The Bernstein and Byres Prize in Agrarian Change for 2016

By Jo Tomkinson|July 8, 2017|Agriculture, Journal of Agrarian Change, Labour|0 comments

This post has been jointly written by the editors of the Journal of Agrarian Change: Liam Campling, Cristóbal Kay, Jens Lerche, and Carlos Oya. It is part of the Journal of Agrarian Change blog, hosted on the Development Studies at SOAS blog. The ‘Bernstein & Byres Prize’ has been awarded since 2008 by the Journal of Agrarian Change (JAC) to the best article published in that year. An award of £500 is

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Book Review of Bina Agarwal’s Gender Challenges

By Jo Tomkinson|June 28, 2017|Agriculture, Journal of Agrarian Change, Political ecology, State in development, Women's rights|0 comments

This post is written by Haroon Akram-Lodhi who is Professor in the Department of International Development Studies, Trent University, Ontario. It is part of the Journal of Agrarian Change blog, hosted on the Development Studies at SOAS blog. Gender Challenges, Volume 1: Agriculture, Technology, and Food Security, by Bina Agarwal. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2016. Pp. 400+xxiii. US$235 / Rs. 6595 (3-volume set, pb.). ISBN: 978-0-19-809982-6. Gender Challenges, Volume 2: Property,

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Book Review of Jan Breman’s Mobilizing Labour for the Global Coffee Market

By Jo Tomkinson|June 20, 2017|Agriculture, Journal of Agrarian Change, Labour|0 comments

This post is written by John M. Talbot, Chair of the Political Economy of the World System section of the American Sociological Association. It is part of the Journal of Agrarian Change blog, hosted on the Development Studies at SOAS blog. Mobilizing Labour for the Global Coffee Market: Profits from an Unfree Work Regime in Colonial Java, by Jan Breman. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2015. Pp. 404 + 8 Plates €99 (hb). ISBN

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Rethinking Agrarian Transitions and Left Politics in India

By Jo Tomkinson|May 31, 2017|Agriculture, Journal of Agrarian Change, Labour, Neoliberalism, Uncategorized|0 comments

Free Issue of Journal of Agrarian Change to mark 50 years since Naxalbari This post is written by Jens Lerche, Reader in Agrarian and Labour Studies in the Department of Development Studies, SOAS and Editor in Chief of Journal of Agrarian Change, Alpa Shah, Associate Professor (Reader) in Anthropology at LSE, and Barbara Harriss-White,  Emeritus Professor of Development Studies at Oxford University. It is part of the Journal of Agrarian Change blog, hosted

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Reshaping the Debate on Land Alienation in Africa: What are the Origins of Social Change?

By Jo Tomkinson|April 27, 2016|Agriculture, Neoliberalism|2 comments

Matt Kandel is a Newton International Fellow in the Department of Development Studies at SOAS. One Monday afternoon last August I was seated underneath a large palm tree with my friend, Simon, in Soroti Town in rural eastern Uganda, both of us relaxing and seeking a minor respite from the equatorial African sun.  The subject of our conversation was the weekend-long clan meeting that he and his family had organised

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High-tech Oranges and Big Pharma Blueberries: Industrialising Freshness in Global Agriculture

By Jo Tomkinson|December 4, 2015|Agriculture, Uncategorized|3 comments

Christopher Cramer is Professor of the Political Economy of Development at the SOAS Department of Development Studies. His recent work has included the DfID funded project Fairtrade, Employment and Poverty Reduction in Ethiopia and Uganda.

I recently asked the owner of a blueberry producing firm in South Africa whether he would consider the packet of fresh plump blueberries on the table between us a manufactured product. After all, the berries embodied the technology of genetic variety development (in California), carefully monitored planting, weeding, spraying and advanced irrigation technology, not to mention post-harvest care and packaging. ‘More than that’, he said, rolling a blueberry between his fingers ‘this is a pill – blueberries are part of big pharma’. With their superfood kudos, blueberries get the company a lot of free advertising.

So a blueberry is a high-tech pharmaceutical product, a pill. Meanwhile, a fresh orange bought in a Europe or the US has more technology embedded within in it, is higher value, and is more ‘processed’ in some respects, than a carton of orange juice squashed from poorer quality oranges.

Globally, agriculture is not only big business – it is also industrial business. It encompasses the increasing use of the genetics of plant stock, water-saving micro and nano irrigation, waste-reducing targeted nutrient supply and pesticide application and post-harvest ‘ripening facilities’. It also entails the need for new IT systems to monitor and ensure traceability of every batch of avocados, macadamia nuts or oranges to meet demanding phyto-sanitary regulations, the complex logistics and infrastructure of packhouses, ports and airport cold storage, as well as sophisticated advances in packaging, labelling, and branding. All these processes and technologies amount to the industrialisation of freshness.