The land, in a few hands

The land, in a few hands

By Darío Aranda

Ninety percent of the world's farmers are peasant and indigenous, but they have only 25 percent of the land. Peasant agriculture produces up to 80 percent of the food in non-industrialized countries. And the concentration of land in few hands is a global phenomenon. These are some of the conclusions of the investigation Hungry for Earth, of the international organization Grain. The study processes official and academic information from the last two decades and offers an X-ray of the world situation on earth. In Argentina, in twenty years, 33 percent of the smallest farms disappeared. “It is necessary and urgent to reverse the current trend and give small farmers the means to feed the world,” the research proposes.

“Peasants feed the world with less than a quarter of agricultural land,” is the subtitle of the report by Grain, an organization that specializes in analyzing the agricultural model and the role of corporations. On the second page of the report, he confronts the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO): “He inaugurated 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming, he sang the praises of family farmers but not once did he mention the need of an agrarian reform. On the contrary, he announced that family farms already had most of the land, an incredible 70 percent. "

The Grain report claims the opposite. More than 90 percent of the world's farmers are peasant and indigenous, but they control less than a quarter of the world's agricultural land. And, with that little land, it produces most of the food. On average, the farmers' farms are only 2.2 hectares.
The work orders the information by continents. For Latin America and the Caribbean, it indicates that small farms represent 80 percent (17,894) of the total and have only 19 percent of the arable land (172,686 hectares). "Small farms are being marginalized to less land," explains the research and details that thirty countries have the greatest inequalities, where peasants represent more than 70 percent of the farms and have less than ten percent of the land. Of the thirty most unjust, six are from America: Chile, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela.
In section III the report details that peasants and indigenous people are rapidly losing farms, while large farms are growing. From Latin America, the cases of Argentina stand out, which lost more than a third of its farms between 1988 and 2008 (only between 2002 and 2008 18 percent of small farms disappeared). In Chile, between 1997 and 2007, 15 percent of the smallest farms were lost. In Colombia, between 1980 and today, peasants lost half of the land they owned. In Uruguay, in the last fourteen years, 20 percent of the farms disappeared.

Carlos Vicente, one of the report's researchers, remarked that "the loss in Argentina of 33 percent of small producers in 20 years shows how the soybean model has been predatory" and warned that "the possibility of sustaining an autonomous feeding of our people are deeply hacked. " Vicente revalued that the peasants in Argentina have 5.8 percent of the land and "continue to be the main food producers in the country."

Grain establishes a direct relationship between the loss of land by small producers and the advance of mega-mining, oil, gas, and monocultures. “The tremendous expansion of mega-farms dedicated to industrial monocultures is perhaps the most important factor behind the eviction of small farmers,” he says, detailing four monocultures in particular: sugar cane, canola (rapeseed), oil palm and soybeans. It points out that, in the last fifty years, 160 million hectares were occupied by monocultures. "More and more fertile agricultural land is occupied by large farms that produce industrial raw materials for export, pressuring small producers to an ever-decreasing share of the land," he says. And it warns that, according to the same FAO, by 2050 the world area sown with soybeans will increase by 33 percent; sugarcane, 28 percent, and canola, 16 percent.
“Very quickly we are losing farms and peasants due to the concentration of land at the hands of the rich and powerful. If we don't reverse this trend, the world will lose its ability to feed itself, ”warned Henk Hobbelink, coordinator of Grain.

Research warns that land concentration "is reaching extreme levels" and that this policy has a direct consequence on the growing number of hungry people in the world. "We urgently need to review and relaunch genuine agrarian reform and territorial reconstitution programs on a scale never seen before that return the land to peasant and indigenous hands," Grain warns.
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