The 'problematique' with respect to industrialised country agricultures

Hubert, B.; Ison, R. and Röling, N. (2000). The 'problematique' with respect to industrialised country agricultures. In: Cerf, Marianne; Gibbon, David; Hubert, Bernard; Ison, Ray; Jiggins, Janice; Paine, Mark; Proost, Jet and Röling, Niels eds. Cow up a Tree: Knowing and Learning for Change in Agriculture. Case Studies from Industrialised Countries. Paris: INRA (Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique) Editions, pp. 13–30.


The economic, social and ecological factors which give rise to a contemporary 'problematique' in agricultures in industrialised countries are explored. The current situation has emerged from a half-century commitment to linear models of technological improvement and social change characterised as the 'agricultural treadmill'. We argue that this treadmill has found its limits. New issues are emerging from present debates involving a large number of stakeholders outside of the traditional agricultural world. Examples include environment preservation, food safety and quality, rural and urban relationships, employment and multifunctionality of farm activities. This context perpetuating: (i) past practices and alliances and (ii) the historical commitment to the view that development is an appropriation of knowledge produced outside the farming spheres, will consign farmers' associations, extension services, agricultural research and training to remain on the agricultural treadmill. Instead there is a need for a change in practices associated with knowing and learning. This change needs to be tackled from both theoretical and methodological angles to support the collective action of a wide diversity of new actors having scant experience of working together. Research, education and training are then faced with a major discontinuity that requires ongoing learning and knowledge production processes occurring inside a diversity of collectives. Triggering these new approaches is the challenge of this book.

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