Grassroots Science: Do the NL have an agro-ecology movement?

Stichting Otherwise organizes another Grassroots Science event. The new course The Farm Experience Internship (FEI) will be presented and the significance it can have for formal education and the agroecology network in the Netherlands. See http://www.st-otherwise.org/thu-4-july-grassroots-science-agroecology-in-the-netherlands/ for more info or the site of the Boerengroep for more info on the FEI course.

GS Agroecology

Origin Food: a market for identity – course starts March 11, 2013

Monday March 11, 2013 the course Origing Food: a market for identity will start again.

The main aim of the course is to provide for a broad and scientific understanding of the growing importance of food products with an indication of origin within the globalising agro-food system. The course is obligatory in the specialisation Gastronomy of the Master Food Technology. No specific prerequisite knowledge is asked. The course is open to students from other Masters. The different educational backgrounds is stimulating for multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary study of OPFs in groups. Language of instruction and examination is English.

Montepulciano d'Abruzzo

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

Food products with a geographical indication are becoming more important worldwide, both in economic and cultural terms. In the course a distinction is made between Origing Food Products with a protected geographical indication (PDO, PGI or TSG) based on EU-regulations such as Parma ham, Boerenleidse kaas, Café de Colombia and not officially acknowledged Origin Food Products locally sourced by e.g. restaurants, shops or online box schemes.

The course deals with a range of questions on OFPs organised in five themes: 1) Linking people, place and product: the construction of distinctiveness; 2) Regulation and legislation; 3) Marketing and branding; 4) Sustainability impact; 5) Consumers’ appreciation, regional gastronomy and food tourism.

The course consists of a combination of lectures, group assignments to study some Origin Food Products more in detail and a gastronomic excursion, often seen the higlight of the course.

Students interested in the course can ask for the Course outline for this year. Contactperson: Dirk.Roep@wur.nl

Learning about the role of agriculture and natural resources in sustainable rural development – student’s reflection (4)

Together with four students of Wageningen University, I spend two weeks in Kaunas, Lithuania to represent Wageningen University, and the Rural Sociology Group, at this years’ ‘Intensive Programme’ on rural development. This post is the last one in a series of posts in which the participating students reflect on the programme and share their experiences.

By Camilo Carrillo Wilisch (Erasmus student Master Environmental Sciences, Wageningen University):

From the 15th to the 28th of April I participated in the IP “Role of agriculture and natural resources in sustainable rural development” in Kaunas, Lithuania. The preparation for this IP started some weeks on forehand. Together with the other students, we discussed about the expectations and motivation for participating in the course. In my case, I visited Lithuania few years ago and I liked the country and it’s people a lot, the IP represented a wonderful opportunity to visit and learn more about Lithuania. In addition I’m a Erasmus-Student from Berlin and I study environmental technology. In Wageningen I followed courses of the BSc Minor Sustainable agriculture and consumption. My appetite for new experiences and knowledge and my interests on the links between rural and urban areas, multifunctional agriculture and sustainable food production and consumption were the main reasons why I wanted to participate in the IP. I did expect to get an overview about the agribusiness sector, it’s relation with rural development, and the natural resource management in Lithuania. With my expectations and my small luggage I traveled to Lithuania in company of the other students.

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Learning about the role of agriculture and natural resources in sustainable rural development – student’s reflection (3)

Together with four students of Wageningen University, I spend two weeks in Kaunas, Lithuania to represent Wageningen University, and the Rural Sociology Group, at this years’ ‘Intensive Programme’ on rural development. In a series of posts, the participating students reflect on the programme and share their experiences.

By Tikva Kooima (student Regional Development and Innovation at Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences (part of Wageningen UR):

In April, we went with a group of five people of Wageningen University to Lithuania to participate in an intensive international conference about rural development, hosted by the Aleksandro Stulginskio University of Kaunas. Without knowing the details, I went quite open-minded to this conference, and filled with lots of ideas, experiences and impressions, I went home.

The first days

The first two days  were filled with lectures which were more or less associated with rural development in Lithuania. It was exciting to follow classes with about 50 international students from all over Europe with totally different backgrounds. In the evening we were introduced to the countries. The different countries presented themselves with a presentation followed by delicious national food specialties.

The trip

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Learning about the role of agriculture and natural resources in sustainable rural development – student’s reflection (2)

Together with four students of Wageningen University, I spend two weeks in Kaunas, Lithuania to represent Wageningen University, and the Rural Sociology Group, at this years’ ‘Intensive Programme’ on rural development. In a series of posts, the participating students reflect on the programme and share their experiences.

By Woutine Pauw (student Master Agricultural & Bioresource Engineering):

On forehand, I did not have the objectives of the Intensive Programme (IP) clear in mind. What would be the program, the methods and the results? What people and cultures will we meet and work together with? What are we going to learn about rural development? I did not know what to expect, but I did know: whatever I would expect was not going to happen – and the other way around. I decided to pretend my brains to be a sponge and let them soak everything I saw around me. So here it is:

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Learning about the role of agriculture and natural resources in sustainable rural development – student’s reflection (1)

Together with four students of Wageningen University, I recently spend two weeks in Kaunas, Lithuania to represent Wageningen University, and the Rural Sociology Group, at this years’ ‘Intensive Programme’ on rural development. In the following series of posts, the participating students reflect on the programme and share their experiences.

By Malou Heidekamp (student Master International Development Studies):

The last two weeks of April I got the opportunity to participate in an Intensive Program (IP) in Lithuania. It is a yearly study program of two weeks to bring students from over whole Europe together to discuss a topic. This year theme was: “Role of Agriculture and Natural Resources in Sustainable Development”. The program consisted of presentations, field excursions in smaller and larger groups, social evenings, group work in international setting and country presentations. In total there were about 40 participants and 20 tutors, a mixed group from different universities, countries and cultures.

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“Kuifje in India” (4)- International Master of Science in Rural Development (IMRD)

The Hindu (“India’s National Newspaper since 1878”) opened yesterday’s edition with agricultural news on the front-page. “Skyrocketing fertilizer prices floor farmers” was the title of the story about increasing costs of inputs. Small and marginal farmers, who constitute almost 80 per cent of the total of farmers in the State of Karnataka, has been hit hard by the skyrocketing prices of all fertilizers. The prices of most fertilizers doubled or even has gone up with over 250 per cent since 2010. It’s rather complicated why the costs are skyrocketing that high, but once again it makes clear how vulnerable marginal and small scale farming is for external costs. Going ‘organic’ or going for a maximum of ALEI (Agriculture on Low External Inputs) is the strategy that most of my colleagues at the UASB plea for, and they really ‘go for it’. Although a ‘top university’ in a scientific way (UASB is nr. 3 ranked of all Agricultural Universities in India), everyone I met so far isn’t just a ‘top scientist’, but also ‘a grass root worker’; very committed with the poor and the very poor, and always trying to find ways to help and to give mute people a voice or some kind of a future.

I participated many seminars and presentations, and I did speak with many professors, researches and teachers. And they all touched my heart, because their heart was always with the oppressed and the poor. I had the opportunity to meet the highest person in charge (Prof. dr. Gwonda, the Vice Chancellor) several times, and every time I spoke with him, I was impressed by his commitment with the message and mission of his institute. To help the poor and the very poor; to empower the weak and the marginalized.

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“Kuifje in India” (3) – International Master of Science in Rural Development (IMRD)

In ‘part 2’ I promised to tell more about ‘farming and rural life in India’. I have to break these promises. Like with so many other things in India, it is impossible to get a good idea about what’s really at stake. Remember the figures I gave you about the average spending in rural and urban India. They indicate wide spread poverty. But at the same time, India is worldwide nr. 1 producer of milk (17 percent of all worldwide cows & buffalo’s are located in India); India is nr. 2 in producing vegetables; the same score with rice; the same with fruit, etcetera. These incredible figures do impress as well. So I was thinking: where are these dairy farms, where are those orchards, where is the field with ‘sweet peppers’? Considering these things, I noticed that it is so hard to imagine what India really look likes. I flew to New Delhi and took some metro’s to get an impression of this city (I didn’t), and then flew to Bangalore to get dropped off at the campus just outside this enormous city. So what do I know? What have I seen? Some cows in the street, a bull near a Hindu temple. So nothing at all so far…..

If you look at the figures, you hardly can imagine that India is ‘one country’. India is 100 times as big as The Netherlands, and the population over 80 times. So the whole of India has (in average) almost the same population density as Holland; can you imagine…. ? It has 22 States (India is a federation) and there are 17 official languages. Languages, that are completely different, and although Hindu is the official language (and many people do speak more or less some basic English), the coherence of this nation is rather fragile (not to mention the differences in religion: Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist and Christians). So what about ‘farming and rural life‘ (the title of one of our RSO courses at the WUR); is it possible to get any idea about that?

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“Kuifje in India” (1) – International Master of Rural Development (IMRD)

The University of Agricultural Sciences Bangalore (‘UASB’, in Hindu it is named ‘GVKV’) is ‘associate partner’ of the IMRD consortium. This International Master of Science in Rural Development (‘IMRD’) is an EU funded Erasmus Mundus Program, which originally (it started in 2004) was meant for non EU students to enter an European Master program. Since then, the program became more and more popular; also because it was opened for European students. But more changes took places and put the IMRD into the pictures: since some years, the IMRD not only has full partners (through the Atlantis program) in the US (Florida and Arkansas), but also cooperates with so-called ‘associated partners’ all over the world. These partners are in South Africa (Pretoria University), Beijing (China agricultural University) and Ecuador (Espol).

Students who enter into the IMRD program, have the opportunity to do a ‘specialized module’ in one of those ‘associated partner universities’ (the other 3 semesters has to be chosen out of Ghent, Berlin, Rennes, Nitra, Pisa or Wageningen). In this (‘spring’)semester, 3 IMRD students are in Bangalore: two of them (Basavaraj and Lauren) for their thesis (doing their data collection in India), and one (Tungaa) for the specialized module in agricultural economics.

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Learning about the role of agriculture and natural resources in sustainable rural development

Together with four students of Wageningen University, I spend two weeks in Kaunas, Lithuania to represent Wageningen University, and the Rural Sociology Group, at this years’ ‘Intensive Programme’ on rural development. In this post I would like to reflect on this interesting experience and share some of the activities, impressions and outcomes.

  

Intensive programme?

An ‘Intensive Programme’ (or IP) is a short study programme bringing together different EU member states’ students and teachers from higher education institutes to study a relevant topic, in this case: rural development. EU’s main motivation to finance these programmes is to encourage multinational learning and teaching in the EU. The Rural Sociology Group has been participating in IP’s on rural development for some years now. Last years’ IP, hosted by colleagues of Padova University, focused on ‘the role of agriculture in territorial identity’ and took place in the Belluno province in the Italian Dolomites. We have also participated in IP’s with other themes. More recent, colleague Petra Derksen participated in an IP on traditional foods and micro-organisms in Romania. In a series of posts on this weblog she, and participating students, reflect on their experiences in this programme.        

The role of agriculture and natural resources in sustainable rural development

This years’ IP, on rural development, focused on ‘the role of agriculture and natural resources in sustainable rural development’. The programme was hosted by colleagues from the Aleksandras Stulginskis University in Kaunas, Lithuania. Twenty tutors and more than forty students came together for two weeks to discuss and learn about (Lithuanian) rural development. Participants represented universities from: Slovenia, Hungary, Slovakia, Italy, Belgium, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Spain and the Netherlands.

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