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Enabling food sovereignty and a prosperous future for peasants by understanding the factors that marginalise peasants and lead to poverty and hunger


  • Sofia Naranjo



Dominant development discourse and policy are based on crucial misconceptions about peasants and their livelihoods. Peasants are viewed as inherently poor and hungry and their farming systems are considered inefficient, of low productivity, and sometimes even environmentally degrading. Consequently, dominant development policies have tried to transform peasants into something else: industrialised commercial farmers, wage labourers, urban workers, etc. This article seeks to deconstruct three key misconceptions about peasants by explaining how and why marginalised peasants around the world face poverty and hunger. An explanation of the process of marginalisation of peasants through the influence of five “mediating factors” is put forward. It is contended that by addressing the mediating factors through policies devised with the active participation of peasants, the marginalisation of peasants would be reduced or eliminated. This would allow peasants to forge an adequate livelihood in rural areas based on their independent farming, and thereby contribute to the achievement of food sovereignty. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Suggested Citation

  • Sofia Naranjo, 2012. "Enabling food sovereignty and a prosperous future for peasants by understanding the factors that marginalise peasants and lead to poverty and hunger," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 29(2), pages 231-246, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:agrhuv:v:29:y:2012:i:2:p:231-246
    DOI: 10.1007/s10460-011-9345-7

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Miguel A Altieri & Clara I Nicholls, 2008. "Scaling up Agroecological Approaches for Food Sovereignty in Latin America," Development, Palgrave Macmillan;Society for International Deveopment, vol. 51(4), pages 472-480, December.
    2. Pretty, Jules N., 1995. "Participatory learning for sustainable agriculture," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 23(8), pages 1247-1263, August.
    3. Lipton, Michael, 2005. "The family farm in a globalizing world: the role of crop science in alleviating poverty," 2020 vision discussion papers 40, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    4. Chambers, Robert, 1994. "Participatory rural appraisal (PRA): Analysis of experience," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 22(9), pages 1253-1268, September.
    5. Chambers, Robert, 1994. "The origins and practice of participatory rural appraisal," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 22(7), pages 953-969, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Graeub, Benjamin E. & Chappell, M. Jahi & Wittman, Hannah & Ledermann, Samuel & Kerr, Rachel Bezner & Gemmill-Herren, Barbara, 2016. "The State of Family Farms in the World," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 1-15.

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    Food sovereignty; Rural poverty; Peasant; Brazil;


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