Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Plantin’ Chickens

Many of my Aggie friends take offense to the numerous Aggie jokes told around the world. I however, both, find the humor, and realize the free publicity A&M receives from these jokes. One of my favorites is about an Aggie that decided to raise chickens. He goes to the feed store and buys some chicks. He takes the chicks home, and plants them with their heads sticking up. He waters them, but they die. He goes back to the feed store and tells the proprietor that he bought defective chicks, and gets another set. This time he plants them with their heads sticking down. He waters them, but they die. He then sends a letter to his Alma Mater, describing the problem. They send a letter back asking for a soil sample.

Guess this is a case of agriculture confusion. I’m reminded of another story of a close female friend (you know who you are) that proceeded to argue with me that square bales of hay could not be “bales” of hay; they were shaped nothing like a “bell.” Apparently she always thought a “round bale” of hay was called a bale because of its shape! But probably my favorite example of agriculture confusion was when a member of my Sunday school class in Houston told me how much he liked my cowboy boots. He then proceeded to ask if they were CACTUS. Of course they were not cactus but rather ostrich!

As Will Rogers once said, “Everyone is ignorant, only on different subjects.” It just seems a greater percentage of our population lacks sufficient knowledge related to agriculture. Now, I don’t want to beat a dead dog. I already made a case for Agricultural Literacy in my last blog. However, I do want to focus a bit more on the value agriculture could have around the world.

According to World Vision, “Close to 799 million people go to bed hungry each night — most of them women and children and more than 153 million children below the age of 5 are underweight.” They go on to say that, “Reducing malnutrition among children under age 5 in poor countries can decrease child mortality by 20 percent.”

Research from the Penn State University estimates that “two-thirds of the Third World Population draws a living directly from agriculture; meaning 60% of the absolute poor in Third World are farmers.

Even a dumb ole’ Aggie could conclude that with over half the Third World being farmers we should be doing a better job of empowering them to feed themselves and the world. Dr. Norman Borlaug, senior consultant and 1970 Nobel laureate once said, "Agriculture is the engine that stimulates change in rural development. A farmer's neighbors come to see the results of using new methods, and a village is transformed very quickly."

It’s easy for me to say this, but much more difficult to conclude HOW we can reach these farmers. That is where you come in! I hope you will join me in starting a discussion on how we can join together to change the world. I hope to hear from you.

Aspire to new heights!

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