And speaking about agribusiness…

11 Dec

According to Via Campesina, agribusiness not only has a large part to play in increasing rural poverty and flooding grocery store shelves with tasteless produce (to which we are sadly becoming more and more accustomed), it is also responsible for a large percentage of greenhouse gas emissions. Land clearing and deforestation alone account for as much as 18 %, and processing and transport between 15 and 20%. Agricultural activities are responsible for anywhere from 11 to 15% and the decomposition of organic waste (referred to in my previous post), 3 or 4%.

Small-scale farmers, especially in developing countries, do have an antidote to this: fair land distribution, security of tenure and technical advice for small family-owned farms. “Recuperating organic matter in the soil would reduce emissions by 20 to 35%,” said Henry Saragih, president of the Serikat Petani Indonesia, in Copenhagen a few days ago. “Reversing the concentration of meat production in factory farms and reintegrating joint animal and crop production would reduce them by 5 to 9%.”

If more of our food were produced and sold locally, we would not only get better quality in what we eat, but cut emissions by another 10%. And of course halting deforestation would not only cut that 18% emission rate but do incalculable good for the planet.

It is a terrible irony that among the world’s hungriest people are those who subsist on inadequate plots of land with insufficient water and no access to the kind of technical advice, inputs and investments that would help them produce more and better food. Many hundreds of thousands of them are faced with violent evictions or migration to cities that have no room or jobs for them, as agribusiness continues to absorb more and more land. That global warming does affect the rural populations in places like Africa is very real, and described in a previous post about the village of Payene, in Senegal. In the words of Saragih, “If we genuinely want to tackle the climate change crisis, the only way we have to go forward is to stop industrial agriculture.”


One Response to “And speaking about agribusiness…”


  1. From Underdogs to Watch Dogs « Global Kiosk - June 25, 2012

    […] whether we want to avoid patronizing unethical companies (see Pfizer,  Bedford Biofuels, Suncor, Cargill, etc ), or even to campaign for change.  It is also true that people might not care about such […]

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