Panama disease and contract farming in the Philippines: Towards a political ecology of risk

Jaye De La Cruz*, Kees Jansen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Despite the vast research on contract farming by agrarian scholars, little is known about interactions between biological risks and the social–political effects of contracts. This study analysed contract farming arrangements in the export banana industry in the Philippines amidst an expanding epidemic of Panama disease. We developed a political ecology of risk approach to investigate how ideas about technological and biological risks are influenced by contractual arrangements, and we borrowed from Cultural Theory the insight that risk and blame are connected concepts, always political, and disadvantage marginalized groups through disproportionate risk burdens. Data collection involved the study of contracts, interviews with decision-makers, and focus group discussions with agrarian cooperatives. The views of both large corporations as well as organized smallholders were recorded. We found that the former contractually compel the latter to bear the burden of the disease, while blaming them for its spread. Risk decisions were embedded in the dynamics of agrarian social relationships, and economic and political arrangements between actors influenced possibilities and limitations for disease control. We argue that the contractual stipulations, in concert with blaming processes, create a discursive environment that both allow inequitable relations to remain unquestioned, and constrain possibilities for control of Panama disease.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-266
JournalJournal of Agrarian Change
Volume18
Issue number2
Early online date7 Nov 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018

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