Advanced

Between Nature and Modernity : Agroecology as an alternative development pathway: the case of Uganda

Isgren, Ellinor LU (2018)
Abstract (Swedish)
Jordbruksmodernisering har dramatiskt ökat tillgången till mat på global nivå, men till ett högt pris för miljön. Idag efterlyser många ett ’paradigmskifte’ i jordbruket, även flera stora mainstream-institutioner. Med ett skifte till vad? Under senare år har det synts en ökande tilltro till agroekologi, ett alternativ som syftar till att förstå och bedriva jordbruk som komplexa agroekosystem. Från ett utvecklingsperspektiv anses detta alternativ ha potential att inte bara bidra till hållbarhet, men även att utgöra en inkluderande utvecklingsmodell tack vare agroekologins särskilda tillämpbarhet för småbrukare med begränsad tillgång till kapital. Uganda är ett av många länder i Afrika söder om Sahara där det finns stora förhoppningar om... (More)
Jordbruksmodernisering har dramatiskt ökat tillgången till mat på global nivå, men till ett högt pris för miljön. Idag efterlyser många ett ’paradigmskifte’ i jordbruket, även flera stora mainstream-institutioner. Med ett skifte till vad? Under senare år har det synts en ökande tilltro till agroekologi, ett alternativ som syftar till att förstå och bedriva jordbruk som komplexa agroekosystem. Från ett utvecklingsperspektiv anses detta alternativ ha potential att inte bara bidra till hållbarhet, men även att utgöra en inkluderande utvecklingsmodell tack vare agroekologins särskilda tillämpbarhet för småbrukare med begränsad tillgång till kapital. Uganda är ett av många länder i Afrika söder om Sahara där det finns stora förhoppningar om jordbruksutvecklingens roll i fattigdomsbekämpning, ekonomisk tillväxt och förbättrad matsäkerhet. Dock uppmärksammas sällan agroekologin, trots dess löfte att kunna minska spänningen mellan utveckling och hållbarhet.
Syftet med denna avhandling är att förstå om, och hur, agroekologi har potential att utgöra en önskvärd och gångbar alternativ modell för jordbruksutveckling, samt att bidra med insikter om möjligheterna att faktiskt uppnå detta alternativ i Uganda. Detta gör jag genom en forskningsstrategi som har rötter i kritisk modernitet, kritisk realism och emancipatorisk samhällsvetenskap, och genom att kombinera fältarbete med sekundär data i en interdisciplinär ansats. Avhandlingen är strukturerad kring tre sammanlänkade uppgifter. I den första delen utvecklar jag en kritik av konventionell jordbruksmodernisering, med fokus på modellens interna begränsningar och motsägelser. Jag visar även hur en särskilt problematisk form av jordbrukspolitik har tagit form i Uganda under den nuvarande NRM-regimen. I den andra delen granskar jag de påståenden som framhåller agroekologin som en hållbar och gångbar alternativ modell för jordbruksutveckling, vilket jag finner övertygande bevis för. Vid en närmre analys av hur detta alternativ implementeras i Uganda idag, och av vem, finner jag att det framför allt används och eftersträvas av aktörer inom civilsamhället och akademiska institutioner. Dessa aktörer ser ofta agroekologin som en del av ambitionen att åstadkomma ’modernisering underifrån’, där småbrukares intressen och förutsättningar sätts i centrum. Agroekologi bidrar mer konkret genom att tillhandahålla principer för hållbart och lokalt anpassat jordbruk. Dock belyser jag även omfattande strukturella hinder för agroekologi, som kräver mer uttalat ifrågasättande av den sorts modernisering som idag sker ’uppifrån’. I den tredje delen utforskar jag därför förutsättningarna för politiskt engagemang och bredare mobilisering för agroekologi i Ugandas civilsamhälle, genom att analysera dess historiska utveckling samt rådande trender på nationell och lokal nivå.
Utöver insikter om den specifika dynamik som kännetecknar agrar förändring i Uganda gör avhandlingen två huvudsakliga bidrag: 1) den teoretiserar agroekologi och dess roll i jordbruksutveckling, och bidrar därmed till nytänkande kring modernitet inom jordbruk, och 2) den för hållbarhetsvetenskapen framåt genom att använda emancipatorisk samhällsvetenskap som ett verktyg för att uppnå fältets ambition att bedriva forskning som är både kritisk och problemlösande.
(Less)
Abstract
Agricultural modernization has massively increased global food supply, but at a high environmental cost. Today many are calling for an agricultural ‘paradigm shift’, including several mainstream institutions. But to what? In recent years, agroecology has gained credence as an alternative approach that seeks to understand and manage farms as complex agroecosystems. From a development perspective, it is argued to not only hold potential for sustainable agriculture, but also as a model for inclusive development thanks to its particular applicability in sites dominated by small-scale low-capital farming. Uganda is one of many countries in sub-Saharan Africa where much hope is currently placed in  gricultural development for poverty... (More)
Agricultural modernization has massively increased global food supply, but at a high environmental cost. Today many are calling for an agricultural ‘paradigm shift’, including several mainstream institutions. But to what? In recent years, agroecology has gained credence as an alternative approach that seeks to understand and manage farms as complex agroecosystems. From a development perspective, it is argued to not only hold potential for sustainable agriculture, but also as a model for inclusive development thanks to its particular applicability in sites dominated by small-scale low-capital farming. Uganda is one of many countries in sub-Saharan Africa where much hope is currently placed in  gricultural development for poverty alleviation, economic growth and food security. Yet despite its promise to resolve tensions between development and environmental sustainability, agroecology remains largely ignored.
The aim of this thesis is to understand if and how agroecology has potential to constitute a desirable and viable alternative pathway of agricultural development, and to provide insights about its achievability in Uganda. I do so by employing a research strategy rooted in critical modernity, critical realism and emancipatory social science, and by combining fieldwork methods and secondary material via an interdisciplinary approach. The thesis is structured around three interlinked tasks. First, I provide a critique of conventional agricultural modernization where I identify limitations and contradictions internal to this model of development, and explain the emergence and persistence of the particularly problematic form of agrarian politics in Uganda under the NRM regime. Second, I scrutinize the claim that agroecology offers a sustainable and viable model of agricultural development, and argue that there is convincing evidence for its potential to do so. When analyzing how this alternative is being implemented in Uganda today, and by whom, I find that agroecology is typically pursued by actors in civil society and academia as a form of smallholder-oriented ‘modernization from below’. Agroecology contributes by providing principles for sustainable and locally adapted agriculture. However, I also find substantial barriers to agroecology that are structural in kind, and require more overt confrontation of ‘modernization from above’. Third, therefore, I analyze the conditions for political engagement and broader mobilization for agroecology within Ugandan civil society, by looking at its historical formation and current strategies at national and local level.
Beyond insights about the specific dynamics of agrarian change in Uganda, the thesis makes two main contributions: 1) it theorizes agroecology and its role in agricultural development, thus taking steps forward towards rethinking agricultural modernity, and 2) it advances the maturing field of sustainability science by using emancipatory social science to promote its critical problem-solving agenda. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
supervisor
opponent
  • Dr., Associate Professor Osbahr, Henny, University of Reading, UK
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
agricultural sustainability, smallholder farming, neoliberal modernization, sub-Saharan Africa, Uganda, civil society, rural social movements, emancipatory social science, political ecology, sustainability science, hållbarhetsvetenskap
pages
196 pages
defense location
Ostrom, Josephson Building, Biskopsgatan 5, Lund
defense date
2018-03-21 10:15
ISBN
978-91-982201-8-6
978-91-982201-7-9
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
c6b51b12-60ad-434c-9232-3bb4034515e7
date added to LUP
2018-02-27 10:26:52
date last changed
2018-05-29 11:30:54
@phdthesis{c6b51b12-60ad-434c-9232-3bb4034515e7,
  abstract     = {Agricultural modernization has massively increased global food supply, but at a high environmental cost. Today many are calling for an agricultural ‘paradigm shift’, including several mainstream institutions. But to what? In recent years, agroecology has gained credence as an alternative approach that seeks to understand and manage farms as complex agroecosystems. From a development perspective, it is argued to not only hold potential for sustainable agriculture, but also as a model for inclusive development thanks to its particular applicability in sites dominated by small-scale low-capital farming. Uganda is one of many countries in sub-Saharan Africa where much hope is currently placed in  gricultural development for poverty alleviation, economic growth and food security. Yet despite its promise to resolve tensions between development and environmental sustainability, agroecology remains largely ignored.<br/>The aim of this thesis is to understand if and how agroecology has potential to constitute a desirable and viable alternative pathway of agricultural development, and to provide insights about its achievability in Uganda. I do so by employing a research strategy rooted in critical modernity, critical realism and emancipatory social science, and by combining fieldwork methods and secondary material via an interdisciplinary approach. The thesis is structured around three interlinked tasks. First, I provide a critique of conventional agricultural modernization where I identify limitations and contradictions internal to this model of development, and explain the emergence and persistence of the particularly problematic form of agrarian politics in Uganda under the NRM regime. Second, I scrutinize the claim that agroecology offers a sustainable and viable model of agricultural development, and argue that there is convincing evidence for its potential to do so. When analyzing how this alternative is being implemented in Uganda today, and by whom, I find that agroecology is typically pursued by actors in civil society and academia as a form of smallholder-oriented ‘modernization from below’. Agroecology contributes by providing principles for sustainable and locally adapted agriculture. However, I also find substantial barriers to agroecology that are structural in kind, and require more overt confrontation of ‘modernization from above’. Third, therefore, I analyze the conditions for political engagement and broader mobilization for agroecology within Ugandan civil society, by looking at its historical formation and current strategies at national and local level.<br/>Beyond insights about the specific dynamics of agrarian change in Uganda, the thesis makes two main contributions: 1) it theorizes agroecology and its role in agricultural development, thus taking steps forward towards rethinking agricultural modernity, and 2) it advances the maturing field of sustainability science by using emancipatory social science to promote its critical problem-solving agenda.},
  author       = {Isgren, Ellinor},
  isbn         = {978-91-982201-8-6},
  keyword      = {agricultural sustainability,smallholder farming,neoliberal modernization,sub-Saharan Africa,Uganda,civil society,rural social movements,emancipatory social science,political ecology,sustainability science,hållbarhetsvetenskap},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {02},
  pages        = {196},
  school       = {Lund University},
  title        = {Between Nature and Modernity : Agroecology as an alternative development pathway: the case of Uganda},
  year         = {2018},
}