What does SOJA mean in Argentina

What does SOJA mean in Argentina

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By Pablo Sabatino and Diego Domínguez

In the Argentine society at the end of the century, hunger has been revealed with singular crudeness and drama, something so simple and so desperate, as the lack of food. In the once "granary of the world" and current country of the "record harvest", millions of men and women are not assured of their survival.

In the once "granary of the world" and current country of the "record harvest", millions of men and women are not assured of their survival, their daily reproduction. Within this framework, and in the face of the state's apathy, actions have arisen from civil society aimed at alleviating such a serious situation. Popular dining rooms, community shopping, collective warehouses, are some of the strategies that have emerged, among which is the one that some non-governmental organizations are developing in conjunction with agricultural business institutions (SADECO, AAPRESID, La Esquina de las Flores). The elaborated proposal consisting of donating 1 per thousand of soybean production (30 thousand tons per year) to feed "one million needy."
Apparently we are facing a proposition that should be widely imitated without leaving room for criticism, all the more so in a country where more than 14 million people "are below the poverty line." Now, what is the sustainability over time of this proposal? Does it attack the causes of hunger, such as social exclusion and the concentration of wealth? These questions lead us to other questions: a proposal that, arguing social urgencies to legitimize itself, barely addresses some symptoms and not the causes of the problem, can it be rescued outside of the classical welfare system? Well, how should we receive a proposal that -intentionally or naively- does not seem to deviate in any way from the typical mechanisms of political patronage, based on gifts or gifts, to obtain legitimacy and power? Should we object and distrust initiatives like this one, which call themselves "solidarity" and "socially responsible", and aim to combat an issue such as hunger with a strategy that ends up generating more dependence on marginalized populations?

However, beyond the welfare or dependency that this solidarity campaign could produce, we take into account a much more serious problem. Soybean production in Argentina is part of a functional agricultural production model with the socioeconomic model of social exclusion that ten years of neoliberalism promoted. Wouldn't it be paradoxical to want to alleviate hunger with the products of a production model that generated this scourge?

Almost 100% of the soy produced in our country is transgenic (genetically modified to resist the agrochemical [Monsanto's round up ready] produced by the same multinational that has the property rights over the seed). Monsanto's patented seed plus the necessary inputs that this company also provides make up a technological package that makes the business profitable for large farms, eliminating small farmers, reducing labor requirements, and allocating a large part of the harvest to international markets. This productive model that expels farmers from the countryside to the city, which puts agricultural production under the total control of large economic groups (investment funds and multinationals), is the one that intends to install transgenic soy as a palliative of poverty and as a staple of the Argentine diet. The problem is not the soy itself (remarkable food), it is the model that accompanies transgenic soy that drives the implementation of the agricultural model "without farmers" in our country. Can we continue to believe that behind the "solidarity proposal" and good intentions there are no specific interests of large grain traders, and large laboratories and seed companies? Why do they seek to change consumer habits? Will they want to insert their products? Why do they adopt an image of corporate social responsibility? Do they seek legitimacy among consumers and the general population?

Because in any case we do not put on the table the inequity in the distribution of wealth, and the lack of work, and long-term solutions are proposed and not hypocritical palliative.

Just to show even more the fallacy of a proposal of the style, let us take an alternative example, just a simple one, since there must be others. According to FAO, one person (with appropriate technical assistance) can produce food for six others in 1000 square meters. Because then not give up 1.4% of the hectares cultivated with soybeans from the State or from the companies truly committed to the well-being of Argentines and hand them over to 1 million unemployed people who could thus, with training, self-generate a job for life , and also provide food for his family. Discussing these issues should be the guide to serious solidarity efforts. The basis of a responsible food security proposal should include rural settlement, the role of farmers in a society that seeks to recover social equity, the commitment of the State to those most in need. Otherwise, it is inevitable not to express a severe criticism of attempts that end up meaning the repetition of practices that Argentines want to overcome, such as opportunism, pettiness, and irresponsibility.

* By Pablo Sabatino and Diego Domínguez Members of the Rural Studies Group - UBA

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  1. Vuzshura

    the answer very entertaining

  2. Abdul-Latif

    Useful question

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