Wetenschap - 1 januari 1970

Eredoctoraat voor econoom Heijman

Eredoctoraat voor econoom Heijman

Eredoctoraat voor econoom Heijman

Dr. Wim Heijman heeft een eredoctoraat ontvangen van de Universiteit van Debrecen, als erkenning van zijn verdiensten voor het economische onderzoek en onderwijs aan de Hongaarse landbouwuniversiteit. Heijman doceert sinds 1990 in Debrecen en heeft zich daarnaast ingezet voor de organisatie van de universiteit. Heijman: In 1990 stond het economieonderwijs in Debrecen nog in de kinderschoenen. Economie stond er gelijk aan de politieke economie van Marx, een weinig vruchtbare benadering van de huidige economische verhoudingen. Vanuit de Europese Unie kwamen fondsen beschikbaar voor onderwijsvernieuwing in Oost-Europa. Inmiddels hebben we in Debrecen de faculteit gereorganiseerd en een nieuw curriculum ontwikkeld. Heijman was al aangesteld als visiting professor in Debrecen, waar hij promovendi begeleidt en het bestuur adviseert over de transformatie van de universiteit tot een marktgerichte kennisinstelling. De economische ontwikkeling van Oost-Hongarije blijft sterk achter bij de rest van het land. Veel structuurfondsen in het kader van de toekomstige aansluiting bij de Europese Unie zullen daarom ten goede komen aan Oost-Hongarije. Debrecen speelt daarin een belangrijke rol. Er is vooral meer onderzoek nodig naar plattelandsontwikkeling. J.T

Garlic and cinnamon for pigs: at the moment anything goes. The search is on for substitutes for Antimicrobial Growth Promoters, commonly referred to as antibiotics, as a ban on some of these will be introduced in July. Garlic is well known for its beneficial effects, which include reducing blood pressure. It contains a substance called allicin which recognises and kills harmful bacteria, while ignoring beneficial ones. Cinnamon contains beneficial cinnemaldehydes. British company Cultech has developed a product called Enteroguard which contains both garlic and cinnamon. The Research Institute for Pig Husbandry in Rosmalen is testing the effects on piglets

Multi-functional land use as an antidote to urban development of the big cities: one of the themes at the symposium on Multiple and Sustainable Land Uses held last Friday. Agriculture which simply delivers products is a thing of the past. The research institutes of the Ministry of Agriculture (DLO) now devote a large amount of their resources towards options for multi-functional agriculture. Farmers already do it themselves: a field set aside for camping, a windmill on their land, an area for nature conservation. At a larger scale it's a question of combining production, employment and income with health, welfare, landscape and environment. The economics still need to be worked out. Professor Johan Bouma of the Department of Environmental Sciences warned against too much nostalgia: It's not a question of recreating the past. We need to improve our specific problem solving abilities.

Parking space is a problem in greenhouses; not so much for potted plants themselves, but the trolleys used to transport them. Bert Annevelink made an operational analysis of the internal transport movements of potted plant businesses for his PhD, which he received last Monday. Good planning is above all of the essence to reduce the amount of manoeuvring in a greenhouse. Annevelink developed a model which indicates that operational planning can be of assistance, not so much in terms of money saving, but in the form of time saving

The C.T. de Wit Graduate Research School of Production Ecology can give itself a pat on the back. A review panel of five internationally recognised scientists inspected the Research School last week and gave praise all round. Scientific content is high, the establishment compares favourably with similar ones in other countries, the education and research training offered is excellent. The only aspect where there is room for improvement is in the publishing record: quantity is fine, but quality needs work. Given the high level of research, the results could be published in more prestigious journals, according to the panel. The School also got the go-ahead to change its name to Production Ecology and Resource Conservation

This week's translation is of an interview with development economist Professor Kuijvenhoven about the next round of World Trade Organisation negotiations


:Development aid only for well governed countries

The Dutch government is currently debating how to reduce the number of countries that receive development aid. As it now stands, only 19 instead of 78 countries will be eligible for aid. One of the new criteria that countries would have to meet is good governance, in other words a government should be non-corrupt and democratic

On Wednesday 23 June, international students met in Hotel De Wereld, to discuss the proposed policy. Guest speaker Tony Kofi, former minister in Ghana, called the policy a new form of colonialism. In February, the Minister for Development Cooperation Eveline Herfkens presented a list of countries that she believes should receive Dutch aid. The lucky ones are Bangladesh, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Yemen, Macedonia, Mali, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Uganda, Vietnam, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is uncertain though whether the Dutch House of Parliament will approve Herfkens' selection. She has been criticised for the lack of a solid basis for her selection. The development-aid organisation Novib questions whether a country like Macedonia is poor enough to be on the list. There is also criticism for selecting Pakistan, a country that is governed by the military and a small group of feudal landlords, and where corruption is widespread. Most of the selected countries score high on the corruption list that is made every year by Transparency International in Berlin

In addition to the issue of whether the selected countries actually come up to the criteria of good governance, Tony Kofi argued at the meeting last week that putting conditions on countries with regard to development aid is in itself a preposterous idea. Western countries are draining third world countries through unequal trade relations. Only a tiny fraction of the wealth that is created at the expense of third world countries actually comes back through development aid. Imposing conditions on these countries is like letting somebody work for you for peanuts and then demanding that he swim in a canal or climb a tree before paying him a pittance. Can we call this moral?

According to Kofi, there is a long history of imposing conditions on countries receiving development aid. In the seventies Western countries only gave aid to countries which had similar ideologies. Later, countries had to meet the criteria of sustainability. And now Westerners decide whether third-world governments are good. This is the new colonialism, Kofi argued

The international students, most of them from Africa and South-America, agreed with Kofi. They recommended that, instead of crossing countries with bad governance off the list, it would be better to help these countries change towards a more democratic society. For example by giving financial support to organisations working towards a more open press. Giving aid only to countries with good governance may mean that those people who need help most are ignored. The poorest and most oppressed people are often found in countries with bad governance, where the government oppresses people and only a small elite group benefits, the students argued

But there are also convincing arguments in favour of the proposed policy changes. It is a fact that most of the money sent to undemocratic countries rarely reaches the poor. It is also generally recognized that limiting the number of target countries can improve the effectiveness of development aid. The international students were not able to undermine these arguments, but noted that the Dutch government should give the full reasoning behind its proposed policy changes. Maybe countries are selected because development relations with these countries can be beneficial for the Netherlands. Saying that aid depends on good governance may only be a facade, the students argue. Even the US government seems to be more honest, stating that development aid is given only to those countries that may be beneficial to the US

Mr Paul Le Coufre, information officer from the Dutch Ministry of Development Cooperation, who attended the meeting in Hotel De Wereld, said he will report the students' recommendations to Minister Herfkens

:Creating a catchment identity for river management

For sustainable ecological management of river catchments in South Africa, technically sound design is not enough. A participative approach involving all stakeholders is needed

In the field of management of natural resources this is nothing new. But this combination still doesn't guarantee sound management, argues Raymond Auerbach. A third factor is essential: responsible local leadership based on a shared sense of spirituality and common ethical values

Auerbach, who defended his PhD thesis this week, speaks about farming from his own experience. He has been running a small ecological farm since 1991 in the rolling hills of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. One of the main limitations of agriculture in South Africa is the availability of water. On his farm, Auerbach developed a water harvesting system that makes use of the run-off from the mountain and the highway to Durban that runs just above his farm. The run-off is slowed down by swales (small depressions) and filtered by wetlands, increasing infiltration. In this way, not only more irrigation is possible, but groundwater levels actually rise instead of sinking. Auerbach: In South Africa, a lot of soil erosion problems are caused by road constructors. Run-off from roads may wash away fertile soils. We managed to turn that hazard into a gold mine.

Four years later these ecological insights and techniques turned out to be useful. By then Auerbach was working with the Farmer Support Group of the University of Natal. A programme was set up, the Ntshongweni Catchment Management Programme, to investigate the feasibility of integrated catchment management for the area. Using participatory action research methods, the research group was able to set up gardens and craftswork groups that increased farmer incomes while also supporting ecological management. Using the same participatory method, environmental education was set up in the form of School Environmental Action Clubs

However, Auerbach found that participatory methods and technical assistance were not enough, at least in the South African context. Auerbach: There is a new orthodoxy, saying that everybody should participate in whatever process is under way. But the key to sustainable management of natural resources is to enable informed decision-making to take place. In South Africa there is a tradition of authoritarian leadership due to Apartheid. Everybody knows about white fascism, but there has been black fascism as well. Such authoritarian leadership has broken down a common sense of vision that kept people together. People must realise that there is to some degree unity behind the diversity of life, and that forms the basis of responsible local leadership. If there is no shared vision in the community, leaders tend to place their own prestige above the common good. Building a common vision in the community is essential.

Where social scientists would look for such vision building at village or community level, Auerbach tried to find it at catchment level. Auerbach: In the upper sub-catchment of the river there was a conflict over the use of trees between commercial white foresters and local black farmers. Obviously the former Apartheid system played a role in the conflict as well. They came together in a sub-catchment committee and managed to find a common goal: sustainable management of the trees. The sub-catchment committee gave both groups a new sense of identity, that of belonging to the same catchment. According to Auerbach, such catchment identity should be created to form the basis of a common vision of stakeholders in natural resource management. J.T., photo G.A