Kharai camel breed of Indus Delta. They can swim up to 10 nautical miles to reach mangroves.

Farming and Food – Communities vs the corporations

Sun is the Source of Energy for us

The basic source of food (energy) is the sun, the plants, bacteria, algae, and other (known and known creatures) synthesize energy by the mechanism of photosynthesis. The only source of energy for photosynthesis is the sun. Water and carbon dioxide (CO2) are the main molecules used for the synthesis of glucose (chemical energy molecule). Glucose is the only chemical energy consumable in the metabolism of living organisms.

Zygophyllum qatarense is an important but reselient plant of the bush
The camels are grazing on Zygophyllum qatarense in Alain, Abdu Dhabi

The journey of life started from an inorganized tiny cell and evolved/developed further and further, making many types of many organisms. I can’t go into the details of that process here.

Natural process and evolution

Nature got richer and richer, and the microorganisms increased and diversified their microbiome (detritivores) to break down the chemical substances and return back to the soil, this cycle fabricated a delicate balance in nature. The migratory animals played (and still play) a very crucial role in consuming the flora, recycling fibers into important organic matter, and providing food for the soil microbiome. The herbivores also distribute nitrogen and seed to further enrich the land. Some of those animals, especially large herbivores were domesticated in modern human history (10 to 12 thousands year before) and used for different purposes but their migratory and recycling role remained intact.

Beuragh Sheep Breed
Mariwal sheep grazing in grasslands of Luni area Loralai

Natural ecosystems are composed of plants, animals, and microbes that circulate energy and nutrients in a seamless circular fashion, with plants having the role of absorbing solar energy by photosynthesis and using it to build chemical substances that nourish animals that dissipate the nutrients (as manure) and disperse the seeds of plants.

Food and US

Food (fuel) is a very important part of human survival. In evolution history, humans had lived in the rich habitats of trees and other flora (Eden), consuming fruits (as food) and leaves & twigs (for keeping digestion in balance). From solely depending on fruits, humans later learned to gather (more searching and walking for food like tubers, flowers, seeds, etc), hunt, cropping, and farm (pastoralism) chronologically.

Native sheep breed of Balochistan Pakistan
Native livestock breeds are highly resilient and sustain their productivity in limited resources

In recent times, ultramodern farming came into existence, mainly fabricated by corporations to produce more food in a shorter time while minimizing the impacts of nature on production systems. The main vision of corporations is to transform natural resources into materials and make money, and then more money, usually, nature suffers very negatively.

Corporate vs Community Agriculture -Where did the problem start?

Corporate industries have been involved, the profit is the only driver to choose the direction and destination of future agriculture. Strengthening communities like herding and farming communities can resist this negative exercise and can save human health and the environment. Corporate agriculture can produce a bulk of food in a shorter time but is deficient in the body’s required nutrients and heavy losses to genetic resources and the environment.

Camel farming for milk is a new emerging fact
Camel farming for milk is a new emerging fact. We should avoid copying the cow model into the camel model

In modern farming systems (in a broader sense corporate), animals have been turned from moving assets into fixed input-output machines while plants are moved around the world to feed them, reversing the natural order of things. Also, the role of animals as nutrient providers for the soil microbiome (food for detritivores) is shrunken and depleting further.

To replace the role of herbivores’ manure, chemical fertilizers are introduced to enhance productivity but this practice also deteriorated the soil health and many other consequences are also occurring like the rivers’ beds and marine ecosystem.

In the corporate system, the plants and animal genetic resources are bred with a pierce selection (few traits with a narrow understanding), only productivity in a shorter time is considered as the best profitable breeding goal. This phenomenon leads to shedding the genetic characteristics of the disease & drought tolerance, and adaptation to climatic challenges. To compensate for the above-mentioned weaknesses, pesticides, weedicides, and other chemical solutions are placed which have many negative impacts on the food systems, natural resources, and the environment.

Animals are not input-output machines

The problem with modern agriculture is that crop cultivation and animal husbandry are seen as separate domains, necessitating enormous amounts of fossil fuels to replace the function of animals. Moreover, animals have been turned from moving assets into fixed input-output machines while plants are moved around the world to feed them, reversing the natural order of things.

Animal science needs to shift from its obsession with ‘resource use efficiency‘ to adopt the concept of Planetary Boundaries, optimally deploying animals to upcycle naturally available plant mass and crop by-products into human digestible food.

Herding cultures know how to do this; they have been doing it for almost 10,000 – 12,000 years, but since the colonial era they have been subject to sedentarization and repression which continues until today. According to FAO, a small part of the world (one-third of land) is capable of cropping. In the larger part of the world, food can only be produced by means of moving and grazing livestock that upcycles native vegetation into human-digestible food and returns nutrients to the soil.

In the modern era, we need special education to understand nature again – Perspectives of food production

We have to understand the role of animals in planetary ecology. We have to redefine the role of animals in food systems, soil fertility, and broader ecological importance. We have to re-visit our paradigm of agriculture, especially animal science from ‘resource use efficiency’ to accepting the need for remaining within planetary boundaries which are set by the availability of natural vegetation. and crop-byproducts that can be upcycled by livestock.

The planetary boundary (PB) concept, introduced in 2009, aimed to define the environmental limits within which humanity can safely operate. This approach has proved influential in global sustainability policy development. Ilse Kohler Rollefson

Animal welfare in the true sense

We have to treat farm animals as responsive living souls, we have the responsibility to care for and create cruelty-free living conditions that allow them to be social beings, move and have mental stimulation. The happy and moving animals have times better products than the stressful animals.

Way forward

I know there are serious questions as; to if community agriculture can feed the ever-increasing human population. Is corporate agriculture really that dangerous? I think we really need to start a dialogue on this issue, a serious and meaningful dialogue. The government and other stakeholders must start supporting the farming communities and help them in the conservation and management of the native genetic resources along with providing support in marketing and financial services. I’m very sure that if we support the community farming systems and enhance food production, it will really help our health and soil health. We just do not need food but healthy and quality food which only can come from the community farming system.


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