A distribution problem: Experts recommend that governments encourage peasant agriculture

By Darío Aranda  Pagina12  January 19, 2018   

Editor’s note: The original of this post on Pagina12  from Brazil has been automatically translated to English.  

The study also warns about the environmental consequences of agribusiness.

The study also warns about the environmental consequences of agribusiness. 

Experts recommend that governments encourage peasant agriculture. A distribution problem:

They warn that peasant agriculture produces 70 percent of the world’s food in 25 percent of the land, while agribusiness, to produce 25 percent of the food, uses 75 percent of the land.

This is revealed by an investigation by the international NGO Grupo ETC, which disarms the myths of industrial and transgenic agriculture. The study ensures that if governments want to end hunger and curb climate change, they must implement public policies to boost peasant agriculture.

“Peasants are the main food providers for more than 70 percent of the world’s population, and they produce this food with less than 25 percent of the resources – water, soil, fuels -“, ​​says the research at the beginning. By contrast, the agroindustrial chain “uses 75 percent of the world’s agricultural resources, is the main source of greenhouse gas emissions and provides food to less than 30 percent of the world’s population.”

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Throughout the work, 232 citations from other researches and scientific publications are needed, which are the documentary base that gives theoretical and argumentative support to the ETC Group. In monetary data, he specifies that for every dollar that consumers pay within the agroindustrial chain, the society pays another two dollars for environmental damage and health caused by the same chain.

When it refers to the “agroindustrial chain” it is about the links that go from the inputs for the production to what is consumed in the homes: companies of vegetal and animal genetics, companies of agrotoxics, veterinary medicine, and agricultural machinery; transportation and storage, processing, packaging, bulk sale, retail sale and finally delivery to homes or restaurants.

The ETC Group’s research addresses a systemic criticism. “The bottom line is that at least 3.9 billion people suffer from hunger or malnutrition because the agro-industrial chain is too complicated, expensive and – after 70 years of validity – has proved incapable of feeding the world.”

For decades, the trite argument of companies, transgenic model scientists, journalists and officials is that the world population increases and more production is needed to feed it. The research cites dozens of scientific works that exhibit the fallacy behind the agribusiness discourse. There are already enough food for the entire population, he says, and the problem is not production, but the unfair distribution. “In a world full of food, more than half of the inhabitants can not access the food they need. The most tragic thing is that both in hard numbers and in percentages, the proportion of malnourished people is increasing, “he warns.

In relation to the environment, there are also big differences between both models. The peasant model uses only 10 percent of fossil energy and less than 20 percent of the water that total agricultural production demands, with “virtually zero devastation of soils and forests.” Meanwhile, the agroindustrial chain destroys 75,000 million tons of arable land layer annually and dismantles 7.5 million hectares of forest. It is also responsible for 90 percent consumption of fossil fuels used in agriculture.

The agro-industrial model is the main responsible for the waste of food. According to the ETC Group, of the 4,000 million tons of food that the agribusiness chain produces annually, between 33 and 50 percent is wasted along the stages of its processing or transport and storage.

Among the winners of the model are the agricultural input companies, which are also big promoters and allies of the media, universities and governments. In the seed market, business of 41,000 million dollars, only three companies (Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta) control 55 percent of the sector. The agro-industrial model is dependent on agro-toxins. Three companies (Syngenta, Basf and Bayer) control 51 percent of a 63 billion dollar market. “Since the transgenic seeds were introduced 20 years ago more than 200 acquisitions of small seed companies have occurred. And, if the corporate mega-mergers that are currently being negotiated are thriving, only three new companies will monopolize 60 percent of the commercial seed market and 71 percent of the agrotoxic market. “

The study ensures that, with the right policies, the peasant-agroecological model could triple the employment in the field, substantially reduce the pressure on cities exerted by migration, improve the nutritional quality of food and eliminate hunger.

Featured art If You Give Me a Fish by Ricardo Levins Morales  RLMArtStudio.com


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