Divers - 10 juin 2016

fr - Who will feed the planet ?

Who will feed all these people, already over 7 billion of us ? And we might add, who will feed us without ruining the planet ? There is talk of an agrarian renaissance transforming agriculture from the bottom up as the principles of agroecology become more widespread. At the same time agencies and funders continue to favour industrial agriculture ; global agribusiness is supported by the World Bank and sees small farmers and peasants as the problem ! For the benefit of whom ?
Yet small farmers produce 70% of Africa’s food, it has been shown that small farmers suffered less damage to topsoil after Hurricane Mitch in 1998 in Nicaragua. Small farmers who had preserved their seeds were able to weather the drought in China and the sea flooding in Bangladesh with drought resistant and salt tolerance varieties which had been lost in the modern hybrid varieties of mega agriculture .Small scale agroecology conserves crop diversity, resilience and food sovereignty : it regenerates the soil with biological fertilisers bringing greater productivity, a better soil adds to carbon capture and water conservation : it is good for insects and bees : food produced this way is higher nutritionally than that produced by large scale commercial agriculture. In the face of climate change small farmers need only low inputs, but are skills intensive and thus can act in job creation and preservation of local cultures. Small farmers could feed the world without destroying the environment and at the same time reduce the adverse impact of climate change.
This is in contrast to the assumption that `modernity’ and the growth of mega cities is what is wanted, this reduces jobs and destroys local cultures. Large scale commercial agriculture means land clearance, land grabbing, petroleum based fertilisers, pesticides, over use of antibiotics and hormones, export orientated agriculture, monocultures, and food processed so much of the mineral and vitamin content is lost ; it encourages GMOs and means that large corporations control labour, seeds, land and markets. For the benefit of whom ?
Let us empower small farmers, peasants and indigenous peoples, practice agroecology and challenge corporate power. Scientific research and governments should increase funding to agroecology. It would make for a happier planet and a better fed one.
For further information try for Via Campesina, an international peasant movement of about 200 million which started in 1993 and has grown ever since.
And from the UN, Sept 2015
Jessica r.a.
June 2016