10 dec Agri Culture: don’t underestimate the power of villages
While cities all over the world are growing in a tremendous speed, leaving the countryside emptier than ever before in history, we cannot afford to forget the villages. Some say that only mega cities will survive in the future because medium sized cities like Amsterdam and Stockholm are too expensive to run. It is either huge or nothing. Let the urbanists focus on this problem. I suggest that the rest of us worry about a simple yet fundamental question: how will we, urban dwellers, be fed if the farms close down? How can farmers survive in villages where schools and shops close due to the trek into the cities, where libraries and cinemas stop existing and young people refuse to live and work. The average age of the American farmer is 65; the average age of the Dutch farmer is 55, and this is the case in one of the countries where agriculture is still seen as an honorable world to be part of. Or has this changed recently? As a Dutchman I wonder why The Netherlands are so famous as agri-consultants all over the world, but don’t seem to have plans for the rejuvenation of its own farmers. Not enough tomatoes will grow on the roofs of mega flats to satisfy our needs. How can the university of Wageningen, world famous for its genetic manipulation programs and other brilliant inventions in agricultural efficiency not be part of a national plan to save our villages and therewith our farmers and our daily bread? MAO was partly right when he sent intellectuals to the farms in order for them to understand their importance for society as a whole. Creating mega cities and letting farmers down by eliminating their social structures in the village is killing our future. Most of us refuse to live on chemical food, pills and surrogates, but what if wheat and other cereals will stop reaching the urban crowds? And the tragic thing about these developments is that life in the city turns out to be much more difficult than in the village. Ask Africans in Lagos, Indians in Mumbai or Thai in Bangkok and they will tell you how they miss their real home. Let’s start taking villages seriously and restore their culture instead of breaking things down. How can we make farming sexy enough to drastically lower the average age of the farmer?