In 1885 W. W. Hunter, Director‐General of Statistics in India, sent out a circular to all district officers enquiring about rural migration, land reclamation, and the ways in which government or private capitalists could aid reclamation schemes. The present article is based upon the replies which Hunter received. These contain much valuable information: on deserted villages, seasonal migration, the role of forest tribes as the vanguard of land reclamation, scarcity of labour as an obstacle to land reclamation in some areas in contrast with large‐scale coolie emigration from other areas, the limited ability of government to provide aid and guidance to land reclamation schemes, and some instances of successful capitalist ventures in this field. It is suggested that this information may be seen in the light of the methodological discussion on the definition of peasantry on the one hand and Boserup's theory relating demographic features and systems of agricultural production on the other (the latter being of particular importance since it leads to an appreciation of the regional setting of the peasantry process). The relationship between the state and the peasantry is also touched upon.
Changes in globalised agriculture raise critical questions as rapid agricultural development leads to widespread social and environmental transformation. With increased global demand for vegetable oils and biofuel, in Indonesia the area under oil palm has doubled over the last decade. This paper presents a case study of how micro-processes that are linked to wider dynamics shape oil palm related agrarian change in villages in Sumatra, Indonesia. It pursues related questions regarding the impact of agribusiness-driven agriculture, the fate of smallholders experiencing contemporary agrarian transition, and the impact of increased demand for vegetable oils and biofuels on agrarian structures in Sumatra. It argues that the paths of agrarian change are highly uneven and depend on how changing livelihood strategies are enabled or constrained by economic, social and political relations that vary over time and space. In contrast to simplifying narratives of inclusion/exclusion, it argues that outcomes depend on the terms under which smallholders engage with oil palm. Distinguishing between exogenous processes of agribusiness expansion and endogenous commodity market expansion, it finds each is associated with characteristic processes of change. It concludes that the way successive policy interventions have worked with the specific characteristics of oil palm have cumulatively shaped the space where agrarian change occurs in Sumatra.
This paper asks how investment in large-scale sugar cane production has contributed, and will contribute, to rural development in southern Africa. Taking a case study of the South African company Illovo in Zambia, the argument is made that the potential for greater tax revenue, domestic competition, access to resources and wealth distribution from sugar/ethanol production have all been perverted and with relatively little payoff in wage labour opportunities in return. If the benefits of agro-exports cannot be so easily assumed, then the prospective 'balance sheet' of biofuels needs to be re-examined. In this light, the paper advocates smaller-scale agrarian initiatives.
Corn ethanol production is central in the United States' agrofuels initiatives. In this paper I discuss corn ethanol production in Iowa, USA and examine several dynamics: farmers' positions in agrofuel supply chains; struggles around the construction and operation of agrofuel refineries; the politics of ethanol production and regulation; and the ecological consequences of increased corn production. I argue that current US agrofuels production and politics reinforce longstanding and unequal political economic relationships in industrial agriculture. I also argue that the politics of US agrofuels, focused on carbon accounting for greenhouse gas reduction and energy security, privilege urban and other actors' social and ecological interests over those of rural places of production.
In response to Albritton , who asserts that the central dynamic of capitalism's genesis was putting-out manufacturing, I provide a sketch of the processes of agrarian capitalism. The elaboration of the common law in the Middle Ages enabled widespread conversion to leaseholds after the plague. An increasingly privatized system of land ownership resulted from the enclosure movement in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and the upheavals of the seventeenth century represented the triumph of the enclosers. The rise of cottage industry in the eighteenth century was supported by a systematic effort at improving agricultural productivity. By the Industrial Revolution, the principle of individual control over production had long been established.
Reasons for the relative failure of agricultural development in India during the colonial period are analyzed, and the effects of the scarcity of capital, the absence of suitable technology, and the growth of the population are assessed. "The article explores the manner in which peasant possession of land and other means of subsistence limited productive utilisation of capital and technology, triggered a certain demographic regime and, in turn, disrupted further developmental possibilities." The geographical focus is on the area coinciding with the modern states of Maharashtra and Gujarat.
The status of international agricultural research as a global public good (GPG) has been widely accepted since the Green Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. While the term was not used at the time of its creation, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) system that evolved at that time has been described as a 'prime example of the promise, performance and perils of an international approach to providing GPGs'. Contemporary literature on international agricultural research as a GPG tends to support this view and focuses on how to operationalize the concept. This paper adopts a different starting point and questions this conceptualization of the CGIAR and its outputs. It questions the appropriateness of such a 'neutral' concept to a system born of the imperatives of Cold War geopolitics, and shaped by a history of attempts to secure its relevance in a changing world. This paper draws on a multi-sited, ethnographic study of a research effort highlighted by the CGIAR as an exemplar of GPG-oriented research. Behind the ubiquitous language of GPGs, 'partnership' and 'consensus', however, new forms of exclusion and restriction are emerging within everyday practice, reproducing North-South inequalities and undermining the ability of these programmes to respond to the needs of projected beneficiaries.
Agroecology has played a key role in helping Cuba survive the crisis caused by the collapse of the socialist bloc in Europe and the tightening of the US trade embargo. Cuban peasants have been able to boost food production without scarce and expensive imported agricultural chemicals by first substituting more ecological inputs for the no longer available imports, and then by making a transition to more agroecologically integrated and diverse farming systems. This was possible not so much because appropriate alternatives were made available, but rather because of the Campesino-a-Campesino (CAC) social process methodology that the National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP) used to build a grassroots agroecology movement. This paper was produced in a 'self-study' process spearheaded by ANAP and La Via Campesina, the international agrarian movement of which ANAP is a member. In it we document and analyze the history of the Campesino-to-Campesino Agroecology Movement (MACAC), and the significantly increased contribution of peasants to national food production in Cuba that was brought about, at least in part, due to this movement. Our key findings are (i) the spread of agroecology was rapid and successful largely due to the social process methodology and social movement dynamics, (ii) farming practices evolved over time and contributed to significantly increased relative and absolute production by the peasant sector, and (iii) those practices resulted in additional benefits including resilience to climate change.
This article considers the global expansion of agrofuels feedstock production from a political economy perspective. It considers and dismisses the environmental and pro-poor developmental justifications attached to agrofuels. To local populations and direct producers, the specific destination of the crop as fuel, food, cosmetics or other final uses in faraway places is probably of less interest than the forms of (direct or indirect) appropriation of their land and the forms of their insertion or exclusion as producers in global commodity chains. Global demand for both agrofuels and food is stimulating new forms (or the resurgence of old forms) of corporate land grabbing and expropriation, and of incorporation of smallholders in contracted production. Drawing both on recent studies on agrofuels expansion and on the political economy literature on agrarian transition and capitalism in agriculture, this article raises the question whether "agrofuels capitalism" is in any way essentially different from other forms of capitalist agrarian monocrop production, and in turn whether the agrarian transitions involved require new tools of analysis.
Unfreedom in Indian agriculture is ordinarily associated with adult male bonded labour, and it is generally argued that unfreedom is likely to disappear as capitalism spreads/advances. By contrast, we find that workers employed on advanced capitalist cotton seed farms in Andhra Pradesh - accumulation linked to national and multinational capital - involves the employment of labour-power which is mostly unfree, female and young (7-14 years). Addressed here are the reasons for the transformations in the age and gender of unfree workers on such farms since the early 1970s. We argue that, in the context of men's emancipation from bonded labour, employers actively sought out relatively cheaper, more easily disciplined, unfree female labour. Then, in order to secure even cheaper female child labour, employers segmented the female labour market via ideologies about the superiority of female children over adult females. Corresponding changes in labourers' gender relations, which put more of the onus of family maintenance on to women and daughters, were found to facilitate the unfreedom of females.
This article examines the nature of women's resistance to gender inequities in resource distribution and ideological representation. It argues that to understand how women perceive these inequities it is necessary to take into account not only their overt protests but also the many covert forms their resistance might take. At the same time, to significantly alter gendered structures of property and power it appears necessary to move beyond 'individual-covert' to 'group-overt' (organized collective) resistance. These issues are examined here especially in the context of women's struggles for land rights and gender equality in South Asia. Although historically South Asian women have been important participants in peasant movements, these movements have not been typified by women demanding independent land rights or contesting iniquitous gender relations within the movements and within their families. Some recent challenges in this direction indicate that attaining gender equality in the distribution of productive resources will require a simultaneous struggle against constraining ideological constructions of gender, including (in many regions) associated social practices such as purdah. And in both types of struggle (namely concerning resources and gender ideologies), group-overt resistance is likely to be of critical importance.
New alliances between Brazil and the US for ethanol production, transport, and trade are revitalising and expanding the centuries -old sugarcane plantation system in the Americas. In this paper I adopt the concept of global assemblages, building on the work of Aihwa Ong, Stephen Collier, and Saskia Sassen, to draw the contours of an "ethanol assemblage," which includes states, corporations, growers, technologies, urban consumers, and rural communities and landscapes. Though important to conceptualise agrofuels as a global phenomenon, it is also necessary to recognise the distinct regional patterns that cohere around various aspects of this polymorphous industry. Therefore, I focus on alliances around sugarcane ethanol, paying particular attention to the role of Miami as a global city serving as a gateway to information, investment, and commodities for the public/private and national/transnational entities that are engaged in the hemispheric project of ethanol promotion, production and distribution.
The biofuel project is an agro-industrial development and politically contested policy process where governments increasingly become global actors. European Union (EU) biofuels policy rests upon arguments about societal benefits of three main kinds - namely, environmental protection (especially greenhouse gas savings), energy security and rural development, especially in the global South. Each argument involves optimistic assumptions about what the putative benefits mean and how they can be fulfilled. After examining those assumptions, we compare them with experiences in three countries - Germany, Brazil and Mozambique - which have various links to each other and to the EU through biofuels. In those case studies, there are fundamental contradictions between EU policy assumptions and practices in the real world, involving frictional encounters among biofuel promoters as well as with people adversely affected. Such contradictions may intensify with the future rise of biofuels and so warrant systematic attention.
This article investigates the changes affecting demographic reproduction of population of peasant origin when they shift from self‐sustenance to market economy and wage‐earning. It shows how in the domestic mode of production, the birth‐rate and the survival of the pre‐productive generation until the age of production are dependent on the labour productivity of subsistence agriculture and on the techniques of conservation of crops, and how social reproduction is governed by the mode of distribution of the surplus‐product. The loss of control of the communities over their grain reserves, and their progressive integration into the market economy and wage‐earning, change the conditions of demographic reproduction, which comes to depend on money income, prices of subsistence, market supply, level of employment etc. These circumstances and the concomitant insecurity favour both a burst of natality as a means of social security and the survival of the younger generations for longer periods; and they accentuate the demographic effects of famines or unemployment. Hence the dramatic consequences of the monetary policy implemented in the dependent countries on the physiological conditions of the proletarianised rural populations.
This paper examines the competing claims on land use resulting from the expansion of biofuel production. Sugarcane for biofuel drives agrarian change in So Paulo state, which has become the major ethanol-producing region in Brazil. We analyse how the expansion of sugarcane-based ethanol in So Paulo state has impacted dairy and beef production. Historical changes in land use, production technologies, and product and land prices are described, as well as how these are linked to changing policies in Brazil. We argue that sugarcane/biofuel expansion should be understood in the context of the dynamics of other agricultural sectors and the long-term national political economy rather than as solely due to recent global demand for biofuel. This argument is based on a meticulous analysis of changes in three important sectors - sugarcane, dairy farming, and beef production - and the mutual interactions between these sectors.
This article draws on data from research that includes 400 children who lived separately from their migrant parents in 10 rural communities in China, to explore the deep impacts of rural parents' migration on the care-giving and nurturing of children left behind. It shows that parent migration has brought about multiple impacts, mostly negative, on the lives of children, such as increased workloads, little study tutoring and supervision, and above all the unmet needs of parental affection. Children's basic daily care and personal safety could become problematic since surrogate caregivers, mostly elderly, are usually exhausted with livelihood maintenance. With illumination on the family dysfunction in children's development due to migration-induced family separation, this article highlights the social cost to rural families of parental migration. Urbanization in developing countries is obtained at the expense of rural migrants and their families, especially children left behind. Further attention is required to improve left-behind children's well being within split family structures and interregional migration.
The global political economy of biofuels emerging since 2007 appears set to intensify inequalities among the countries and rural peoples of the global South. Looking through a global political economy lens, this paper analyses the consequences of proliferating biofuel alliances among multinational corporations, governments, and domestic producers. Since many major biofuel feedstocks - such as sugar, oil palm, and soy - are already entrenched in industrial agricultural and forestry production systems, the authors extrapolate from patterns of production for these crops to bolster their argument that state capacities, the timing of market entry, existing institutions, and historical state-society land tenure relations will particularly affect the potential consequences of further biofuel development. Although the impacts of biofuels vary by region and feedstock, and although some agrarian communities in some countries of the global South are poised to benefit, the analysis suggests that already-vulnerable people and communities will bear a disproportionate share of the costs of biofuel development, particularly for biofuels from crops already embedded in industrial production systems. A core reason, this paper argues, is that the emerging biofuel alliances are reinforcing processes and structures that increase pressures on the ecological integrity of tropical forests and further wrest control of resources from subsistence farmers, indigenous peoples, and people with insecure land rights. Even the development of so-called 'sustainable' biofuels looks set to displace livelihoods and reinforce and extend previous waves of hardship for such marginalised peoples.
This article examines proto-industrialization and the social relations of production in a rural parish in eastern Westphalia that experienced large-scale outmigration to the American Midwest in the mid-nineteenth century. Relying on local and individual-level Prussian tax and emigration records, the study identifies and analyses the socio-economic background of the migrant cohort in terms of proto-industrial activity and peasant economy. Preceded by the downfall of domestic textile industries due to British industrial competition, outmigration was highly selective, drawing individuals from specific socio-economic niches. Landless sharecroppers - linked by debt and labour obligations to better-off peasants and landlords - were underrepresented in the migration, while smallholding peasants and day-labourers - 'free' to commodify their labour power through the sale of home-produced textile products or seasonal migratory labour - were overrepresented. The findings of the study have implications for an understanding of the localized nature of the relations of production in proto-industrial regions, the historical nature of German emigrations, and the dynamics of the German transition to industrial capitalism in the nineteenth century.
"The focus of this article is on the strong positive correlation between landholdings and household size observed in rural India. It may be recalled that Chayanov cites some Russian data exhibiting a similar correlation as evidence in support of his theory of the life cycle and its consequences among peasant families, arguing in particular that the causation behind the correlation runs from the family size and its composition to the size of landholdings. This paper argues that in the Indian case the correlation cannot possibly arise from the type of dynamics posited by Chayanovian theory. The explanation lies in the differential demographic structures, including the propensity for families to remain joint or undivided, among the peasant classes, the causation running in the direction opposite to that suggested by Chayanov."
"This article explores the responses of peasant households in China to the quite new and radical demands made on their resources as a result of the various recent rural economic reforms....[It attempts] to identify current changes in size, structure and activity of domestic and kin groups, and to analyse the new socio-economic relations within and between households. It argues that in order to mobilise and maximise their labour and other resources to arrange for the production, consumption and welfare of household members, close kin and neighbouring peasant households have combined to give rise to a new family form, the aggregate family. This study analyses the factors leading to its formation, identifies the characteristics of this new family form and examines its relations both within and beyond the village."
This paper examines some of the interrelations that exist between rural China's peasant economy and the wider economy in which it is embedded. In doing so it focuses on the circular flows that link town and countryside. Multiple job holding is strategic in this respect. The paper draws on research undertaken in a peasant village in Hebei Province. The research highlights some remarkable differences that exist between development processes in China and in other developing countries and traces these back to a combination of an enlightened rural policy and the strong linkages that exist between rural China and its urban "global factory".
This paper notes the prominence of self-help groups (SHGs) within current anti-poverty policy in India, and analyses the impacts of government- and NGO-backed SHGs in rural North Karnataka. It argues that self-help groups represent a partial neoliberalisation of civil society in that they address poverty through low-cost methods that do not challenge the existing distribution of power and resources between the dominant class and the labouring class poor. It finds that intra-group savings and loans and external loans/subsidies can provide marginal economic and political gains for members of the dominant class and those members of the labouring classes whose insecure employment patterns currently provide above poverty line consumption levels, but provide neither material nor political gains for the labouring class poor. Target-oriented SHG catalysts are inattentive to how the social relations of production reproduce poverty and tend to overlook class relations and socio-economic and political differentiation within and outside of groups, which are subject to interference by dominant class local politicians and landowners.
"This study attempts to understand the dynamics that produce the persistent observation of a strong positive correlation between family size and extent of landholdings in predominantly agrarian economies [in India]. Such a correlation can arise from different types of demographic configurations including the rules of family formation. For example, big landholdings may be associated with large families, despite the lack of differentials across holdings of different size in fertility and mortality, simply because these families may remain undivided for long periods. In the absence of conclusive data to analyse this relationship in the Indian case, this study sets up a computer simulation model for studying the results of alternative demographic configurations."
In recent years, an important item on the agenda of economic reformers in India has been to reduce the scale of food subsidies, by means of targeting the system of public distribution of food (PDS). A recent World Bank study makes concrete suggestions for reform of the PDS and these are examined critically in this article. Specifically, 1 argue against narrow targeting and in favour of broad targeting or near‐universal provision of the PDS. I also argue that a strong and effective system of procurement needs to be maintained and this requires the continuation of an organisation such as the Food Corporation of India. The lesson from Kerala is that strong political support is essential for establishing and maintaining an effective system of food security.
The number of famine prone regions in the world has been shrinking for centuries. It is currently mainly limited to sub-Saharan Africa. Yet the impact of endemic hunger has not declined and the early twenty-first century seems to be faced with a new threat: global subsistence crises. In this essay I question the concepts of famine and food crisis from different analytical angles: historical and contemporary famine research, food regime theory, and peasant studies. I will argue that only a more integrated historical framework of analysis can surpass dualistic interpretations grounded in Eurocentric modernization paradigms. This article successively debates historical and contemporary famine research, the contemporary food regime and the new global food crisis, the lessons from Europe's 'grand escape' from hunger, and the peasantry and 'depeasantization' as central analytical concepts. Dualistic histories of food and famine have been dominating developmentalist stories for too long. This essay shows how a blending of historical and contemporary famine research, food regime theory and new peasant studies can foster a more integrated perspective.