Want To Double World Food Production? Return The Land To Small Farmers… – Eco Snippets

Want To Double World Food Production? Return The Land To Small Farmers…

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Want To Double World Food Production? Return The Land To Small Farmers...

All over the world, small farmers are being forced off their land to make way for corporate agriculture, writes GRAIN – and it’s justified by the need to ‘feed the world’. But it’s the small farmers that are the most productive, and the more their land is grabbed, the more global hunger increases. We must give them their land back!

The data show that the concentration of farmland in fewer and fewer hands is directly related to the increasing number of people going hungry every day.

The United Nations declared 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming. As part of the celebrations, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) released its annual ‘State of Food and Agriculture‘, which this year is dedicated to family farming. Family farmers, FAO say, manage 70-80% of the world’s farmland and produce 80% of the world’s food.

But on the ground – whether in Kenya, Brazil, China or Spain – rural people are being marginalised and threatened, displaced, beaten and even killed by a variety of powerful actors who want their land.

A recent comprehensive survey by GRAIN, examining data from around the world, finds that while small farmers feed the world, they are doing so with just 24% of the world’s farmland – or 17% if you leave out China and India. GRAIN’s report also shows that this meagre share is shrinking fast.

How, then, can FAO claim that family farms occupy 70 to 80% of the world’s farmland? In the same report, FAO claims that only 1% of all farms in the world are larger than 50 hectares, and that these few farms control 65% of the world’s farmland, a figure much more in line with GRAIN’s findings.

Just what is a ‘family farm’…

The confusion stems from the way FAO deal with the concept of family farming, which they roughly define as any farm managed by an individual or a household. (They admit there is no precise definition. Various countries, like Mali, have their own.)

Thus, a huge industrial soya bean farm in rural Argentina, whose family owners live in Buenos Aires, is included in FAO’s count of ‘family farms’.

What about sprawling Hacienda Luisita, owned by the powerful Cojuanco family in the Philippines and epicentre of the country’s battle for agrarian reform since decades. Is that a family farm?

Looking at ownership to determine what is and is not a family farm masks all the inequities, injustices and struggles that peasants and other small scale food producers across the world are mired in.

It allows FAO to paint a rosy picture and conveniently ignore perhaps the most crucial factor affecting the capacity of small farmers to produce food: lack of access to land. Instead, the FAO focuses its message on how family farmers should innovate and be more productive.

Small farmers are ever more squeezed in…

Small food producers’ access to land is shrinking due a range of forces. One is that because of population pressure, farms are getting divided up amongst family members. Another is the vertiginous expansion of monoculture plantations.

In the last 50 years, a staggering 140 million hectares – the size of almost all the farmland in India – has been taken over by four industrial crops: soya bean, oil palm, rapeseed and sugar cane. And this trend is accelerating.

In the next few decades, experts predict that the global area planted to oil palm will double, while the soybean area will grow by a third. These crops don’t feed people. They are grown to feed the agro-industrial complex.

Other pressures pushing small food producers off their land include the runaway plague of large-scale land grabs by corporate interests. In the last few years alone, according to the World Bank, some 60 million hectares of fertile farmland have been leased, on a long-term basis, to foreign investors and local elites, mostly in the global South.

While some of this is for energy production, a big part of it is to produce food commodities for the global market, instead of family farming.

Small is beautiful – and productive…

The paradox, however, and one of the reasons why despite having so little land, small producers are feeding the planet, is that small farms are often more productive than large ones.

If the yields achieved by Kenya’s small farmers were matched by the country’s large-scale operations, the country’s agricultural output would double. In Central America, the region’s food production would triple. If Russia’s big farms were as productive as its small ones, output would increase by a factor of six.

Another reason why small farms are the feeding the planet is because they prioritise food production. They tend to focus on local and national markets and their own families. In fact, much of what they produce doesn’t enter into trade statistics – but it does reach those who need it most: the rural and urban poor.

If the current processes of land concentration continue, then no matter how hard-working, efficient and productive they are, small farmers will simply not be able to carry on.

The data show that the concentration of farmland in fewer and fewer hands is directly related to the increasing number of people going hungry every day.

According to one UN study, active policies supporting small producers and agro-ecological farming methods could double global food production in a decade and enable small farmers to continue to produce and utilise biodiversity, maintain ecosystems and local economies, while multiplying and strengthening meaningful work opportunities and social cohesion in rural areas.

Agrarian reforms can and should be the springboard to moving in this direction.

To double global food production, we must support the small farmers…

Experts and development agencies are constantly saying that we need to double food production in the coming decades. To achieve that, they usually recommend a combination of trade and investment liberalisation plus new technologies.

But this will only empower corporate interests and create more inequality. The real solution is to turn control and resources over to small producers themselves and enact agricultural policies to support them.

The message is clear. We need to urgently put land back in the hands of small farmers and make the struggle for genuine and comprehensive agrarian reform central to the fight for better food systems worldwide. FAO’s lip service to family farming just confuses the matter and avoids putting the real issues on the table (via TheEcologist).

If you like this idea, be sure to share it with your friends and inspire someone you know. Anything becomes possible with just a little inspiration…

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(56) comments

PROBABNLY THE PROPERTY AND SCHOOL TAXES ARE KILLING THEM.

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PROBABNLY THE PROPERTY AND SCHOOL TAXES ARE KILLING THEM.

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We do not need to double the world’s food production. With one third of current production going to landfill we need to learn how we distribute what we have got. It is greed driving the desire for more.

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    the only way that will happen is to return to small farms who provide locally and therefore lose less waste. You are saying the same thing. Its just that the big business producers would rather throw produce away when it cant be sold at the prices they have set than to see it being used. The world is upside down with its values. A community farmer brings it back home for us to take care of each other within a community.

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80% of it is already run by family farms.
We need to use less land for more produce, not the other way round.
Industrial farming needs to work alongside traditional farming.
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-foundation-food-farming-idUSKCN0I516220141016

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    Now that comment makes more sense than taking someone elses land and giving to people to farm.

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Russia has had an official policy for the last decade or so of giving small plots of land to citizens for the purpose of sustainable farming. Good ecology and good planning in case of war — wouldn’t you say? A nation feeding itself makes them much less vulnerable.

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    That’s great, they can go to Russia with you.

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Why don’t the people that want be a small farmer, buy the land???? Is Ecosnippets a Communist group???

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    Because in most places when you buy the land you have to comply with zoning and building codes if you want to live on farm land. And in most residential areas they have regulations against farming. Gardens sime places yes, farming, no. Have you priced farm land?

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    &My dear Melanie, yes I have owned small farms. You sound like a New Yorker or a millennial. Your comment is totally incorrect! You do not buy small parcels of farmland in cities where you have zoning and building considerations. You buy farmland in the country where there is no zoning. Please don’t waste my time educating you about such things. You should actually know what you are talking about before replying to peoples comments.

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    Andrew I think you are missing the point of the article. Internationally, in numerous cases, land is extorted or effectively stolen. Many people in poorer countries are being driven off their ancestral farming lands. In other cases, the families are forced to sell in times of drought or family crisis. In too many cases, the aquisition of land has been far from fair. Much international aid/support is skewed to incentivise these undesirable outcomes by favouring supposedly more efficient and modern farming methods and structures. Unfortunately their reasoning is faulty.

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    You missed my point, I am talking about small farms in the United States only! I cannot speak to the needs of other countries.

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Exactly our program from Mama Earth Foundation

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Russia worked this out a few years ago, started giving away blocks of land for free as long as they were worked as an organic farm for at least 5 years. unfortunately it was only open for citizens. However just about every country around the world could do it.

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Not only small farmers but small victory gardens in every yard. During WW II growing your own food was popular. We can do better than Russia if we only got off our asses and put our money and time into something practical like safe food.

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So….you just want to take this land from others who have paid for it?

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    In numerous cases, the land is extorted or effectively stolen. Many people in poorer countries are being driven off their ancestral farming lands. In other cases, the families are forced to sell in times of drought or family crisis. In too many cases, the aquisition of land has been far from fair. Much international aid/support is skewed to incentivise these undesirable outcomes by favouring supposedly more efficient and modern farming methods and structures. Unfortunately their reasoning is faulty.

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    Tamsin Kelly what country?

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The Macro is only as good as the Micro, #Sustainability

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Partly. Local fresh food works with this. One of my favorite suggestions was teaching gardening and vegetable growing in grade school+.

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Russia just handed out a lot of 5acre plots to citizens to set up organic farms, fairly good land as well, work the land successfully for a few years, the land is yours. This is how you do a part of security everyones forgotten.. food security.

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You have to find some one with ambition.

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Wonderful Idea though. I just came from Nebraska and all our vegtables came from their back gardens.

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Most of the land is already in the hand of small scale farmers

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With so much food being wasted, why in the hell would we need to double food production!?

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BUT HOW CAN YOU CONTROL THE LIVES OF BILLIONS THAT WAY ? WE WANT THEM DEAD NOT THRIVING YOU STUPID PEOPLE “IT’S THE END TIMES !” NOT TIMES OF PLENTY ,, SATAN MONSANTO HIS CHILD IS IN POWER NOT YOU LITTLE PEOPLE !!

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Great idea but not paid for our work middle men too much power and profit margins

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    Have you read Joel Salatin? His model of small scale farming may offer alternatives?

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    No I am farming when inputs are higher than outputs simple as that just go to supermarkets see what your charged than see what the producer is getting very hard to cut the middle man out in volumes you need them or shelves be empty

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This isn’t true at all . It’s obvious big business can produce a better return per acre then small farms . That’s why big business are million dollar companies and small family farms go bust as soon as the wind changes

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    Yet it is these mega farms that are causing our soils to have problems. They are adding lots of fertilizer but no micro nutrients so essentially the soil is dead.

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    Dawn Singleton LoL are you serious ? So small farms go out and add “micro nutrients” ??? ok I’m sure they do

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    Cris Ward – crop rotation & no-till farming does exactly that

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    i get worried when i read some indoctrinated b.s from someone who doesnt understand how to build soil or fertility that will outlast each generation, and improve the soil constantly. Instead i see farmers who plan to “subdevide the land when the city expands out here and make millions”. Artifical ferterlizers are a “temp” fix, using commercial weed control sprays kills your soils fertility, constant chopping up of the soil and deep plowing messes it up as well, breaks u pthe fungi net , mono cropping on top of that causes even more damage and increases in specifc thrats to that species (insect, fungi, bacteria, and plant virus’s) which can spread fast – i have seen whole feilds affected in days and lost, espeically with resistant moulds. Land just doesnt work the way its manipulated. You need some sort of forested area for “mining” of nutrieits to bring up to the top soil (which is either mulched or biochar to build the soil) you need crushed whole stone, like granite which has like 80-90 trace elements in it, added to the working soil every 10-25 years, a fungi net which supports bacteria which benefits the plant growth, moves nutrients and moisture amoungst them- it requres not chopping the soil up and you need to mix up your plant life in such a way the crops control the weed regrowth , the food plants become the self seeding “weeds”. (it becomes the basis for wild gardening) native poeple have “wild gardened some sites for centuries, without loss of soil fertility, these methods can even make salt damage soil usable again, making the salt inert (rather than methods of either forcing salt to rise into raised soil then removal, or washing the salt out of the soil to deeper levels, which creates more long term problems). Whats even more stupid, is how humans BUILD houses on the most fertile land, which become concrete cities. Humans are insane.

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    Leigh Sunders great rant but that’s all it is . No real farms are subdivided for housing . As for your knowledge on farming well I can see your not a farmer . Just look at Israel or any Arab country . All you realy need is water to make a farm productive .

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    Dawn Singleton rubbish

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    Cris Ward and the skills of course

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    Samantha Day Peterson Yes, and large scale industrial farming does both of these because it is the most cost effective method of maintaining soil health and crop yields.

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    Cris Ward Um…you obviously know nothing about Southwestern Ontario, Canada because subdividing rich farmland to build housing is EXACTLY what is going on and out of control. Why you may ask? Because a large amount of some of the richest farmland in the world is within an hours drive of Toronto. The lost farms have great soil, water & fairly good climate patterns – but we pay farmers a pittance for their hard work then complain about the price of food, complain about the smell, noise and traffic disruptions that come from living near a farm. (Trust me, I live in a rural farming community in this area & I often get caught driving slow behind farm equipment.) So when someone comes along and offers you a pile of money for your land – enough to move somewhere else and set up a new farm or retire – I can’t blame them for taking it.

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    Karrilyn McPhee if they were decent farms they wouldn’t be sold for a pittance and turned into houseing . It’s just small ma and pa farms that have struggled to pay the mortgage that turn into housing .

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Please define ” small farmer. Are you suggesting that ” vertically challenged ” farmers are more productive than ” full sized ” ones.

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Tristan Elliott

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We have a small commercial farm in our neighbourhood. Amazing how much produce they produce.

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