World Development sold on US and European markets (Siddiqui, 1998). Several decades later, studies found that such policies did not benefit the local population, fewer jobs were created due to increased mechanisation, and a high level of use of fertilizers and pesticides has brought ecological and environmental problems to the region. Thus, the agrarian model pursued by the developed countries is capital-intensive and laboursaving, and is based on excessive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides and average farm size is much larger than the developing countries. Such agrarian solutions are not viable and suitable for the developing countries.
THE DEBATE In recent years in some developing countries, foreign companies have bought land and displaced local farmers to increase agricultural output. In the past, commercial farming has often opted for policies which were environmentally destructive and policies that undermined local farmers but largely benefited multinational agribusiness. This shows the rise of a global ‘corporate industrialised agriculture’, and indicates a ‘changing relationship to food imposed by the ‘industrialization of agricultural production and the globalization of agricultural trade’, resulting in ‘food insecurity, fossil-fuel dependence and global warming’.
The International Forum on ‘Food Sovereignty’ in 2007 in Mali was a very important policy discussion on food sovereignty. The conference was represented by 500 academics and farmer leaders from 80 countries that discussed future polices and strategies to provide directions for farmer movements for the importance of food sovereignty and how to strengthen it. The Declaration of Nyéléni in Mali (2007) encapsulates the vision of the conference: “Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to appropriate food produced through ecologically and sustainable methods. It puts those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations”.
Food sovereignty emphasizes ecologically appropriate production, consumption, and distribution with socio-economic justice and more reliance to local food systems as ways to solve problems of hunger and guarantee sustainable food security for all peoples. It empowers local community control of productive resources; argues for agrarian reform and tenure security for small farmers; promotes biodiversity; and respects the local knowledge of indigenous peoples in developing countries.
Increasing dependence on industrial food has reduced smallholder incomes in local markets, and seems to have served to undermine the viability and livelihood of small-scale farms. Such development has led to increased food import dependency and has also increased the consumption of unhealthy diets, such as fewer varieties of wheat, maize and
Farmers shout slogans during their ‘Delhi Chalo’ protest march against the Centre’s new farm laws, at Singhu border on December 2, 2020 in New Delhi, India. (Sonu Mehta | Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
48 The World Financial Review January - February 2021