Jan Douwe Van der Ploeg
Jan Douwe van der Ploeg (1950) is currently holding the chair of Transition Processes at Wageningen University. He has been member, for eight years, of the Council for the Rural Areas. At European level he participated, a.o. in the Rural Development Conferences at Cork and Salzburg.
He graduated as agricultural engineer at Wageningen University. His first work experience was in Peru (where he was involved in the land reform process), Colombia (formation of rural cooperatives) and in Guinea Bissau (construction of rural water supply services). In the early 1980's he designed a multidisciplinary research program that focussed on the complex and often contradictory relations between farming and markets.
He developed with his colleagues a new theoretical approach that made it possible to understand the impressive and multi-dimensional heterogeneity of European agriculture - conceptualized in terms of farming styles.
Recently, Van der Ploeg published 'The Virtual Farmer' (2003; Royal van Gorcum). In this study it is argued that knowledge on agriculture as produced and accumulated by expert systems such as universities and ministries of agriculture, is increasingly at odds with reality. In a book that followed later (‘The New Peasantries’) he argued that the further development of peasant agriculture could be a good alternative out of the many difficulties that both developed and developing countries are facing.
Jan Douwe van der Ploeg is actively involved in several farmers' initiatives.