Future Agricultures, a DFID-funded consortium comprising the Institute of Development Studies, Imperial College London and Overseas Development Institute, has announced an on-line debate on Big farms or small farms: how to respond to the food crisis?
According to the Future Agricultures site, “Debates on the scale of farming are back on the agenda. In a number of recent articles, Professor Paul Collier, author of ‘The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can be Done About It’, made the case for encouraging large-scale commercial farming as way to get African farming moving. Favouring small farmers, he argues, is romantic but unhelpful.”
There has been a lot of news in recent months of private companies and state investment bodies buying up vast tracts of land in Africa, south-east Asia and elsewhere with a view to growing food. It is likely that much of this agricultural activity will be in the form of large-scale agriculture, rather than smallholder farming.
To kick off the debate about the merits of small and large farms, the Future Agriculture site has posted parts of Professor Collier’s article (see above), followed by a reply by Steve Wiggins of ODI.
Readers are invited to offer their views on the debate by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is an important debate, especially in light of the recent increases in food prices and arguments in favour of large-scale farming.
Join the debate, have your say.