Organic Farming as an Art of Not Being Governed
Some Lessons from the Philippines and Japan
Toru Nakanishi, D. Econ.
Department of Social and International Studies
The University of Tokyo
The purpose of this presentation is to clarify the proposition that “the weak” can enjoy freedom, autonomous self-governance and environmental conservation by ingeniously utilizing a small-scale but independent and imperfect closed economy, especially in the islands societies. In the case studies, we explore strategic behaviors in organic farming in the Philippines and Japan. Here, we will pay attentions to the fact that organic farming methods follow the principle of small quantity but large variety, referring the framework of “escape society” in "Zo-mia" discussed by James C. Scott (2009).
Poverty alleviation becomes the highest target for the donors today, since Millennium Goals were declared. Indeed, the standard of the livings for the poor in the Philippines has improved according to the official data. The fact that absolute poverty has dramatically reduced shows that the poverty issue is reaching a new stage where poverty has only relative meanings especially in the Southeast Asia setting. It is often said, however, that globalization may not offer favorable opportunities for “the weak” in the developing countries. It may invite an irreversible crisis to them in the future.
During the Cold War (1945-89), the interests for both Blocs were to gain the hegemony by the increase of the number of the developing countries which belong to their own Bloc. It means that the assistances to “the state” (the apothanasia of dictatorship and the vested interest groups) has priority over those to “the weak” (poverty reduction). Such situations could have invited the deterioration of the standard of the living for “the weak” through the naïve exploitation by multi-national corporations. We can find here the reason why the so-called dependency theory was in full flourish during the same period.
After the end of the Cold War, however, the political conflicts between two Blocs transformed to the market competition among the global corporations. Their interest on the developing countries has shifted from “the state” as a political tool to “the weak” as a market. It is important to note that the assistance to “the weak” (CSR: Corporate Social Responsibility) to some extent is an important strategy for the global corporation, which can contribute to the increase of profits utilizing market discrimination in the technical terms in Economics. The increase of the income of “the weak” can contribute to market cultivation as advertising their products on “the weak” can do. Such effects may be cumulative because the increase of the income of “the weak” is a kind of public goods among the global corporation. Since “the weak” are “markets” for the global corporation, they cannot be “the poor.” Therefore, it can be said that poverty reduction is a cunningly sophisticated strategy which ingeniously tames “the weak” to make profit from them by guaranteeing the improvement of the standard of living for “the weak” to some extent.
Nowadays, there are no development economists who deny the assistance to the developing countries. The hot issue in development economics is, however, to design the efficient implementation of the assistance using the analytical tools in the experimental economics rather than the content of the assistance itself. These situations imply the possibilities that the developing countries confront the new crisis or the governance by the global corporation which they have never experienced. This is a crisis because the invisible third parties intervene the governance of the societies in the developing countries.
This crisis may be especially profound in the rural areas. The simplification by conventional agriculture based on F1 (first filial generation) seeds or GM (genetically modified) seeds can erode the bio-diversification the organic agriculture based on indigenous seeds or heirloom varieties have conserved. My concern is the fact that there have been so many people who have local knowledge on the arts of not being governed by “the state” or the global corporations. They have not raise the standard of revolt to “the state” or the global corporations but have kept the subtle relationships with them. They do not have created the autarky in their locality, but have fostered and developed the local knowledge to “escape” from the direct or indirect exploitation by “the state” or the global corporations while often utilizing rich resources in the counter-parts.
The same logic in such ingenious strategies can be found in the way of life for “the hill people” in "Zomia." In the presentation, in the global system, the way of life for “the weak” based on the imperfect closed society can be one of the important counter strategies for them based on some illustrations in organic farming in the Philippines and Japan.
Birth Date: August 1, 1958
1982 Graduated from Faculty of Economics, Sophia University
1989 Graduated from Graduate School of Economics, University of Tokyo
1989 Research Associate, International University of Japan
1991 Associate Professor, Faculty of Economics, Hokkaido University
1993 Associate Professor, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo
2001 Profesor, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Tokyo
“The Labour Market in the Urban Informal Sector: The Case of the Philippines”，The Developing Economies, Vol.28, No.3，Institute of Developing Economies, 1990.
Economics of Slum, University of Tokyo Press, 1991 (in Japanese)
“Comparative Study on Informal Labor Markets in Urbanization Process,” Developing Economies, vol.34, no.4., 1996.
Metro Manila: In Search of a Sustainable Future, with Tatsuo Omachi and Emerlinda R. Ramon, University of the Philippine Press, 2002.
“Hidden Community Development among the Urban Poor: Informal Settlers in Metro Manila,” Policy and Society, vol. 25 no.4., 2006.
"Organic Agriculture: Alternative Strategy for Sustainable Development," International and Social Studies, University of Tokyo, vol.61., pp.99-121, 2012. (in Japanese)