Home  |  About Us  |  Articles  |  Contact   

From Fifth World agriculture to Fifth World waste management

Cyberterra, 27 February 2010 — Fifth World agriculture is essentially do-it-yourself or DIY agriculture. This kind of agriculture was first formally defined in my book, The Fifth World: Micronationalism on Steroids:

What kind of agriculture is characteristic of the Fifth World? Organic agriculture is definitely at least a part of it, since there is nothing industrial in scale about the Fifth World, and thus industrial scale farming cannot be practised... Fifth World farming is more about meeting organic standards the old-fashioned way, by virtually removing all chemical pesticides and fertilizers, but unlike Fourth World farming, it is do-it-yourself farming, so the producer(s) and the consumer(s) are the same person(s).

According to my book, Fifth World agriculture should not to be confused with Fourth World agriculture, which is the typical "certified organic" agriculture practiced today. As my book notes:

[O]rganic agricultural methods are internationally regulated and legally enforced by many nations, based in large part on the standards set by the IFOAM [International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements]. Also, organic food producers are often pressured into seeking organic certification, and even some of the staunchest opponents of chemical-based farming and factory farming practices oppose formal certification, because they view regulatory certification as a potential barrier to entry for small producers, who are often burdened with increased costs, paperwork, and bureaucracy.

It['s] therefore clear that certified organic farming is heavily regulated, and generally Fourth World in scale and philosophy more than Fifth World.

There's nothing wrong with professional farmers, and there is especially nothing wrong with professional farmers dedicated to certified organic agriculture. There are, however, limits to Fourth World agriculture. As Michael Pollan points to in his book, The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, you cannot grow food sustainably entirely through a Fourth World agricultural model. Fourth World agriculture is a greener form of agriculture, without doubt, but an exclusive dependence on this kind of agricultural model inevitably leads to another kind of industrial scale agriculture, since fewer and fewer people are actually doing any farming at all in a Fourth World agricultural model.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) isn't a complete solution to the problem either. "Community Supported Agriculture consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community's farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production. Typically, members or 'share-holders' of the farm or garden pledge in advance to cover the anticipated costs of the farm operation and farmer's salary. In return, they receive shares in the farm's bounty throughout the growing season, as well as satisfaction gained from reconnecting to the land and participating directly in food production. Members also share in the risks of farming, including poor harvests due to unfavorable weather or pests. By direct sales to community members, who have provided the farmer with working capital in advance, growers receive better prices for their crops, gain some financial security, and are relieved of much of the burden of marketing."[1] Many supporters of sustainable farming support CSA, and this is a good trend. However, CSA is not a permanent solution to the problem of unsustainable or industrial scale farming. There simply aren't enough farmers to have a small, local, and organic farm everywhere. The only solution to the plague of industrial agriculture, is simply a lot more people have to grow food, both for sale and at home. A lot more people have to support local and non-local professional certified organic farmers through a Fifth World agricultural model. People are simply going to have to take some responsibility for feeding themselves if we are to reduce our carbon footprint in any significant way. As the thoughtful Eric A. Woods puts it, "[people] might have to encourage their children to grow up to be farmers. And they might have to imagine a world in which feeding oneself is [neither] a work of magic [nor] a work of industry, but simply the ordinary job that ordinary people have been doing for thousands of years."[2]

Italians appear to be naturals as far as Fifth World agriculture is concerned.

According to an article by RAI in Italian,[3] the tendency of Italians to practice farming as a hobby is a growing one, according to a first report on hobby farmers presented to the Fieragricola fair of Verona. The global economic crisis is pushing many Italians to rediscover the goodness and convenience of the products of their garden.

Most Italians are farmers by hobby, yet as owners of an average of 2.5 acres (1 hectares) of land, they are able to produce enough olive oil and wine to label it, sell it, and even donate it to friends.

If Italians appear to be avant-garde as pioneers of Fifth World agriculture, Belgians appear to be pioneering what can be best defined as Fifth World waste management techniques. Residents of a Belgian town are now being offered chickens as part of a campaign to reduce household waste:

Belgium offers chickens to waste-cutting households

Belgians seem to be at least starting a form of DIY waste management, and these trends are exciting!