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The business of voluntourism: do Western do-gooders actually do harm?
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JRsec Offline
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Post: #21
RE: The business of voluntourism: do Western do-gooders actually do harm?
(11-04-2018 08:36 PM)Captain Bearcat Wrote:  
(10-30-2018 07:50 PM)bullet Wrote:  
(10-26-2018 04:36 PM)Captain Bearcat Wrote:  
(10-25-2018 11:50 AM)bullet Wrote:  On a related note, my niece did the Peace Corps. It was prestigious for the village leaders to have a Peace Corps Volunteer. But they didn't pay any attention to them. When they brought farming techniques, they just kept doing it the way they always had. It was very discouraging. She saw them not changing, knowing that some of their children would die from diseases that wouldn't be fatal in the states. She got very ill and had to leave early. She left sick and disheartened.

A friend of mine (not a farmer) went to Ecuador and told me that Ecuadorians had followed American advice about farming. The first year they had high yields, but after that the effects were disastrous. They claimed it wore out the soil. My friend used this as evidence that traditional Ecuadorian methods were superior to American methods.

Few Peace Corps types are actually farmers. They think farming is something that any idiot can do, so they read a few books and think they're qualified to educate the peasants.

But modern American farming is one of the most knowledge-intensive industries we have. Most farmers these days have 4 year college degrees, and the only reason some farmers didn't go to college is that they literally have been learning it since the time they could walk.

Even if the Peace Corps sent American farmers to teach, the average Ecuadorian adult dropped out of school in 5th grade. That's the average in the whole country; in rural areas it's probably closer to 3rd grade. How can you teach crop genetics to someone who's never taken a biology class? How can you teach soil chemistry to someone who's never taken a chemistry class?

It takes American farmers years to learn this stuff in a formalized curriculum from professional teachers. Yet we're sending unqualified city kids to teach it in 3 months to people who don't even know their multiplication tables.

Further, most 3rd world countries lack the infrastructure to implement American-style farming. Every acre in the USA has had its soil quality mapped by the USDA. New diseases and pests are tracked and researched by a network of hundreds of universities. These universities have agricultural extension offices in every county to give real guidance and training to farmers. There's hundreds of agricultural magazines, trade publications, and newspapers to distribute the latest information. American farmers test their soil chemistry every year to see what it needs - how can a farmer in Ecuador do this when there are no soil labs? Even if an Ecuadorian farmer knows what he needs to do, how can he get enough potash, nitrous, or any of the dozens of other chemicals US farmers rely on when there's no distribution system for it?

These Africans didn't do basic stuff. They were doing it the way it was done 1000 years ago. And while my niece was not a farm expert, she was supervised by someone who was.

I'd be curious to find out what type of practices they weren't doing.

I'm not an expert in this at all. But I was under the impression that other than gradual increases in genetics cause by selective breeding and the addition of new crops with the Columbian exchange (i.e., New World crops coming to the Old World and vice versa), there wasn't much technological progress in farming from Roman times until tractors were invented in the 20th century.

The introduction of petroleum based fertilizers beginning around 1885 changed the whole world. Yields increased close to 15 fold and enabled the population explosion that took us from a fluctuating but static 3.5 to 4 billion for millennia to the 8 billion we have today in a little over 130 years. I shudder to think where we would be population wise had it not been for WWI, the 1918 flu, and WWII, and the various political purges of the fascists and communists during that same time frame. The latter were horrible, but we are outstripping the Earth's resources now. The demand upon the seas, the aquifers, and upon the land are enormous.

My point is without petroleum based fertilizer we could only successfully maintain a population of between 3.5 to 4 billion for thousands of years. When peak oil has passed and petroleum based fertilizer has to compete with more urgent energy demands for the base product, the return to a less productive farming system will be catastrophic.
(This post was last modified: 11-04-2018 08:50 PM by JRsec.)
11-04-2018 08:44 PM
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Captain Bearcat Offline
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Post: #22
RE: The business of voluntourism: do Western do-gooders actually do harm?
(11-04-2018 08:44 PM)JRsec Wrote:  
(11-04-2018 08:36 PM)Captain Bearcat Wrote:  
(10-30-2018 07:50 PM)bullet Wrote:  
(10-26-2018 04:36 PM)Captain Bearcat Wrote:  
(10-25-2018 11:50 AM)bullet Wrote:  On a related note, my niece did the Peace Corps. It was prestigious for the village leaders to have a Peace Corps Volunteer. But they didn't pay any attention to them. When they brought farming techniques, they just kept doing it the way they always had. It was very discouraging. She saw them not changing, knowing that some of their children would die from diseases that wouldn't be fatal in the states. She got very ill and had to leave early. She left sick and disheartened.

A friend of mine (not a farmer) went to Ecuador and told me that Ecuadorians had followed American advice about farming. The first year they had high yields, but after that the effects were disastrous. They claimed it wore out the soil. My friend used this as evidence that traditional Ecuadorian methods were superior to American methods.

Few Peace Corps types are actually farmers. They think farming is something that any idiot can do, so they read a few books and think they're qualified to educate the peasants.

But modern American farming is one of the most knowledge-intensive industries we have. Most farmers these days have 4 year college degrees, and the only reason some farmers didn't go to college is that they literally have been learning it since the time they could walk.

Even if the Peace Corps sent American farmers to teach, the average Ecuadorian adult dropped out of school in 5th grade. That's the average in the whole country; in rural areas it's probably closer to 3rd grade. How can you teach crop genetics to someone who's never taken a biology class? How can you teach soil chemistry to someone who's never taken a chemistry class?

It takes American farmers years to learn this stuff in a formalized curriculum from professional teachers. Yet we're sending unqualified city kids to teach it in 3 months to people who don't even know their multiplication tables.

Further, most 3rd world countries lack the infrastructure to implement American-style farming. Every acre in the USA has had its soil quality mapped by the USDA. New diseases and pests are tracked and researched by a network of hundreds of universities. These universities have agricultural extension offices in every county to give real guidance and training to farmers. There's hundreds of agricultural magazines, trade publications, and newspapers to distribute the latest information. American farmers test their soil chemistry every year to see what it needs - how can a farmer in Ecuador do this when there are no soil labs? Even if an Ecuadorian farmer knows what he needs to do, how can he get enough potash, nitrous, or any of the dozens of other chemicals US farmers rely on when there's no distribution system for it?

These Africans didn't do basic stuff. They were doing it the way it was done 1000 years ago. And while my niece was not a farm expert, she was supervised by someone who was.

I'd be curious to find out what type of practices they weren't doing.

I'm not an expert in this at all. But I was under the impression that other than gradual increases in genetics cause by selective breeding and the addition of new crops with the Columbian exchange (i.e., New World crops coming to the Old World and vice versa), there wasn't much technological progress in farming from Roman times until tractors were invented in the 20th century.

The introduction of petroleum based fertilizers beginning around 1885 changed the whole world. Yields increased close to 15 fold and enabled the population explosion that took us from a fluctuating but static 3.5 to 4 billion for millennia to the 8 billion we have today in a little over 130 years. I shudder to think where we would be population wise had it not been for WWI, the 1918 flu, and WWII, and the various political purges of the fascists and communists during that same time frame. The latter were horrible, but we are outstripping the Earth's resources now. The demand upon the seas, the aquifers, and upon the land are enormous.

My point is without petroleum based fertilizer we could only successfully maintain a population of between 3.5 to 4 billion for thousands of years. When peak oil has passed and petroleum based fertilizer has to compete with more urgent energy demands for the base product, the return to a less productive farming system will be catastrophic.

Ok. Is that what the Peace Corps is teaching substinence farmers - application of synthetic fertilizers? Because I would think that transporting fertilizer in large quantities to remote 3rd world villages is too expensive to be practical. They don't have distribution networks for that sort of bulk transport.
11-06-2018 08:36 AM
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JRsec Offline
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Post: #23
RE: The business of voluntourism: do Western do-gooders actually do harm?
(11-06-2018 08:36 AM)Captain Bearcat Wrote:  
(11-04-2018 08:44 PM)JRsec Wrote:  
(11-04-2018 08:36 PM)Captain Bearcat Wrote:  
(10-30-2018 07:50 PM)bullet Wrote:  
(10-26-2018 04:36 PM)Captain Bearcat Wrote:  A friend of mine (not a farmer) went to Ecuador and told me that Ecuadorians had followed American advice about farming. The first year they had high yields, but after that the effects were disastrous. They claimed it wore out the soil. My friend used this as evidence that traditional Ecuadorian methods were superior to American methods.

Few Peace Corps types are actually farmers. They think farming is something that any idiot can do, so they read a few books and think they're qualified to educate the peasants.

But modern American farming is one of the most knowledge-intensive industries we have. Most farmers these days have 4 year college degrees, and the only reason some farmers didn't go to college is that they literally have been learning it since the time they could walk.

Even if the Peace Corps sent American farmers to teach, the average Ecuadorian adult dropped out of school in 5th grade. That's the average in the whole country; in rural areas it's probably closer to 3rd grade. How can you teach crop genetics to someone who's never taken a biology class? How can you teach soil chemistry to someone who's never taken a chemistry class?

It takes American farmers years to learn this stuff in a formalized curriculum from professional teachers. Yet we're sending unqualified city kids to teach it in 3 months to people who don't even know their multiplication tables.

Further, most 3rd world countries lack the infrastructure to implement American-style farming. Every acre in the USA has had its soil quality mapped by the USDA. New diseases and pests are tracked and researched by a network of hundreds of universities. These universities have agricultural extension offices in every county to give real guidance and training to farmers. There's hundreds of agricultural magazines, trade publications, and newspapers to distribute the latest information. American farmers test their soil chemistry every year to see what it needs - how can a farmer in Ecuador do this when there are no soil labs? Even if an Ecuadorian farmer knows what he needs to do, how can he get enough potash, nitrous, or any of the dozens of other chemicals US farmers rely on when there's no distribution system for it?

These Africans didn't do basic stuff. They were doing it the way it was done 1000 years ago. And while my niece was not a farm expert, she was supervised by someone who was.

I'd be curious to find out what type of practices they weren't doing.

I'm not an expert in this at all. But I was under the impression that other than gradual increases in genetics cause by selective breeding and the addition of new crops with the Columbian exchange (i.e., New World crops coming to the Old World and vice versa), there wasn't much technological progress in farming from Roman times until tractors were invented in the 20th century.

The introduction of petroleum based fertilizers beginning around 1885 changed the whole world. Yields increased close to 15 fold and enabled the population explosion that took us from a fluctuating but static 3.5 to 4 billion for millennia to the 8 billion we have today in a little over 130 years. I shudder to think where we would be population wise had it not been for WWI, the 1918 flu, and WWII, and the various political purges of the fascists and communists during that same time frame. The latter were horrible, but we are outstripping the Earth's resources now. The demand upon the seas, the aquifers, and upon the land are enormous.

My point is without petroleum based fertilizer we could only successfully maintain a population of between 3.5 to 4 billion for thousands of years. When peak oil has passed and petroleum based fertilizer has to compete with more urgent energy demands for the base product, the return to a less productive farming system will be catastrophic.

Ok. Is that what the Peace Corps is teaching substinence farmers - application of synthetic fertilizers? Because I would think that transporting fertilizer in large quantities to remote 3rd world villages is too expensive to be practical. They don't have distribution networks for that sort of bulk transport.

I was referring to the last half of your second paragraph. I would think fertilizer usage and soil testing would be pretty standard everywhere, but perhaps not. I can see where in some locales run off would be an issue.
11-06-2018 10:18 AM
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