Time to take a whole new look at agriculture

Agriculture is tough nut to crack, not only for those involved in actually operating the sector, but also for those trying to manage it.

Over decades, many approaches were tried under various systems of government: In Europe for example, after the creation of the European Economic Community back in the middle of 20th century, the CAP, Common Agricultural Policy, was devised to ensure that farmers were kept on their land to continue to produce milk, grain, meat and eggs. It turned out to be such an expensive policy that governments began to feel guilty for spending so much of taxpayer dollars to maintain mountains of butter no one would consume, it had to be abandoned.

In the former Soviet Union, the collective farming system of “kolkhoz”s and “sovkhoz”s simply killed the instinct for working the land in a nation of mujiks, traditionally known for their love of earth.

And in Canada, as has been widely reported within the last few days, farmers, free to do whatever they wish with their land and animals, will have their incomes drastically reduced this year due to a combination of a number of factors, including the price fluctuations in the international markets.

It is clear that even with the technological advances we have been witnessing in all walks of life, agriculture remains very much a function of the climatic conditions.

As the last few weeks will bear witness, within less than a month, we have made a transformation from drought conditions to the wettest month of May for the last eight-nine years.

And we still don’t know how the coming weeks and months could affect the harvest this year.

While there are efforts to genetically modify seeds to reduce this dependency on weather conditions, there is a lot of opposition, mainly from the consumers, but also from the producers, to the idea of dealing with produce which is not completely natural. There are ethical, social, cultural and scientific concerns.

Agriculture is what feeds the world population, and it seems like it is high time the world’s scientists came together to take a careful look at how we produce and consume food with a view to completely reorganizing agricultural patterns to ensure fairness for both producers and consumers.

Unless we, as the only thinking creatures on the Earth, manage to devise a cleverer system of producing, distributing and consuming food, we will just be feeding the tensions, conflicts and injustices that will keep dividing us further and further.