It often takes city-dwellers until they have lots of gray hair to fully appreciate the importance of agriculture. Most of the organizations that fund agricultural research in the US today immediately saw the importance of public health and were slower learners with respect to agriculture:
- The US government had public health programs in the 18th Century but took 63 years from the Declaration of Independence to form an agriculture office within the Patent Office in 1837.
- The Rockefeller Foundation started public health programs immediately but took 28 years before it formed an agricultural research program in 1943.
- The League of Nations had public health programs from its early days, but didn’t recognize the importance of agriculture until it was re-constituted as the UN a generation later in 1945.
- The Ford Foundation didn’t get into agricultural research in a big way until about 20 years into its life in the 1950s.
- The Gates Foundation didn’t begin agricultural research until the middle of the last decade, after almost a decade of supporting public health.
At Grow Further, many of us are city-folk, but we see outside of the bubble and learn fast.
We learn from the formal programs and from informally interacting with the farmers and developing country immigrants in the group. We don’t need 20 years to realize that innovation in agriculture is just as important as that in public health.