Why do we need farmers anyway?
In the battle against hunger we need to improve food production in order to get enough for 8 billion people in 2050. But who has to produce our food? People all over the world move from the countryside to cities. They don’t see a future as a farmer and don’t like their sons and daughters to become one; and therefore high technology takes over the role of farmers, whose specific skills and knowledge seem less and less important. Moreover we are looking for alternatives like insects or algae producing components, which we put into instant nerd food, like Soylent. Are we acknowledging the end of the farmer as we know him/her?
It is hard and dirty work. And in most parts of the world it doesn’t have a high esteem. But don’t we need them farmers for their special connection with nature and their unique skills and local knowledge? Their knowledge of the local circumstances and the local variability seems of priceless value to get the most out of every inch. How come then this low esteem? Or is traditional agriculture actually just a very inefficient way of using solar energy and are the many city dwellers too romantic about farm life? Lizzy van Leeuwen and Paul Hebinck will focus on the cultural dimension of the development of the agrarian class.