Organisation - May 15, 2014


Last week two men came to Wageningen who have both at some point been declared the most innovative people of the year by Times Magazine.

The first was Monkombu Swaminathan (88), the father of the Green Revolution in India. He presented his research of the past 65 years to an audience of 200. ‘The Green revolution has been turned into the Evergreen Revolution,’ he said. I am afraid I saw little difference. After his presentation I asked him: ‘Is Vandana Shiva’s story true, that hundreds of thousands of farmers have committed suicide because they cannot escape the vicious circle of disappointing harvests and rising debts, precisely in those Evergreen Revolution regions?’ He said, ‘Yes, it’s true. That is why my wife has started a campaign to support the widows.’ I don’t see anything ‘evergreen’ about that.
The other Time Magazine man was farmer Joël Salatin from the US. To an audience of 500 people in Orion, he told a story about pasturing chickens after cows, about pasture-based livestock farming based on synergy, the way it often works naturally in the wild. The farmers’ group asked: ‘What should we do as students?’ Joël’s answer was: ‘Start a revolution, because the scientists of today are not helping to take sustainability forward.’
The overlap in the audience at the two lectures consisted of 20 people at the most. A real pity, if you ask me. For real sustainability we need more overlap.
More meetings of minds. Farmer Jan Huijgen of the Eemlandhoeve farm has a good plan for that: ‘Besides creating mental and moral and space, we need to create ‘liturgical’ space. Silence, listening, openness towards each other. A space in which to find together a new ethics for science with new norms and new kinds of farming.’

The new ethics is already there for other parts of society, but agricultural science is lagging behind. Who will invite Farmer Jan for a liturgical session?