Between sojización and forestry: emerging agribusiness strategies of land consolidation in Paraguay

Authors: Jamie Gagliano*, Rutgers University
Topics: Agricultural Geography, Food Systems
Keywords: soy, agribusiness, forestry, governance, land
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 31
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Soy has taken on a life of its own in Paraguayan socio-political discourses, so much so that Kregg Hetherington (2020) has deemed it a hyperobject. Competing narratives of ‘la soja mata’ (soy kills) and ‘el mar del oro verde’ (sea of green gold) fix soy into the political, economic, and ecological imaginary of opponents and supporters alike. Although the where of sojización is difficult to locate, it is underpinned by a racialized and gendered land tenure arrangement made possible through imperialist development projects connected to Green Revolution technologies and the Rockefeller Foundation. Peasant and Indigenous foodways have become increasingly difficult to ensure as GM seeds, pesticides and deforestation rapidly alter ecologies. I explore the work that fixation on soy does to obscure a broader strategy of land consolidation and ecological management through plantation-based reforestation. As soy has come under fire for encouraging rapid deforestation, monocropped eucalyptus production has emerged alongside reforestation discourses with the aim of sanitizing agribusiness’ image as responsible ecological managers. Paraguay’s Reforestation Law, on the books since 1973 and given greater weight in the early 2000s, has become an effective tool for deflecting critiques of soy production to allow continued agribusiness capital accumulation and production expansion. As eucalyptus plantations appear to curb the worst excesses of soy’s continued expansion, I aim to consider the ways the lives and livelihoods of the rural poor and Indigenous groups are reshaped by the quiet entrance of eucalyptus even as land consolidation in the hands of agribusinesses continues.

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