Source: Al Jazeera
The economics of the future is based on people and biodiversity – not fossil fuels, toxic chemicals and monocultures.
New Delhi, India – The economic crisis, the ecological crisis and the food crisis are a reflection of an outmoded and fossilised economic paradigm – a paradigm that grew out of mobilising resources for the war by creating the category of economic “growth” and is rooted in the age of oil and fossil fuels. It is fossilised both because it is obsolete, and because it is a product of the age of fossil fuels. We need to move beyond this fossilised paradigm if we are to address the economic and ecological crisis.
Economy and ecology have the same roots “oikos” – meaning home – both our planetary home, the Earth, and our home where we live our everyday lives in family and community.
But economy strayed from ecology, forgot the home and focused on the market. An artificial “production boundary” was created to measure Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The production boundary defined work and production for sustenance as non-production and non-work – “if you produce what you consume, then you don’t produce”. In one fell swoop, nature’s work in providing goods and services disappeared. The production and work of sustenance economies disappeared, the work of hundreds of millions of women disappeared.
To the false measure of growth is added a false measure of “productivity”. Productivity is output for unit input. In agriculture this should involve all outputs of biodiverse agro-ecosystems – the compost, energy and dairy products from livestock, the fuel and fodder and fruit from agroforestry and farm trees, the diverse outputs of diverse crops. When measured honestly in terms of total output, small biodiverse farms produce more and are more productive.
Inputs should include all inputs – capital, seeds, chemicals, machinery, fossil fuels, labour, land and water. The false measure of productivity selects one output from diverse outputs – the single commodity to be produced for the market, and one input from diverse inputs – labour.
Thus low output, high input chemical, industrial monocultures, which in fact have a negative productivity, are artificially rendered more productive than small, biodiverse, ecological farms. And this is at the root of the false assumption that small farms must be destroyed and replaced by large industrial farms.
This false, fossilised measure of productivity is at the root of the multiple crises we face in food and agriculture.
It is at the root of hunger and malnutrition, because, while commodities grow, food and nutrition have disappeared from the farming system. “Yield” measures the output of a single commodity, not the output of food and nutrition.
This is the root of the agrarian crisis.