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Global South Powers in Transition

A Comparative Analysis of Mexico and South Africa


Edited By Deon Geldenhuys and Humberto González

Employing a novel collaborative transnational methodology, this ground-breaking book presents the first comprehensive and systematic comparison of Mexico and South Africa. Although geographically, historically and diplomatically far apart, Mexico and South Africa are ambitious and influential powers in the Global South and also experience wide-ranging domestic transitions. A binational team of 26 researchers from the two countries, all specialists in their respective disciplines, probe the transitions that Mexico and South Africa are undergoing in areas such as socio-cultural diversity, domestic politics, economic development, labour dynamics, social and territorial inequality, food security, crime and violence, and foreign relations. The detailed country studies allow the authors to identify striking similarities but also profound differences between the two societies. In so doing, the book helps to explain Mexico and South Africa to each other but also to the world at large.

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CHAPTER 7 Agricultural and food vulnerability



Agricultural and food vulnerability

General introduction

Humberto González, Alejandro Macías-Macías and Johan Willemse

The globalisation of the agri-food sectors in Mexico and South Africa is taking place in the context of a tight integration of their economies into the world economy. This process has implied an economic and social restructuring of the agri-food system in each of the two countries, conducted through agreements concluded with other nations. At the multilateral level reference can be made to GATT, NAFTA and BRICS (the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa grouping), whereas the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) adopted by the US is designed to promote sub-Saharan Africa’s integration into the global economy. These initiatives limit the autonomy of nation-states to define national agricultural policies and to attain the goal of a sustainable production of sufficient food accessible to the whole population.

Three principal aspects of this national restructuring will be examined. The first is a marked differentiation of agriculture into, on the one hand, small-scale rural production, much affected by the need to compete in new conditions marked by a reduction in assistance and subsidies from the state; and on the other, commercial agri-industrial production focusing on crops and livestock with the greatest commercial value in domestic and foreign markets without considering the environmental costs. The second matter relates to a greater dependence of national farmers on technology, finance and sales offered to them by...

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