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close this bookAmaranth to Zai Holes, Ideas for Growing Food under Difficult Conditions (ECHO, 1996, 397 p.)
close this folder5: Farming systems and gardening techniques
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View the documentDryland techniques and mulches
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View the documentIntercropping
View the documentSustainable systems: resources and training opportunities
View the documentPoem by Larry Fisher

Poem by Larry Fisher

After 15 years of EDN, I guess it is not too much to include a bit of levity.

Economists, agronomists and planners of late Have discovered a new way to pontificate. Beyond mere jargon, like "Success Enhancement," "Integrated Development," and "Rural Advancement." Working in all their infinite wisdom They're trying to define a "Farming System." To answer the question for all of you "Why do farmers do what they do?"

At universities and experiment stations 'round the globe, In offices, labs and on farms they probe; Through consultancy surveys in developing nations, Upstream and downstream experimentations, With yield rates, inputs and multiple regressions, Attempting to explain that profoundest of questions With the diverse hypotheses that each eschew On why farmers do what they do.

Variability and generalization, Indigenous knowledge and maximization, The issues discussed, the factors controlled, Computers click, theories unfold. Papers get published, conferences convened, Projects are funded; it becomes obscene When predictably they conclude in the Final Review That a more generous grant might give them a clue As to why farmers do what they do.

Somewhere farmers plow and plant, Milk their cows, work and chant. After the interviews, trials and calculations The experts retire to their research stations. And the farmers continue to grow their corn While old women die and children are born. The men swap stories and drink their brew, And they scratch their heads and wonder anew, "Why do scientists do what they do?"