Smallholders, Householders: Farm Families and the Ecology of Intensive, Sustainable Agriculture

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Stanford University Press, Jan 1, 1993 - Social Science - 389 pages
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This timely and convincing book challenges the myth that only modern, large-scale, mechanized, scientific agriculture can provide the food needed for the world's rapidly growing population. It is a detailed and innovative analysis of the agricultural efficiency and conservation of resources practiced around the world by smallholders - farmers who practice intensive, permanent, diversified agriculture on relatively small farms in areas of dense population. Using dozens of ethnographic examples from Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas, the author demonstrates that there are significant, fundamental commonalities among smallholder cultures. He argues that smallholder farming, wherever it takes place, is a viable alternative to today's dominant ideal of industrial agriculture, with its dependence on fossil fuels, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. The author critiques prevailing theories - neoclassical and socialist, Right and Left - of the evolution of agriculture and the political economy of "peasants" that consign smallholders to the status of inefficient and outmoded anachronisms with primitive technology, grueling labor, and poverty. He shows, among other things, that smallholders produce more per unit area than large farms in the same region, and that they do so with greater energy efficiency and less environmental degradation. The family household is the major social unit of smallholders. It trains its members in agricultural tasks, coordinates their labor, regulates household consumption, produces a significant part of its own subsistence, and usually participates in the marketplace, where it sells its agricultural goods and the products of cottage industry. Thehousehold must make daily decisions in rational, utilitarian terms - allocating time, effort, tools, land, and capital to specific uses in a context of changing climate, resource availability, and markets. Smallholder households have well defined, heritable property rights in their
  

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Contents

Tables and Figures
1
Characterizing a Type 2 Why Study Smallholders? Some Sub
21
Tables and Figures
25
The Technology and Knowledge of Intensive Farm
28
The Nigerian System of Permanent Subsistence Cultivation 29 A Swiss Alpine
56
LaborTime Allocation
102
Energy Inputs Outputs and Sustainable Systems
123
Farm Size and Productivity 146
146
Inequality Stratification and Polarization
189
Chinese Smallholders
232
Intensive Agriculture Population Density Markets
261
Peasant Farming and the Chayanov Model
295
Does the Smallholder Have a Future?
320
References Cited
337
Index
379
Copyright

Smallholder Property and Tenure
157

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