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February 2009: A Poem by Simon Maina Kamwana

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This poem, by Simon Maina Kamwana, who is affiliated with the DAP organization in Kenya, was sent to Sandra Mardigian, who forwarded it to us. We print it with his permission.


economists, agronomists and planners of late
have discovered a new way to pontificate.
beyond mere jargon, like "participatory action research",
"integrated development", and "rural advancement"
working in all their infinite wisdom
they're trying to define a "farming system"
to answer the question for all of you
" why do farmers do what they do?”

at colleges, universities and experiment stations round the globe
in offices, labs and on farms they probe;
through consultancy survey in developing nations,
upstream and downstream experimentation,
with yield rates, inputs and multiple regressions,
attempting to explain that profoundest of questions,
with the diverse hypotheses that each eschew
on why farmers do what they do.

variability and generalization,
indigenous knowledge and maximization,
the issues discussed, the factor 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 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?






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