On paper agriculturists and farm boys.


There has always been an apparent divide among agriculturists. The ones in the academe and research, drowning themselves in experiments and field trials, innovating and blazing the trail to push agricultural technology towards new horizons, and the ones on the fields, producing food, fiber and other products, while honing the craft through practical experiences. Seemingly, a huge dichotomy, but is it really?

Agriculture is defined by Merriam Webster as:

the science, art, or practice of cultivating the soil, producing crops, and raising livestock and in varying degrees the preparation and marketing of the resulting products

and in turn those who are practice agriculture are called agriculturists, stands to reason, yes? And yet there is still that divide between people who do it inside the four corners and those that work beyond the walls.

I, for one, have been called a paper agriculturist, which as the name suggests, an agriculturist solely in theory or on paper; but is an agriculturist defined simply by the act of getting his hands dirty? How about our heroes on the fields, the farmers? Are they really not scientists in their own right? They observe and record natural phenomena on the fields and pass on the knowledge to the next generation. The management techniques they employ are brought upon by centuries of experience, some could be easily verified by, you guessed it, science.

Sometimes, however, we look at each other derisively, along the lines of “I know better than the other guy.” This is true, in some aspects, one guy is indeed better than the other. But as I’ve said in one interview for a scholarship: I do not view people who know more than I do as rivals, but rather as people who I can work and collaborate with; because no one has the monopoly on skills and knowledge.

Each have their own knowledge and skill blind spots, instead of giving each other the side eye during gatherings, conferences or on the fields, what we can do better is to simply talk. Sharing experiences and insights benefits everyone; because at the heart of the matter, we all work in the same industry and we are united by this goal: To make agriculture productive and economically inclusive.

I look forward to the day those who work inside and outside can freely exchange ideas without trepidation. Collaboration better serves the nation, better serves the industry, better serves the people. So whether you produce the food, help plan for it, cook it, buy it, sell it; as long as you eat, you are in the agriculture industry.

TL;DR: We are all agriculturists, somehow, based on the definition of Agriculture by Merriam-Webster. Collaboration is the way to go.