During the recent flooding of the rivers Maas and Rhine and the evacuation of hundred of thousands of people from the area between the rivers, the district water boards and politicians called for immediate work to be carried out on the Dutch river dykes. The dyke between Wageningen and Rhenen was not in danger of breaking, but to rule out uncertainty it should be strengthened, experts had already stated long ago.
After eighteen years of delays and changing policies, the water board presented a discussion paper last week, to which the water boards, several environmental organisations and local authorities had contributed. The dyke does not need raising, but should be widened in several places, in order to prevent water weakening the underside of the dyke. If the procedure continues without hitch, the dyke is due to be improved in 1996.
D. Zwart, Professor of Tropical Husbandry at WAU since 1986, has recently retired. He is enthusiastic about his successor's field of science, the system analysis of dairy production. He believes that an integrated approach leads scientists to a better assessment of the main practical problems in the production process. This approach is quite similar to research he conducted in his early days during the colonial period in New Guinea. Increasingly however, scientists were force to specialise and researchers were judged on the number of publications they managed to produce. Multidisciplinary or animated research items abroad were hard to combine with the publish or perish policy of the university. Results only come after ten years", says Zwart, I'm harvesting now what my predecessors have sowed."
The Dutch India Working Group is looking for WAU students to conduct research on the environmental conditions under which cotton cultivation takes place. The situation in India is miserable, as Marianne Heselmans found out recently in the area around Hyderabad: girls between six and fifteen years old work in the cotton fields day in, day out collecting cotton seeds; they are sometimes subjected to beatings, and often smothered by illegal pesticides. Not that they care; according to the children: The quality of the Indian pesticides is so poor, that even the insects don't die, never mind the children." The introduction of quality labelling in cotton clothes may pressurize the Indian government and cotton producers into changing this mode of production.