Skip to main content
Read page text

Page Text

Food sovereignty emphasizes ecologically appropriate production, consumption, and distribution with socio-economic justice and more reliance on local food systems as ways to solve problems of hunger and guarantee sustainable food security for all peoples.

rice, along with a range of highly processed foods. It has also increasingly displaced native food in favour of genetically modified crops. It has made a number of developing countries increasingly rely on food imports, which has an adverse impact on the balance of payments. The availability of cheap imported food is gradually destroying local food production because the local cost of production based on small farms is relatively higher than imported subsidised food from developed countries, and this is described as ‘food dumping’. This situation has led to small farmers abandoning farming and migrating to towns as unemployed and underemployed, who often settle in slums in big cities. Moreover, poorer countries are especially threatened by conditions they have done little to cause, and could become still more dependent upon food imports from developed countries that are part of these countries’ extremely disproportionate contribution to climate change.

Food sovereignty is inherently a multidimensional concept. The only way to be food sovereign is to improve food production and distribution, which should be linked to other sectors of the economy. Food sovereignty discourses should focus on food production, but the policy should strengthen food producers and consumers and facilitate making them truly sovereign, then both will have to be supported by and incorporated into a variety of social, economic and political policies related to agriculture sector that go well beyond food itself. In short, food sovereignty requires a healthy, sustainable and diverse rural economy that goes well beyond food production.

To understand the complex socio-economic situation of the peasantry, nearly a century ago in Russia, Chayanov presented ‘theory of peasant economy’. Chayanov’s family household model in agriculture had focused on the internally generated needs and resources of the peasant family. According to him, the aim of peasant households is to meet the needs of (simple) reproduction while minimising ‘drudgery’ (of labour). His model of ‘peasant economy’ is centred on the organisation of ‘family labour’. On the other hand, the imperatives of reproduction in family labour enterprises mean that labour costs are discounted in adverse conditions, generating peasant ‘self-exploitation’. In effect, peasants tend to farm more intensively than capitalists, albeit at lower levels of labour productivity; similarly they are often constrained to buy or rent land at higher prices, and to sell their product at lower prices, than capitalist farmers are prepared to do. He assumed that the logic of peasant economy (simple reproduction) excludes the capitalist imperative of accumulation for its own sake (expanded reproduction). Increasing dependence on industrial food has reduced smallholder incomes and seems to have served to undermine the viability and livelihood of small-scale family farms in the developing countries (Bernstein, 2009).

The agricultural sector in developing countries suffers from historical legacies that favoured the industrial sector, known as ‘urban-bias’. Policymakers have contended that agriculture generates only limited backward and forward linkages and that development, therefore, necessarily means the rapid transition from rural economies to urban ones. Particular industries and urban areas were targeted for development while the farmers, especially small holders, were seen as sources of cheap labour, and the large land holders were seen as producers of raw materials and cheap food. The current agrarian crisis in rural areas has less to do with a rejection of farming per se than with a rejection of farming under the negative, insecure conditions fostered by ‘urban-bias’.

The commodity production in the full sense occurs when the product which is both a use-value and an exchange value for the buyer, is only an exchange value, just so much money, for the seller; which is determined by the market. But it leads to destruction of small farms by the corporate. The withdrawing of the state support that had prevented the destruction of small size farms by corporate capital, which will make them increasingly unviable and will further increase in farmer’s suicides. In fact, under commodity production in developing country like India, with the State not 49

Skip to main content