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Farming by Bankers, Pigs and H1N1

In Uncategorized on 13/08/2009 at 7:18 am

Wanted to cross-post a piece on small-scale farmers from Harrison George on Prachathai –

“But productivity can also be measured in terms not of output per worker, but output per unit of input. And in agriculture, your biggest input is land.

Now Khun Burapa, working from a point of view that says farms operate on the same principles as factories, or banks, immediately thinks of economies of scale. Piddling little fields with a bit of this and a bit of that, mixed up with ponds and fruit trees, well, it’s just not efficient. Broad monocropped acres is the way to go.

Except that from country to country, from climate to climate, the research shows that small farms are more productive. Not if you just count the yield from a single crop. But no farmer with any sense wants to do that. Easiest way of depleting soil quality and encouraging pests. Put bluntly, in terms that banker might understand, nature doesn’t recognize economies of scale.

But the World Bankers of the 60s were as misguided as Khun Burapa and actively encouraged monocropping. So soils have been depleted and pests have multiplied. The fertile soil of Thailand that Khun Burapa takes as a given is, in what were the most fertile places, a thing of the past. Farmers need fertilizers. And since soil degradation just gets worse until you change the cropping system, you need more and more just to keep yields at the same level. Even if the price of fertilizer didn’t go up (and it does), farmers need to spend increasing sums on ever more liberal applications.”

AAN – Esan: The author makes some important points here, especially the fact that small farms are more productive.  This productivity on our member’s farms has translated into food security for rural communities and improved livelihoods.  Fields “mixed up with ponds and fruit trees,” what we call “Integrated Agriculture,” is the basis for farmers’ organic production strategies and their farm biodiversity.  Farmers are able to sell excess produce at Green Markets or in their communities and earn weekly income.  Thanks to Mr. George for pointing out what we’ve been trying to say for a long time.

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Also, a recent article on the connections between pigs and H1N1 transmission in Canada:

“Density of pigs also seems to have a relationship with H1N1 rates—especially when it comes to the most recent flu cases. There is a 95-percent correlation between new cases of H1N1 confirmed during the week of June 29 and the number of pigs per farm in a particular region.

The same high correlations exist Canada-wide, according to Statistics Canada figures on pig farms and an analysis of data on confirmed H1N1 cases from the Public Health Agency of Canada as of July 8. The data shows that the flu has been more severe in areas with intensive, large-scale hog production.

The total number of confirmed H1N1 cases in each province has a 99-percent correlation with the number of pig farms in that province.

In Quebec, the province with the highest number of pigs—4.3 million—residents were twice as likely to be hospitalized when they acquired H1N1 as the Canadian average. Quebec’s death rate from H1N1 per capita has been 60 percent higher than the national average.

The flu outbreak has been even more severe in Manitoba, which has 2.4 pigs per person, more than any other province. There, the number of H1N1 hospitalizations per capita is triple the national average. The rate of H1N1 deaths per capita in Manitoba has been more than 3.7 times higher than the Canadian average.”

AAN – Esan: The same correlation seems to be true of central Thailand, where the majority of flu cases are occuring and where the majority of CP’s industrial operations and CFOs run.

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