Farmers’ Markets in Beijing – an impression by prof. Jan Douwe van der Ploeg

By prof. dr ir Jan Douwe van der Ploeg

Poster lecture by prof. Van der PloegAt the end of October I had the opportunity to meet a large group of social activists involved in the development of Farmers’ Markets in Beijing. I gave a short presentation in a meeting with some 150 people (see the announcement). It took place in a cinema with my Power Point Presentation projected on the screen normally used for films. The good thing was that the projected images were now up to 5 times larger than me myself. I felt reduced to the right proportions. Afterwards we had a lengthy conversation on the construction of new markets, peasant agriculture and new peasants. The nearby Farmers’ Market (that frequently changes location: it travels through Beijing) impressed me very much: it was, as it were, a perfect illustration of the discussion we had inside the cinema. Many peasants, many new peasants as well. Continue reading

Request for a MSc student on leadership of place

Picture leadershipThe Rural Sociology Group is looking for a MSc student who is willing to do his/her master thesis research on leadership in 2 Dutch regions in the context of an international comparative research in the spring of 2016.
The central question is how leadership plays a role in rural and metropolitan regional development. Continue reading

New MSc thesis opportunities with the Rural Sociology Group

Are you a student of International Development studies, Organic Agriculture, Food Technology, or Development and Rural Innovation and are you interested in topics varying from food provisioning, urban-rural linkages to sustainable place-shaping? Then the Rural Sociology Group is the perfect place to look for thesis supervision!

RSO Domains Continue reading

Better ways to cook up food policy

Recently the article on FoodLinks that you can read below was published on the EU websites Horizon2020 and Research & Innovation. FoodLinks is one of the EU-projects the Rural Sociology Group worked on between 2011 and 2013. If you want to know more about the initial project read here.

Foodlinks_Logo_200pixCan too many cooks spoil the broth? Not if they find the right way to work together. An EU-funded project explored new methods for researchers, policy-makers and civil society groups to collaborate to make food sustainable – for both people and the planet.’  Continue reading

The Teacher of the Year Elections 2016 start today!


From Monday October 26th till Friday November 6th, you are able to vote for your favourite Wageningen University teachers, thereby deciding who will become the nominees for the Teacher of the Year 2016.

The Teacher of the Year Award is an expression of recognition of the teacher’s efforts. It acts as a source of inspiration and underlines the importance of good education.

Are you a 2nd-year student or up, then vote for your three favourite teachers by logging in with SSC via this link. By voting you have a chance of winning one of the Wageningen University sweaters!
The Teacher of the Year Award is initiated by the University Fund Wageningen.

The UN’s most inclusive body at a crossroads

Originally posted on Food Governance:

By Matheus Alves Zanella and Jessica Duncan

The world food price crisis of 2007/08 shook global food governance. Pressured to find solutions for unexpected prices increase of several food products, many initiatives were launched at the global level.  One of those was the reform of the United Nation’s Committee on World Food Security (CFS), who transformed itself from “the most boring UN body of all” – in the words of an experienced diplomat based in Rome – to the foremost inclusive international and intergovernmental platform for food security, with substantive participation of different actors including member states, civil society and private sector.

That was 2009 and there was a general sense of urgency in addressing claims that over 1 billion people were going hungry worldwide. The reformed CFS was well positioned in this debate, by giving voice to all actors, notably those most affected by food insecurity, and transitioning from…

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Emmelien Venselaar reflects on attending the Committee on World Food Security

As part of a voluntary course offered by Rural Sociology, 16 students visited Italy to look at two different examples of global food security in action. Emmelien Venselaar, who studies International Development, has written a short blog wherein she reflects on her experiences. Happy reading.

Students get ready to observe politics in action at the UN's Committee on World Food Security (photo by X. Jiang)

Students get ready to observe politics in action at the UN’s Committee on World Food Security (photo by X. Jiang)

As part of the Capita Selecta “Global Food Security Governance” from chair group RSO, 16 students got the chance to visit the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) in Rome. This Committee is an intergovernmental body addressing global food security governance. It aims to be inclusive and thus takes the interests of states, civil society, NGO’s and the private sector into account. In practice this means that a discussion can be conducted by Coca Cola, Finland, peasants and a representative of the FAO. This conference is an annual event hosted by the Food and Agricultural Organization, a UN agency, in Rome. During three days we experienced what is it like to formulate international guidelines at nighttime, watch African students pitch their business ideas, discuss matters over lunch on the roof terrace of the FAO office, take one minute espresso breaks to get us through the day and network our way through the side events. As students, we are quite used to short nights, networking events and important discussions. Only this time it was much more official than at our student associations or student board events back in Wageningen. This time we were talking politics.

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Visiting scholar Claire Baker – how global transformations affected a small rural community in Australia

Claire Paradise 2

Claire Baker visiting the social care farm ‘t Paradijs:

By Claire Baker, PhD-student from the University of New England in Australia.

Working title of my PhD-project: ‘Experiencing change in a globalising agricultural economy: An Australian ethnographic case study 1945-2015′.

I have been very fortunate to have spent some time with the dynamic Rural Sociology Group at Wageningen University as a Visiting Scholar over the last couple of weeks. This has been an intensive period of discussion and reading during which I have further refined the theoretical and methodological framework for my research project. Continue reading

Building a Common Food and Nutrition Policy: asking the new structures question

Originally posted on TRANSMANGO:

Terry Marsden revisits the opinion paper he wrote earlier this month on a common food policy and reflects on the ‘new structures question’. If you would like to comment on this please join us in our discussion on #commonfoodpolicy on Twitter or Facebook.

Since my first intervention calling for a radical reorganisation of the CAP, both in terms of individual responses and further reading, I am increasingly struck by the significant weight of evidence calling for more policy integration around food. This includes various EU Foresight reports. In debating these proposed changes and policy needs it is perhaps important not to rush into concerns about changes in actual policy instruments and structures, but first to more fundamentally consider and debate some of the principles which lie behind a ‘new deal for food’ in Europe. One key area is to re-position rural development concerns right at the heart of the debate…

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Landbouw als oplossing voor illegale stroperij? Naïef en tegenstrijdig


Vandaag verscheen er een opiniestuk in de Trouw, geschreven door Paul Hebinck en Bram Büscher, collega’s van de Sociology of Development and Change Group, over de jacht op illegale stroperij:

16 oktober 2015 | door: Paul Hebinck en Bram Büscher, wetenschappelijk medewerkers Wageningen Universiteit

Internationale jacht op stropers vanuit Den Haag naïef en tegenstrijdig

Staatssecretaris Dijksma van EZ heeft financiële steun toegezegd aan de door WNF opgezette Wildlife Justice Commission om stroperij in Afrika en Azië te helpen bestrijden. De plannen zijn echter onrealistisch en naïef.

Ten eerste is het idee dat landbouw de ruggengraat is van de (rurale) economie en zodoende op korte termijn een (legale) alternatief inkomstenbron kan vormen onrealistisch. Boeren keren zich al decennia in toenemende mate van de landbouw af omdat  inkomsten uit landbouw al jaren weinig soelaas biedt voor kleine boerenfamilies om een redelijk bestaan op te bouwen. Migratie naar de stad, maar ook illegale handel in houtskool, drank en wild zijn welkome aanvullingen op een vaak mager bestaan. De staatssecretaris doet er goed aan om samen met collega Ploumen initiatieven te ontwikkelen om van landbouw een aantrekkelijke(re) bron van bestaan te maken. Onderhandelingen over een zgn. vrije wereldmarkt en de exponentiële landroof voor de productie van gewassen voor de wereldmarkt of de productie van hop voor Heineken waar premier Rutte over repte in de recente algemene vergadering van de VN werken dit echter al jaren tegen. Laat de staatssecretaris zich daar maar druk over maken en collega Ploumen overtuigen boeren te ondersteunen in hun strijd om land en redelijke prijzen voor hun waar. Zolang Ploumen echter vrijhandel belangrijker blijft vinden dan lokale boerenrealiteiten in Afrika zal agrarische ontwikkeling niet echt een alternatief bieden voor stroperij.  Continue reading