ISSC concept note: The future of seeds (and agriculture) in Argentina

  • Published 15/04/15

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The dominant agricultural production system in Argentina and other parts of Latin America is based on high external input, intensive, large scale commodity crop production for export (e.g. soya, maize, sunflower, etc.). This system as a whole poses sustainability challenges of three kinds: (i) in the economic realm, commercial agriculture is characterized by the concentration of activities (e.g. few types of crop), of knowledge (e.g. inputs produced by very few international firms), and of production (e.g. large size of farm units) which poses development threats in terms of low economic resilience, little added value, and limited domestic capability building; (ii) in the social realm it is characterized by low levels of benefit sharing (e.g. little employment) and low involvement in decision making (e.g. farming is increasingly contracted out to specialist firms) and (iii) in the environmental realm it is characterized by, amongst other things, loss of biodiversity, ecosystem service degradation, and resource depletion.

Those challenges have adverse implications – amongst other things for food security, rural livelihoods, the health of rural workers and inhabitants and for global environmental change – but also for national development, given for example diminished possibilities for the creation of domestic technological capabilities, and threats to the long-term viability of the activity, which provides important source of income, rents, external exchange and capabilities to the countries.

Some of these challenges are beginning to be acknowledged by national governments and other actors, but it is clear that governments find them extremely difficult to respond to. We discuss in this note why and will propose a way to help to address these challenges with our research.

This concept note is part of the ISSC Transformative Knowledge Network programme.