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Things that would be hilarious if they weren’t tragic

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This probably isn’t where we’d start when looking for advice on how to run global farming:Elizabeth Mpofu a member of Zimbabwe Smallholder Organic Farmers’ Forum (Zimsoff)The reason being that Zimbabwean farming has not exactly covered itself with glory in recent decades:The main reason is that organisers have given agribusiness a lead role in the process and largely ignored the social movements and small farmers’ organisations around the world that produce a third of all food. As a result, the summit will unavoidably push for an industrialised and corporate-driven food system, undermining the future of the millions of small-scale farmers, fishers, herders, food vendors and processors across the world.In contrast, small farmers’ movements such as La Via Campesina and its allies are

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This probably isn’t where we’d start when looking for advice on how to run global farming:

Elizabeth Mpofu a member of Zimbabwe Smallholder Organic Farmers’ Forum (Zimsoff)

The reason being that Zimbabwean farming has not exactly covered itself with glory in recent decades:

The main reason is that organisers have given agribusiness a lead role in the process and largely ignored the social movements and small farmers’ organisations around the world that produce a third of all food. As a result, the summit will unavoidably push for an industrialised and corporate-driven food system, undermining the future of the millions of small-scale farmers, fishers, herders, food vendors and processors across the world.

In contrast, small farmers’ movements such as La Via Campesina and its allies are presenting a very different future. La Via Campesina launched its vision of “food sovereignty” 25 years ago, at the 1996 world food summit. Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through sustainable methods and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. It is based on a model of small-scale sustainable production benefiting communities and the environment. Food sovereignty prioritises local food production and consumption, giving a country the right to protect its producers from cheap imports and to control its production.

The why Zimbabwe declined from the breadbasket of Africa into a wasteland of malnutrition being that large scale corporate agriculture was dismantled in favour of small scale production.

Yes, we’re entirely aware of the colonial legacy, the racial issues, but in terms of economic structures that is what happened - the dismantling of corporate agriculture.

Doing this again in more places just doesn’t sound like a good idea.

All of this before what we regard as the insuperable obstacle to such small scale and local farming. It’s peasant farming and the problem with that is that for peasant farming to exist the farmers have to be peasants. If farming is to be done in two and three acre plots then the incomes of those farms will, by definition, be limited by the value that can be created from two and three acre plots. Say, in the region of $800 to $1,000 a year, tops.

Insisting that billions of darker people, far away, continue to live the sort of lives that would shame a medieval villein just doesn’t coincide with what we consider to be a desirable future for the human race.

The grand glory of large scale, corporate, agriculture is that it destroys the need for anyone to live as a medieval peasant. We all glory in the fact that none of us paler folks have to do that any more so quite why anyone campaigns to impose it upon those duskier rather escapes us. Perhaps this is part of that white supremacy and privilege we hear so much about these days?

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Tim Worstall
Tim Worstall is a British-born writer and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. Worstall is a regular contributor to Forbes and the Register. He has also written for the Guardian, the New York Times, PandoDaily, the Daily Telegraph blogs, the Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2010 his blog was listed as one of the top 100 UK political blogs by Total Politics.

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