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2011 Judges

Oct 11, 2011
05:43

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Overall assessment: Only addresses one sector, but small scale agriculture is very important in many parts of the world. Proposal is well thought out and could have an impact in the near term. And it’s good to have a proposal that addresses agriculture. Team may want to suggest how their approach could integrate with approaches that might be taken in other sectors. Specific comments and suggestions for improvement: - In principle quite convincing educational project targeted on small scale farming. It includes a convincing strategy for an important sector; but it also relatively narrow in scope. - An educational program for small scale farmers is a fine idea for the near future. Unfortunately, the impact of this proposal is difficult to quantify. This proposal also suffers from the emphasis on one sector of the economy and neglect of everything else.

2011 Judges

Oct 11, 2011
05:45

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Only addresses one sector, but small scale agriculture is very important in many parts of the world. Proposal is well thought out and could have an impact in the near term. And it’s good to have a proposal that addresses agriculture. Team may want to suggest how their approach could integrate with approaches that might be taken in other sectors. Specific comments and suggestions for improvement: - In principle quite convincing educational project targeted on small scale farming. It includes a convincing strategy for an important sector; but it also relatively narrow in scope. - An educational program for small scale farmers is a fine idea for the near future. Unfortunately, the impact of this proposal is difficult to quantify. This proposal also suffers from the emphasis on one sector of the economy and neglect of everything else.

James Greyson

Oct 24, 2011
04:24

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Would it help to have some simple filtering of ideas to separate business as usual ideas from genuinely sustainable ones? • Top-down teaching vs collaborative learning-together. • Linear economy (high fertiliser and GMO input) vs circular economy regenerating soils and ecosystems. • Lower-carbon goal vs carbon negative (via biomass carbon-removal, composting and biochar) • Loss of land tenure and access vs land reform including regaining access to overseas-owned land during times of food-insecurity. • Fitting farmers into national economy vs fitting local/regional economies to farmers.

Mark Roest

Nov 10, 2011
04:26

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The judges have it wrong, regarding neglect of sectors. Go back and look at the numbers again: the vast majority of the population is still rural, and that is AFTER the rural economies were broken by exploitation, and massive numbers of people fled to the cities. Do what this proposal calls for, and make space for contributions from elsewhere to enhance it, and you will see the recovery of the rural economies, and people returning to the land, and consequently, reduction in pressures in urban areas, making it easier to use proposals that are relevant to cities successfully. I.E., not only is this about the most important sector, though urban dwellers don't recognize it, it is the sector that leverages all the others. So please drop the objection and rate this program as highly as it should be.

Mark Roest

Nov 10, 2011
05:11

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I missed a point about difficulty quantifying impact. Actually, if you know the causes and effects, it is not difficult to make realistic though 'fuzzy' estimates of impact. Bio-Intensive gardening (a la Manor House in western Kenya) produces several times more food with 1/6 the water and 1/50th the energy of conventional agriculture. Manor House would have production records from before and after their training programs, which have thousands of graduates, and you could get them on short notice by providing a small amount of funding to divert the necessary labor to the task. Econometric analysis, including input-output analyses, done using Geographic Information Systems, can generate realistic estimates across sectors. In this case, you would want to model the growth capacity of sustainable rural environments, then do a 'reservoir-filling' analysis of how fast the current rural farming economy is likely to grow into that capacity, and what margin is left into which people now struggling in cities can fit, learn, and participate. Then you would look at the infiltration of people who work in sectors of the economy that serve the newly-prosperous farming sector, also largely comprised of people who are not making it in cities, hence contributing to social ills that spill over and impact the cost of running cities. Then you look at the recirculating effects among sectors in the rural areas, with the previous steps taken into consideration, as is usually done for industrialized economies. You also look at the infiltration of mental and economic energy into the cities, which are under less stress, AND have larger markets to serve with specialized goods and services that are valuable to the people living in rural areas, and now thriving, and celebrating their transformation, and hence open to more new inputs from the outside world. Once you accept the symbiotic relationship that is supposed to be present between rural and urban environments (in Nigeria, before oil, people went back and forth frequently between their urban homes and their farms; one farm I was told of fed and clothed 200 people on 2 acres of heap garden), and you understand the relationships, you can count and multiply and derive reasonable estimates (again, GIS makes it far easier).

Dennis Peterson

Nov 10, 2011
06:32

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On the other hand, bear in mind that in most places, urban people have much lower birthrates. Getting people to return to the land isn't necessarily positive. But that's more a criticism of comment #3 than the proposal itself. I particularly like the idea of training farmers to retain more carbon in the soil...and I think they should get paid for doing that.
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