To cool the planet, give land back to small farmers and indigenous communities

Peru’s violent land conflicts also bring into focus another issue of equal importance to climate change that can no longer be ignored: the concentration of farmland in the hands of a few. Small farms of less than 5 hectares represent 78% of all farms in Peru, but occupy a mere 6% of the country’s agricultural lands. This disturbing figure mirrors the global situation. Worldwide, small farms account for 90% of all farms yet occupy less than a quarter of the agricultural land. This is bad news for the climate. Just as the dispossession of indigenous peoples of their territories has opened the door to destructive, unsustainable resource extraction, the dispossession of peasants of their lands has laid the basis for an industrial food system that, amongst its many negative effects, is responsible for 44-57% of all global greenhouse gas emissions.

Giving lands back to small farmers and indigenous communities is also the most effective way to deal with the challenges of feeding a growing global population in an era of climate chaos. Small farmers are more efficient at producing food than big plantations. On the fraction of lands that they have held on to, small farmers and indigenous communities continue to produce most of the world’s food.

The twin needs of feeding the world and cooling the planet can be met. But not if the governments meeting in Lima continue to ignore and violently repress the struggles of their peasants and indigenous peoples for land.

– From The solution to climate change is in our lands, published by GRAIN.

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