June 16, 2008

A poem from long ago

I found this poem in an old shirt box labelled, 'Interesting Stuff'.

Why do they do what they do?

Economists, agronomists, planners of late
Have discovered a new way to pontificate
Beyond mere jargon, like ‘success enhancement’;
‘Integrated development’, rural advancement
Working in all their infinite wisdom
They are 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 the profoundest of questions
With the diverse hypotheses they 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”?

Larry Fisher