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If there is nobody left knowing how to cultivate them, there is going to be a problem...

I pointed this out the other day in Bruce McF's latest Arc of the Sun diary. And that current prices might persuade peasant farmers to stay on the land - though we have to stop bringing world prices down with our subsidised exports (we = EU & US).

OTOH, we shouldn't give up farming. There's a free-trade notion that says we don't need agriculture any more (like we didn't need industry?), and we should just import from the cheapest bidder (comparative advantage). Which, practically, means buying from Cairns Group and emerging agri-countries that run wide-scale production of dubious sustainability. And (Doha Round) from plantation-type farming that should be encouraged (invested in by capitalists) in poorer countries, where lucky peasant farmers will be able to get wage-slave jobs and we will be told they have been raised out of poverty.

My view is we should aim at self-sufficiency, as far as possible, for all. Free-traders' schemes take no account of ecology or of human society, do not cost these into their utilitarian calculations, forget past agronomic experience of virgin deforested soils exhausted by colonial cropping (North American forest, C17 - C19?). Rather than go for plantation monocultures, we should encourage sustainable, smart small farming providing basic food plus cash crops for sale on regional and national markets. Food will be more expensive? Good. Then it will pay farmers to stay on the land, it will maintain and enrich social structures that are otherwise doomed by uprooting and flight to the cities.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Apr 18th, 2008 at 09:58:40 AM EST

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