June 17, 2013
June 15, 2013
June 11, 2013
In fact, data shows that small farms almost always produce far more agricultural output per unit area than larger farms, do so more efficiently, and produce food rather than export crops and fuels. This holds true whether we are talking about industrial countries or any country in the third world. This is widely recognized by agricultural economists as the “inverse relationship between farm size and output.” When I examined the relationship between farm size and total output for fifteen countries in the third world, in all cases relatively smaller farm sizes were much more productive per unit area—2 to 10 times more productive—than larger ones.
17. Such resource-conserving, low-external-input techniques have a proven potential to
significantly improve yields. In what may be the most systematic study of the potential of
such techniques to date, Jules Pretty et al. compared the impacts of 286 recent sustainable
agriculture projects in 57 poor countries covering 37 million hectares (3 per cent of the
cultivated area in developing countries). They found that such interventions increased
productivity on 12.6 millions farms, with an average crop increase of 79 per cent, while
improving the supply of critical environmental services. Disaggregated data from this
research showed that average food production per household rose by 1.7 tonnes per year
(up by 73 per cent) for 4.42 million small farmers growing cereals and roots on 3.6 million
hectares, and that increase in food production was 17 tonnes per year (up 150 per cent) for
146,000 farmers on 542,000 hectares cultivating roots (potato, sweet potato, cassava). After
UNCTAD and UNEP reanalyzed the database to produce a summary of the impacts in
Africa, it was found that the average crop yield increase was even higher for these projects
than the global average of 79 per cent at 116 per cent increase for all African projects and
128 per cent increase for projects in East Africa.
18. The most recent large-scale study points to the same conclusions. Research
commissioned by the Foresight Global Food and Farming Futures project of the UK
Government reviewed 40 projects in 20 African countries where sustainable intensification
was developed during the 2000s. The projects included crop improvements (particularly
improvements through participatory plant breeding on hitherto neglected orphan crops),
integrated pest management, soil conservation and agro-forestry. By early 2010, these
projects had documented benefits for 10.39 million farmers and their families and
improvements on approximately 12.75 million hectares. Crop yields more than doubled on
average (increasing 2.13-fold) over a period of 3-10 years, resulting in an increase in
aggregate food production of 5.79 million tonnes per year, equivalent to 557 kg per farming
In order to reverse these trends and provide a life with dignity for farming peoples, protect rural environments, and correct the structural causes of the food crisis, we need to revitalize family and peasant farming. That means restoring the public sector rural budgets that were cut under neoliberal policies, restoring minimum price guarantees, credit and other forms of support, and undertaking redistributive agrarian reform. The peasant and family farm sectors in most countries cannot be rebuilt without land reform, which redistributes land from export elites to food-producing peasants and family farmers. This is a central pillar of the alternative proposal for our food and agriculture systems that is put forth by the international farmers’ movement.
June 7, 2013
These people think that Africa is a country of animals, that we do not think, that we know nothing, but they are wrong. We are human beings, we know what we want and we will fight on to victory.
- Zimbabwean participant at the 2011 International Conference of Peasants and Farmers vs. land-grabbing
June 3, 2013
“USDA has once again failed to protect the food supply from GE crop contamination,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director at Center for Food Safety. “This incident underscores why stronger regulation is long overdue. Congress needs to investigate how this occurred and the prevalence of contamination. Until then, USDA, at a minimum, should immediately place a moratorium on open-air field testing of genetically engineered crops.”
June 1, 2013
March 27, 2013
European Union leaders don’t want the negotiations to include discussions on their restrictions on genetically modified crops and other regulations that keep U.S. farm products out of Europe. But Obama says it’s hard to imagine an agreement that doesn’t address those issues. Powerful U.S. agricultural lobbies will do their best to make sure Congress rejects any pact that fails to address the restrictions.
Obama, in a talk with his export council this month, suggested this could be a deal-breaker.
“There are certain countries whose agricultural sector is very strong, who tended to block at critical junctures the kinds of broad-based trade agreements that would make it a good deal for us,” he said. “If one of the areas where we’ve got the greatest comparative advantage is cordoned off from an overall trade deal, it’s very hard to get something going.”
Of course, the rhetoric at the beginning of talks might not preclude compromise in the end. In his talk with the export council, Obama expressed optimism. He noted that austerity measures in response to the debt crisis in the EU have caused European countries to look to a free trade deal as a rare opportunity to boost the economy and improve competitiveness.
“I think they are hungrier for a deal than they have been in the past,” he said.
March 19, 2013
February 23, 2013
November 10, 2012