Monday, June 10, 2013

Research

Alright, folks. I was warned that things may take a while to get rolling, and they did. Here's a little update on my research

Originally, the plan was to go out into the field, interview farmers about their agricultural practices, and compare the effectiveness of organic vs conventional methods. There is just one little problem... nobody seems to have hopped on the organic train. In fact, people seem to think it just doesn't work. I've spent the past few weeks surveying students, asking them what they think about the concept of growing plants without artificial inputs. I received a lot of reasons why they think it wouldn't work.
  • Plants don't grow as big without fertilizer,
  • insects eat all the plants without pesticides,
  • there is more work involved,
  • and the Chinese people don't like change (actual quote).
These were top reasons, which aren't necessarily true, but understandable worries given the pressure to produce enough for your family and/or make a reasonable income. Trying a new method of agriculture would not be without a certain amount of risk, there is always a learning curve. Finally, after a long discussion about organic farming with a member from my lab, we decided that China still has a long way to go. Education, workshops involving alternative methods, and a pilot project showcasing them would be a great start. If only I had more time here! 

The other interesting fact that I discovered was that many farmers have switched to growing ornamental plants. The city is very fond of covering every park and roadside with intricate displays of ornamentals. Trees, bushes, and grasses are all needed to fill the green spaces for new developments. This need has likely driven the shift to letting large companies mass produce all of the food. Which will make it even more difficult to find someone who would be interested in organic food production. 

every plant on campus was planted within the last 8 years
So that's where I'm at right now, good thing I put together a back up project! I'll update you with the details of the other project when things are finalized. Hopefully I can still redesign my original topic, I was looking forward to spending more time in the rural areas.