Changing agro-food systems: The impact of big agro-investors on food rights
This book (PDF) by PLAAS presents case studies on changing agro-food systems in Southern Africa within the context of large-scale land-based and agri-business investments. By capturing the testimonies of local people in rural settings, with a particular focus on small-scale farmers, it aims to provide vivid accounts of the micro-level changes underway in agro-food systems in Southern Africa, and to reflect on the experiences and perspectives of local people. This project is a response to the need to understand, and generate knowledge and effective partnerships to respond to the rapid changes underway in African agro-food systems. The case studies show the growing food insecurity for poorer households in the context of increasing levels of agro-investment. In Mozambique and Zambia, both at national and district level, governments view the promotion of new crops and new seed varieties by agro-investors as a means of improving food security and livelihoods, under the assumption that cash crops bring substantial wage and employment opportunities to the rural economy. However, the case studies in both countries reveal that specialisation in cash crops by small-scale farmers is also associated with the depletion of natural resources, the disappearance of traditional foods due to the growing use of agro-chemicals like herbicides, and the reduction of the range of diversity of seed varieties as a result of the growing prominence of hybrid seeds that offer small-scale farmers higher yields.