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HP02 - The political economy of contract farming in low- and middle-income countries: New dynamics and approaches

Convened by Caroline Hambloch (Humboldt University Berlin, Germany), Helena Pérez Niño (Institute of Social Studies, The Netherlands), Mark Vicol (Wageningen University), Niels Fold (University of Copenhagen), Sudha Narayanan (IFPRI)

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Contract farming in low- and middle-income countries has received renewed interest in academic and policy debates as an institutional mechanism to link ‘poor’ farmers to markets. Understanding the expansion of contract farming within the broader context of the restructuring of the global agri-food system and as an expression of the unevenness of power relations within that has led to important contributions on the role of contract farming in relation to social differentiation, precarity, accelerated and/or disguised proletarianization, capitalist penetration of the countryside, plantations and land rushes, development interventions, ideological contestations, and rural struggles and movements.

This panel welcomes contributions from critical social science perspectives, which may address one or more of the following topics:

  • The interaction between precarity and social differentiation in contract farming across households, local and national levels;
  • Labor exploitation dynamics in contract farming arrangements within and between households with particular emphasis on gender, class and generational dynamics;
  • The politics of resistance, contract farmer agency and political struggles from below;
  • Contract farming as a development intervention and conflicts and resistance thereof;
  • The relationship between contract farming and different land regimes, including land ‘grabbing’;
  • The relationship between contract farming outgrower schemes and plantations;
  • Contract farming, agricultural intensification and the climate crisis;
  • The politics of the contract itself, enforcement and contract violations from a critical legal studies perspective.

The panel welcomes both single case or comparative contract farming studies. The panel is paper-based. Participants will be requested to share their papers in advance with the other panelists. Where possible, papers will be considered for submission to a special issue or edited book.