I am sure you have all heard that famous fish quote probably hundreds of times “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”.
Ok, but what happens if the proverbial man loses his fishing pole or the fish somehow run out of that river? What if he doesn’t have the adapted fishing rod?
Taking part in the Foresight4food International Workshop made me understand why it cannot be taken for granted that “learning to fish” has been seen to be a default major need in every developmental problem. That was the first lesson.
There are clearly many facets to development in a country, different countries offer different context, thus, employing a systemic approach under the alliance between foresight and food systems can enable “the man” to have the ownership mentality in the development process by asking the agent proffering “the solution” some relevant questions like:
- Who are you planning to teach [to fish]? Do all of us benefit? Women, children?
- What methods work and who is the best teacher?
- What materials do we need: fishing rod, bait, boat…?
- Who is giving us the access to the fishing waters?
- Who is annexing fish stocks?
- How are we going to diversify our diet?
The second lesson I’m taking with me from the Foresight4food International Workshop is that there are more underlying questions that come with “learning to fish”.
Decades of negative communication about hunger and hopelessness in developing countries has resulted in a general public’s perception that the fight against poverty does not work. There is a need to have new narratives that show that it is possible to change the world. People are searching for meaning and purpose in their lives – lives that are not solely defined by economics and business, but which also encompasses social cultural and environmental aspects.
Finally, here is my third lesson; foresight in food systems can be the mechanism to make those new narratives emerge and bring back the motivation and hope to take action. When more people know about alternatives to shape more sustainable food systems, they are more motivated to engage and become an agent of change.
We are young professionals for agricultural development; we will be the ones that will stay by the river. We are highly motivated and hopeful, asking relevant questions is a part of our essence. However, so far, we do not think about why or how we use the future, we just do it. We are still to become future literate.
I believe that foresight in food systems can be a tool that will enable us to thrive in the coming era. Being included in the foresight processes will enable us to use the future in order to shape the choices of today.
We are willing to take part in this learning process as a partner and we count on you for that. You can count us for the next rendezvous!
Picture credit: Myriam Perez