Turbulence on the Periphery: The New Green Revolution for Africa as a Contested Narrative of Incorporation

Authors: William Moseley*, Macalester College
Topics: Agricultural Geography, Cultural and Political Ecology, Africa
Keywords: Africa, Critical Agrarian Studies, Feminist Political Ecology, New Green Revolution, Rice
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Regency Ballroom, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Global philanthropy and aid organizations have framed African small scale, subsistence agriculture as a major development challenge of the early 21st century. Female farmers, who play a major role in African food production, are viewed as central to the African food puzzle, yet are seen as oddly resistant to capitalist incorporation. Advocates of the New Green Revolution for Africa argue that the solution is to better incorporate small farmers into the global food economy via value chains involving the use of improved inputs, better production technologies, and enhanced access to markets. This paper presents research, employing a feminist political ecology approach, to analyze international aid efforts in southwestern Burkina Faso employing value chains to target female smallholder farmers growing rice. The paper addresses three questions. First, to what degree are these projects actually impacting the food security and dietary diversity of participating women? Second, how do women navigate emerging market opportunities and existing subsistence options? Third, why do women continue to invest significant time and energy in non-market based food procurement given market opportunities? Results suggest that subsistence production, wild food collection, land tenure, and female agency are hugely important for the food security and dietary diversity of the poorest households. As such, value chain approaches that are not cognizant of these factors may actually undermine, rather than improve, household food security. The findings are based on semi-structured interviews with 180 female rice farmers, both in and outside, New Green Revolution rice projects in 2016 and 2017.

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