Wageningen has to come out of its shell and become the knowledge centre for rural areas, says director Andre van der Zande of the DLO Staring Centre. Agriculture is no longer the key factor in the rural areas: transport and logistics will increasingly affect the design of the landscape. Wageningen should start an integrated discussion on this theme, but at the moment the professors are only reacting to the plans of others, states Van der Zande. By integrating knowledge available on ecology, environment, rural planning and rural economy at both WAU and DLO, Wageningen can become the key actor in this field in future
WAU student Eric Richters didn't write his thesis, instead he made a video about the transfer of an irrigation scheme to farmers in Zimbabwe. The movie Turn it over shows the rise and fall of an irrigation scheme near the Nyanyadzi river that was built by an American missionary in 1937. The scheme broke down after 1980, when poor farmers settled near the main channel, removed the vegetation and unintentionally caused erosion and silting up of the channel. Handing over the irrigation scheme to the farmers is difficult, because the government is investing money in it right now and the farmers are afraid they will have to pay the costs in the future. Richters invested fifteen thousand guilders in the video and now wants to sell it to the Department of Irrigation of the University
The DLO institute for agrotechnological research has developed a new form of packing with a modified atmosphere for the transportation of sweet peppers. The main feature is that the oxygen concentration in the packing remains at a constant level, because a special coating allows as much oxygen through as the peppers require. As a result the peppers age at a much slower rate and they don't rot. With this new packing we can ship peppers to the United States, instead of flying them. This means lower transport costs, says researcher Arco Berkenbosch
Joost Meulenbroek is organiser of the main congresses and seminars at the University. A large congress takes about two years of preparation. The participants are selected by a committee of experts, who judge the papers of the scientists who wish to take part in the conference. Some use crafty methods to enter a congress. I once received an enrolment form from six people in the Ukraine, with strange names like Charity and Sunday. They requested a visa from the Dutch Embassy. It turned out to be a group of Ghanaians who were trying to enter the country through the congress.