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UN expert: Farmers must not be disempowered labourers on their own land

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Wednesday, 26 October 2011

UN expert: Farmers must not be disempowered labourers on their own land

“For too long farmers have been forced to eke out a living from subsistence agriculture or, once they've fallen in debt, to cede their land and labour to work in exploitative conditions on plantations. Our failure to help small-scale farmers to access markets – and to live decently from farming – is a key cause of hunger,” warned Olivier De Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food.

“We must empower smallholders to negotiate decent terms with buyers, and we must explore the most inclusive business models. Governments must not shirk their responsibility to oversee arrangements between farmers and buyers, and to equip smallholders to rise up the value chain.”

Recent years have seen an upsurge in large-scale land purchases by foreign investors – so-called ‘land-grabbing’ – but less attention has been paid to the parallel rise in contract farming arrangements, whereby farmers commit their output to processing or marketing firms at predetermined prices.

Source: UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food