World Development lead to neglect of food production, and shortages will lead to increased food prices and will adversely affect food consumption and access to food for the poor. Moreover, the increasing concentration of global corporations in both agricultural inputs and agro-food industries, marked by mergers and acquisitions, and the economic power of fewer corporations commanding larger market shares, will reduce competition. In recent decades agricultural exports has increased sharply both in terms of value and volumes, as shown in Figure 1. The developed countries namely, the US and the European Union are among the world’s top agricultural export countries (See Figure 2). Moreover, the big corporations along commodity chains have increased their control from farming through processing and manufacturing to retail distribution. Such development will further encourage specialisation in cultivation of fewer crops i.e. ‘monoculture’ and it will contribute to the loss of biodiversity.
The tendencies of capitalist agriculture, including the pace of technological change in farming with increased use of chemicals, and in its upstream and downstream industries, is driven by the accumulation strategies of agricultural input and agro-food corporations. Large-scale mechanization, which has intensified production in the name of achieving economies of scale, and keeping food prices low, is booming. Such policies will lead to a sharp fall in small-scale family farming and a rise of rural unemployment. While the manufacturing sector is either stagnant or growing very slowly, and thus, unable to provide jobs, it will lead to increased joblessness and poverty. If half of a developing country’s population was pushed out of the countryside and into the cities to rely on cheap imported food, this could have a devastating longterm impact and could further destabilise many countries. This is a central threat running through the political economy of capitalism and agriculture with implications for food sovereignty.
The challenge of regulating multinational agribusiness and international trade is important in order to ‘protect’ ‘domestic food production’ and small farmers as ‘guardians of the commons’ and to support resistance to ‘land grabbing’ for commercial food farming, and mining. There can be serious contradictions between the key features of the food sovereignty vision, such as between the goals of national and local food self-sufficiency; between promoting food crops and a farmer’s freedom to choose to what extent to farm, which crops to grow, and how to grow them; between strengthening family farming and between collective and individual rights, especially over landownership.
THE IMPORTANCE OF FOOD SELF-SUFFICIENCY A dramatic rise in food prices in 20072008 shook the world out of its complacency. There was nearly a 40% rise in the food price index relative to 9% in 2006. Wheat prices almost quadrupled and maize prices almost tripled between 2000and 2008. The adverse effects of this price rise fell on
52 The World Financial Review January - February 2021