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View Diary: Another Revolution in Agriculture Underway? (87 comments)

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  •  commercial enterprise (0+ / 0-)

    So as a small commercial enterprise owned by a poor farmer, increasing his yield by organic methods rather than by chemical inputs and patented seed would seem a good thing to me.

    Does he have a support program paying him not to grow rice?  How else will he support his family?  As you say, it's difficult to predict the future but for this farmer, right now, he is improving life for himself and his family.  While in other parts of India, farmers are committing suicide over the failures of GM crops.

    •  Your are correct on a micro level (0+ / 0-)

      Of course, if he can grow more rice without buying expensive chemical inputs, he will be better off.

      But if you read studies based on rural third world household "budgets" their biggest constraint tends to be labor ("there aren't enough hours in the day"). I'm just pointing out that people who already work 80-100 hours a week might not trade yet more hours weeding (because they aren't flooding the paddy fields) for increased yield. This new technique probably requires the hiring of agricultural workers. That's actually a very, very good thing given that the poorest of the poor are landless agricultural workers. But it isn't clear that they would make that choice.

      The other problem is that although an increase in yield is great for the farmer the first year he alone introduces it, new techniques tend to increase collective yield, which means more output and lower prices.

      I read a study about the green revolution in the Philippines a long time ago. Most farmers felt they were better off and upgraded their houses, but their complaints were (1) they had to work a lot harder and put in more hours and (2) after others adopted their new techniques there was a glut of rice and prices fell and they were back where they started in terms of individual income. They were growing much more rice with much more work and earning the same "salary".

      The study's conclusion was that the green revolution was great for the Philippines as a collective society because there was more and cheaper food. But for the farmers all it meant was growing more rice with more work for the same income. The study concluded that the farmers were the "heroes and victims" of the green revolution.

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