Community-supported agriculture – a system in which a farm operation is supported by shareholders within the community who share both the benefits and risks of food production.
If we want to meet the challenge of feeding a growing global population in a changing climate, we must change the entire “global food supply system. So say UN officials, organizing an entire “Summit on Food Systems” in New York on September 23, 2021.
At present, one-third of all the food produced in the world is simply thrown into the compost, at best, while ten percent of the world’s population suffers from hunger – something has gone wrong. Clearly, “the whole system has to change,” but how? That is what UN officials hope to find out at the Summit on Food Systems. It is already clear that outbreaks of hunger in Asia, Africa, and Latin America are sometimes not the only result of wars, natural disasters, and poorly organized political governance.
But according to Welthungerhilfe, an influential think tank, imbalances in global trade relations, including unfair trade agreements and agricultural subsidies that Western countries use to support domestic food producers, also play a role.
Switzerland has a well-developed system of agricultural subsidies, without which the country’s already expensive food would be gold. It is thus at the heart of this issue, hence it would be interesting to know what position the main political and industrial players in this country hold. “There are several problems in today’s global food system,” says Yvan Schulz of the Swissair Foundation for Development Cooperation.
For example, small farms are now critically dependent on international seed concerns. Large plantations take up a lot of land for the production of export monocultures, so too little food is produced for local people in such countries. The exported foodstuffs are then transported to the other side of the world, where much of it goes to waste. And these are just the most obvious problems, says Ivan Schultz, emphasizing the problems will only worsen as yields decline due to climate change amid rapid population growth in the Global South.
How to transform agriculture with community support?
“Switzerland welcomes the planned transformation of food systems. All actors on the international scene now agree that the entire system must change, not only economically, but also socially and environmentally,” points out Swiss Cabinet spokesman Pierre-Alain Eltschinger in response to an inquiry by SWI swissinfo.ch.
But already now NGOs, governments, and industry lobbyists are arguing fiercely about how to do this concretely. While some see the solution in promoting agroecological technologies and strengthening the position of small farmers, others advocate the benefits of public-private partnerships, talking about the need for a “green revolution” based on genome-editing capabilities.
According to Syngenta Group, a Chinese agrochemical company and world leader in pesticides headquartered in Basel, a lot of food can now be produced with better seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides. ”We’re helping farmers harvest more crops from a smaller area so that there is enough food for the world’s population.”
Leftist NGOs and charities such as Swissair, Public Eye, Brot für die Welt, and many others see things differently. In their view, there is indeed enough food being produced now, and if anyone is to blame for hunger, it is “social inequality. They believe that small-scale farmers in the Global South should receive more support for the development of agroecological – i.e. environmentally friendly and socially just – farming. Swissair even demands the introduction of preferential tariff treatment for agro-ecological agricultural products from the South, as well as targeted subsidies.
Patrick Dümmler of the liberal think tank Avenir Suisse is skeptical of demands by leftist NGOs to subsidize agricultural products from the South. “Closing markets to themselves and protectionism raise the domestic price of agricultural products, so these measures do not reduce poverty; rather, they generate it. This approach does not help local farmers, and Switzerland is a sad example.
“Isolation leads to the fact that the main piece of the profitable pie is in the hands not of farmers, but of those who are in the whole value-added chain before or after them. According to P. Dummler, “the fight against hunger and poverty requires the most barrier-free system of international trade and economic relations. He sees great potential in genetic engineering, which makes it possible to reduce the use of pesticides by developing varieties that require less water. It also makes sense to “reduce food losses due to improper storage immediately after harvest. And this is where the knowledge of our trading partners, such as large corporations, can help us tremendously.