To change food, change land
Writing about the bridge between food systems change and land reform
I’m Adam Calo, PhD. I write about the Land Food Nexus.
My academic work is based on the premise that a food system transition only occurs in tandem with changes to how land is owned, governed, and transferred.
I’ll share my research on this theme as well as my take on contemporary approaches to reforming agricultural systems. In more specific terms, I work on:
Land access in agriculture
How does one gain access to something? What is unique about land that makes controlling it especially interesting? What social dynamics must be applied to convince someone else that some land is owned? Who owns farmland and who is trying to own farmland? What are the links between proposed alternative food production strategies, like agroecology and regenerative agriculture, and land tenure?
What efforts are being deployed to change how farmland is owned, accessed, transferred and controlled? In the Global North, where cultural and legal norms of private property dominate, where is there space for change or innovation? How might property law be a lever to foster alternative forms of agriculture?
New entrant farmers
An ageing farmer dynamic worldwide prompts policy makers to urge for the creation of more new farmers. Why? Who are these farmers and what are there aspirations? How will they gain access to expensive farmland or find a dignified place to live nearby?
Techno-optimism and food system interventions
What do solutions like vertical farming, genetic engineering, climate smart agriculture, robotic farm laborers, and payments for ecosystem services tell us about the politics of food system change? Who pushes these types of interventions and what are the alternatives? What does theory from political economy tell us about the potential consequences of these interventions?
Most nations and municipalities have separate institutions for farm, environmental, and public health policy. A food policy would bridge the three. What are the concerns of food policy and how are they to be implemented and monitored? How should policy makers contend with grand debates within food research such as food security versus food sovereignty and land sparing versus land sharing?
Democratizing food system research
What methods can be employed by researchers to distribute power and benefits through research? Academic research has a long history of exploitation, where benefits flow from the researched to the researcher. In agricultural research, scientists have employed their expert knowledge in the service of certain implicit and explicit visions of how farming should be done. What tools and techniques can researchers in food systems use to bring forth an emancipatory practice?
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