The small peasant family unit

The small peasant family unit

By Javier Suazo

In Latin America, neoliberal structural adjustment processes have not yet been able to with peasant economies. Neoclassical economists at Harvard and other universities where this economic theory is taught simultaneously as synonymous with political economy, consider that peasant production units are inefficient by definition since they never reach and will never reach the ideal equilibrium: the price of a product. (corn for example) is equal to the marginal cost of producing it.

Food transnationals and local and regional wholesalers have discovered, in this phase of global crisis, that rather than destroying peasant economies, they must be supported with transgenic seed so that they increase their production and productivity and, therefore, their meager income, regardless of the fact that its indiscriminate use destroys the natural balance of peasant production and affects human health. They wait, like when the yellow beard (a snake from the northern part of Honduras) is confused with the undergrowth so that the prey will come to bite it, that the harvest will come out and buy it at ridiculous prices.

The government also supports these efforts, insofar as it provides technical assistance and inputs to the peasants with the purpose of increasing production, not guaranteeing a fair price for said products since this contradicts the market laws and the trade agreements signed. As guarantee prices are eliminated with trade agreements, the agreement on basic grain prices is one of the instruments used, but generally the agreements signed are violated by agroindustrial companies, supermarkets and development banks.

Financial and international cooperation organizations are also interested in peasant economies, supporting governments to carry out rural competitiveness projects that allow these families to get out of poverty by exploiting non-traditional crops and leaving corn and beans in oblivion. and rice, since it is cheaper to import them. These projects base their conceptual and methodological approach on the design of a business plan where first you have to tell the farmers what to produce and how to produce, and then who to sell to: A wholesale supermarket linked to a food transnational.

2014 has been declared by the United Nations as the year of small family or peasant economies. There is talk of fighting hunger and drought caused by climate change, establishing contracts for the sale of basic foods with these economies to guarantee fair prices and at the same time partially cover the school lunch. Consumption subsidy? of the child population. As well as building the infrastructure for the storage of grains and commercialization of the products; also from harvesting and eating insects. But still institutions like FAO do not speak of the permanent transfer of income from peasant economies to other sectors such as industry and commerce, much less of the control exercised by transnational companies. There is not even talk of agrarian reform, as the main instrument for these economies to have access to a part of the national wealth, produce more food and die in dignity.

In Latin America, countries like Bolivia and Ecuador are fighting against this logic of supporting peasant economies for the benefit of transnational food companies. Perhaps the United Nations will learn from these experiences and transfer them to other countries, demanding - at least - from these companies and governments, to stop the concentration and deterioration of natural resources destined for the production of basic foods for the population that historically they belong to these economies led mostly by women.


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