Jun 162010

Excerpt from Small Scale Sustainable Farmers Are Cooling Down The Earth, 2009

By The Via Campesina

Image from Indrustrial Agrofules: Fuel Hunger and Poverty by The Via Campesina

Industrialized countries and the industrialization of agriculture are the biggest sources of global warming gases, but it is farmers and rural communities –and especially small farmers and rural communities in developing countries –that are among the  first to suffer from climate change. Changing weather patterns bring unknown pest along with unusual droughts, floods and storms, destroying crops, farmlands, farmstock and farmers houses. Moreover, plants, animal species and marine life are threatened or disappearing at an unprecedented pace due to the combined effects of warming and industrial exploitation. Life at large is endangered by the decreasing availability of fresh water resources.

Destruction caused by global warming goes beyond the physical. Changing, unpredictable weather means that local knowledge, which has been the basis for good agricultural management and adjusting to climate condition, is becoming less relevant, making farmers more vulnerable and dependent on external inputs and techniques.

Farmers have to adjust to these changes by adapting their seeds and usual production systems to an unpredictable situation. Droughts and floods are leading to crop failures, increasing the number of people going hungry in the world. Studies predict a decline in global farm output of 3 to 16% by 2080. In tropical regions, global warming is likely to lead to a serious decline in agriculture (up to 50% in Senegal and 40% in India) and to the acceleration of farmland turning into desert. On the other hand, huge areas in Russia and Canada will turn into crop land for the first time in human history, yet it is still unknown how these regions will be able to grow crops.

What is expected is that millions of farmers will be displaced from the land. Such shifting is regarded by industry as a business opportunity through increasing food exports and imports, but it will only increase hunger and dependency around the world. Corporate food production and consumption are significantly contributing to global warming and to the destruction of rural communities. Intercontinental food transport, intensive monoculture production, land and forest destruction and the use of chemical inputs in agriculture are transforming agriculture into an energy consumer and are contributing to climate change. Under neo-liberalpolicies imposed by the World Trade Organisation, the regional and bilateral Free Trade Agreements, as well as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, food is produced with oil-based pesticides and fertilizers and transported all around the world for transformation and consumption.

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