I read a very interesting article this morning by Gustavo Duch in LaJornada (if you read Spanish, you can read it here).
He concluded the article in a way that really resonated with me, especially as I gear up for a Policies Against Hunger conference in Berlin next month and for a meeting later this week about the G8′s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition.
In the article he wrote:
We reject the fight against hunger. It has been converted into a way of feeding the agroindustries and financial speculators. We are against the hunger for profit and we are for the food sovereignty of African communities and the world.
This is a very interesting point and one I have reflected about a lot in the context of discussions around nutrition and food security.
Would like to hear your thoughts on this!
I am working on some edits for a paper I have written on the need for pastoralist-appropriate policies wherein I examine India’s dairy policy and consider some of the implications on pastoralist communities from data gathered through interviews I did this summer.
I was just reading a paper by Arun Agrawal called “I don’t need it, but you can’t have it: Politics on the Commons” which is contained in a collection of papers from Gujarat and Rajasthan. I was really intrigued by the analysis and thought I would post it here so that
- I will remember it; and,
- others can chime in as there are some clear links to current debates on land grab, etc.
In the paper, Agrawal accepts the main arguments advanced by scholars of common property but goes on to point out an oversight that permeates much of their work:
Except for some notable exceptions, these theorists ignore local politics. The community institutions they describe seem to be harmonious ideals, untouched by such human frailties as are embodied in hierarchical structures, political machinations, and jealous behaviour. In ignoring the politics inherent in the formation and functioning of all institutions that allocate resources, and in championing the cause of community institutions, common property theorists have fallen prey to the same mistake committed by early neo-institutional writers… These early writers argued that more efficient (read private) property rights will come about as the value of a resource increases. They thus ignored the role of politics in creating institutions as well as in deterring the creation of new institutions. Many theorists of the commons similarly valorise the “little community” to the point wherein seems that life in these communities is untouched by political manoeuvres; that local populations know best; and that there would be no victims if only the state stopped intervening into local contexts. Such a view simplifies the complexity of interactions among different groups at the local level. By implication it pots the state against the local community, investing the state with a monolithic rationality, intentionality and structure. Worse, it sees the actions of local resource users as occurring primarily in reaction to external influences.
There is a new issue of Rural 21 out on food losses.
“Roughly one third of the food produced globally for human consumption is lost or wasted – 1.3 billion tons per year. Even if these estimates are subject to numerous uncertainties, one thing is beyond doubt: every kilogramme of food that is produced but not consumed is one too many. For it embodies valuable, wasted resources such as land, water, agricultural inputs and energy, unnecessary CO2 emissions have been released into the atmosphere, farmers have lost not only income but also a valuable part of their nutrition, and consumers pay the increased prices that result.
Our authors analyse the dimensions of these losses and the underlying complex web of causes and show how approaches have to be designed against the background of global challenges such as climate change and food security.”
New article out by Tim Wise on the Triple Crises Blog outlining new links between food, fuel and finance.
A very worthy read. Here is just a snippet:
Just when you thought the unhealthy ties between food, fuel, and financial markets couldn’t get more perverse, we get the announcement that Vitol, the world’s largest independent oil trader, is entering the grain-trading business, hiring a team from Viterra, based in Toronto, to run the show. And lest we toss this off as just another corporate deal, Javier Blas in the Financial Times reminds us that Viterra has itself recently been bought by Glencore, perhaps the world’s greatest global commodity speculator.
The G8 countries are implementing a New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in six African countries that will facilitate the transfer of control over African agriculture from peasants to foreign agribusiness.
Cooperation Frameworks agreed with Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique and Tanzania commit each government to implementing a set of policies within clearly defined deadlines.
But few of these policy commitments are found in the plans that these countries developed through national consultations. While the national plans are extensive documents covering a wide range of issues, the frameworks zero in on only a small number of measures almost exclusively aimed at increasing corporate investment in agricultural lands and input markets.
Read the new report from GRAIN here: http://www.grain.org/e/4663
The Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development , the only international, peer-reviewed journal focused on the emerging field of food and agriculture–based community development, has a call for papers on Cooperatives and Alternative Food Systems Initiatives
Cooperatives have historically been, and still are, important institutions in the global economic landscape, and have strong roots in food and agriculture. Conventional agriculture cooperatives work to increase the marketing power of farmers by pooling their products to achieve economies of scale. Traditional consumer cooperatives focus on increasing buying power to meet member needs. Recently there has been a surge in cooperative alternative food systems initiatives in the form of cooperative food hubs, cooperative local food networks, cooperative farmers’ markets and box schemes, worker‐owned food cooperatives, cooperative value chains, and cooperative food buying clubs. These initiatives represent new forms of collective engagement of consumers, producers and other actors as “food citizens” within “civic food networks,” the social/solidarity economy, and a “civic agriculture.” Cooperative food systems initiatives are differentiated from conventional cooperatives in that they:
- reconnect farmers and consumers in more direct and meaningful ways;
- sell to local and regional markets and through alternative networks such as CSAs, farm‐to‐school programs, farmers’ markets; or
- promote food production, distribution, and consumption processes that are environmentally sound or socially just.
They are organized by farmers (such as producer co‐ops or farmer groups), by consumers (such as buying clubs or consumer cooperatives), by both (multistakeholder co‐ops), or by workers and through cooperation to pursue social, economic, and political ends that are challenging to realize as individuals.
I know, I know, I haven’t posted in AGES! I have been so busy with other food and non-food related projects and have had little spare time to blog-on about food governance and the likes. Well, that is about to change as I really need some way to stay motivated through the thesis writing stage… So, to kick start this new blogging year, I am sharing a link to the Journal of Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems that has just published a special issue “Agroecology and the Transformation of Agri-Food Systems: Transdisciplinary and Participatory Perspectives.” It is free to access online! http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/wjsa21/37/1.
This special issue is devoted to defining the focus of agroecology, and pointing out ways that it must lead the way in transforming food systems to sustainability, from the seed and the soil, all the way to the table. Guest editors V. Ernesto Méndez, Christopher Bacon, and Rose Cohen bring together the transdisciplinary perspectives that have helped form our understanding of agroecology, how it promotes change through participatory action in research and education, and why it is important that agroecology lead the way in bringing sustainability to all people and all parts of our global food system.
The Global Donor Platform for Rural Development is a network of 34 bilateral and multilateral donors, international financing institutions, intergovernmental organisations and development agencies.
Members share a common vision that agriculture and rural development is central to poverty reduction, and a conviction that sustainable and efficient development requires a coordinated global approach.
Following years of relative decline in public investment in the sector, the Platform was created in 2003 to increase and improve the quality of development assistance in agriculture, rural development and food security.
The Platform has been posting a series of virtual briefs and interviews that are likely to be of interest to readers of this blog.
Their latest interview links to cooperatives and food security.
In the interview, Elisabeth Atangana, the FAO’s Special Ambassador for Cooperatives, discusses the importance of cooperatives for food security.
It’s been a busy 2.5 days. I hope to get some CFS updates typed up in the next few hours but for now I am in a side event on Implementing the AU Declaration on Land.
Who’s behind the land grabs? A look at some of the people pursuing or supporting large farmland grabs around the world (From GRAIN).
Every day there are new stories of companies buying up farmlands. Malaysian palm oil giants buying up lands for plantations in West Africa. Wall Street bankers taking over cattle ranches in Brazil. Saudi businessmen signing land deals in the Philippines. The result is that a small number of people are taking over more and more of the world’s farmlands, and the water that goes with it, leaving everyone else with less, or none at all. As the world plunges deeper into a food crisis, these new farmland lords will hold sway over who gets to eat and who doesn’t and who profits and who perishes within the food system. To help pull back the curtain on the land grabbers, GRAIN has pieced together a slide show that tells a little about some of those who have been most actively pursuing or supporting farmland grabs.
The slide show and a text version can be viewed or downloaded here: http://www.grain.org/e/4576