is looking for a volunteer for 2009
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

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Frightening milk madness

European School Milk Scheme
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

Milk & Madness

"Our existing economy is production-driven—that is, the focus is on keeping businesses alive and profitable for as long as possible even if a product is not really needed. A recent example of a new product that meets no real need and is created purely to expand production and to generate profits is Bovine Somatotropine (BST), a hormone that is injected into lactating cows to increase milk production. There is presently an overproduction of milk in this country with many dairy farms going out of business. The federal government initiated a dairy herd buy-out program several years ago to encourage farmers to stop farming. What could be the reason for producing a product no one asked for and for which there is no real need? The chemical industry stands to make hundreds of millions of dollars each year, as farmers will be enticed to buy and use such a product because of the possibility of increased production and a stronger competitive position in the market.
[See Michael Wildfeuer, "A Dairyman’s View of BST," The Threefold Review, Issue No. 3, Summer 1990.] "

(Lamb, 1994)

Divided role of agriculture

"Part of agriculture is in the economy and part of it is not. Adherents of this perspective usually cite the activity of harvest as the dividing line. Cultivation, planting and growing up to the point of harvest is seen as a cultural, tending activity. Once harvesting has taken place, the food takes on a commodity character and enters the economic process."
(Lamb, 1994)

If economic preoccupations and forces drive decisions on cultivating, environmental and social aspects are neglected.

Notícia: revisão da Lei de arrendamento

O ministro da Agricultura e Pescas anunciou hoje na Assembleia da República a revisão da Lei do Arrendamento Rural e a criação de bancos de terras como forma de combater o abandono das terras e rejuvenescer o sector agrícola.
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

Activist tool

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:

Monday, 7 July 2008

Can there be a FairFuture through Investment in Development?

No, says Tilman Santarius from the Wuppertal Institute. The mainstream discourse, such as the discourse used in the Millenium Development Project, associates poverty reduction and incresed social justice with economic growth, just how it has been done since the second World War. However, it cannot be assumed anymore that economic growth is not a "zero sum game", i.e. that increases in some areas lead necessarily to decreases in other areas. Also, economic growth has always been connected to increased resource use and degradation. Although decoupling of growth from resoruce use is taking place in some developed countries, the level of possible decoupling seems to be limited. Therefore it is important to rethink the discourse of catching up development as it is incompatible with sustainable development. The catching up development generally is thought of as based on investment in development. Initial investments are made and they will pay off in terms of economic growth.
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.