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Tropentag, September 14 - 16, 2022, Prague

"Can agroecological farming feed the world? Farmers' and academia's views."

Decentralised collective smallholder economics could feed the world better

Fengzhan Geng, Andreas Buerkert

University of Kassel, Organic Plant Production and Agroecosyst. Res. in the Tropics and Subtropics, Germany


In the beginning of 21 century, global agriculture was overproduction. But why African starving and urban slums are still happening now. we try to analysis the reason from three dimensions. 1, social dimension. First, Multinational corporations monopolise large farms, owning substantial subsidies from their nations, and profit from crisis, but smallholders have not price advantages and face bankruptcy. Large-scale farms sparked urban slums and landless farmers movement, but the majority are small property owners in rural areas, which would expand employment and provide food, acting as social stabiliser, especially during economic crisis. Second, smallholders grow 35% of the world food on 12% of arable land. It is impossible to feed the world using large-scale farming. Third, global diet become the same in the world and threat to national food security, which make farmers focus on cash crops and shift main grain production from export to import. 2, economic dimension. It is a fake that food is enough to feed. Off-farm income feed the world, not food. Food is only a commodity, not livelihood. First, In any countries, agriculture can not produce more additional income from production. The profit are from finance, government subsidy, real estate and some other industries. Individual smallholders can not gain profit, but the collective economic organisation can. Second, under climate change and petrol crisis, small-scale ecological agriculture show a higher resistance than specialised large-scale farming. Third, 90% large-scale farms need subsides in North America. For the land productivity, farm size have a inverse relationship with it because high labour input substitute capital input. But for labour productivity, large-scale farms are higher than small-scale farms because of mechanisation. For populous countries, small-scale farms are profitable. 3, ecological dimension. Date back to 1960, international society realised that industrialised large-scaled farming contains huge external costs, such as land degradation, air and water pollution, energy costs, biodiversity loss and healthy costs. Decentralisation on ecological farming should also be focused. In conclusion, it is a false Propositions that food is not enough to feed the world. Food system transition should focus on collective smallholder economics and decentralisation on ecological farming.

Keywords: Collective smallholder economics, decentralisation, land function, landless farmers movement, urban slum

Contact Address: Fengzhan Geng, University of Kassel, Organic Plant Production and Agroecosyst. Res. in the Tropics and Subtropics, Steinstrasse 19, 37213 Witzenhausen, Germany, e-mail: fengzhan1991@163.com

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