1st Edition

How the World Hunger Problem Was not Solved

By Christian Gerlach Copyright 2024
    626 Pages
    by Routledge

    The world food crisis (1972–1975) gave rise to new development concepts. To eradicate world hunger, small peasants were supposed to use ‘modern’ inputs like high-yielding seeds, fertilizer, pesticides and irrigation. This would turn subsistence producers into business owners, transform rural areas, invigorate national economies and the crisis-stricken world economy and thus stabilize capitalism.

    Together with an in-depth account of the world food crisis, this book analyses how this global scheme largely failed. It shows its diverse initiators, their reasoning and motives, its political breakthrough, the degrees to which it was implemented globally and nationally in the following decades and its socioeconomic effects in rural areas. Despite internationally coordinated policies and coercive means, the scheme failed on all levels: situation analysis, design, policies, incapable institutions (including big business), implementation and peasants’ responses. Selective realization in certain regions and for certain crops and the appropriation of funds by local elites often aggravated inequality and hunger. Case studies are about Bangladesh, Indonesia, Tanzania and Mali. The book shows limits to global social engineering, imperialism and state control.

    It is aimed at students, scholars, activists and non-specialists interested in development and the world food problem.

    The Open Access version of this book, available at http://www.taylorfrancis.com, has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND) 4.0 license.

    1 Introduction                                                                                                                          


    The global level

    2 The world food crisis, 1972-1975                                                                                  

    3 A global wave of famines                                                                                   

    4 The small peasant approach to combatting hunger and poverty:

        ideas and breakthrough                                                                                               

    5 Degrees of implementation: global perspectives                                                       

    6 Unexpected limits to growth: the spread of capital and technology           


    Case studies

    7 Bangladesh: impoverishment, hunger and credit                                                      

    8 Indonesia: limits to farming intensification and poverty alleviation                         

    9 Tanzania: impoverishment after enforced villagization                                            

    10 Mali: changes in the neglected drylands                                                                   


    General observations

    11 Comparing the case studies                                                                                        

    12 Projections and predictions: imaginations of the future                                          

    13 An "effective utilization of women"                                                                             

    14 The bigger picture                                                                                                         


    Christian Gerlach is Professor of History at the University of Bern. His fields of research are mass violence, war and the history of agriculture, food, hunger and development. Among his earlier books is Extremely Violent Societies: Mass Violence in the Twentieth Century World (2010).