kaufman - Creating Vibrant Communities through Ecologically...

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Creating Vibrant Communities through Ecologically Sound Food Production Alex Kaufman, PHD Candidate, Faculty of Environment and Resource Study, Mahidol University, lex_int@yahoo.com Theme: Social Transformation Research Domain: Ecological Diversity and Resilience Abstract The unbridled pursuit of economic growth through industrialization forces rural dwellers to overexploit natural resources as a means of paying for the basic requisites, once freely available in the community. The cost of this overexploitation of the land is the degraded capacity to provide essential natural services, namely healthy food and clean water to both rural and urban communities. In effect, rural areas serve as a ‘supermarket’ which provides nourishment for the inhabitants of the city and fuels industry. Furthermore, boosting food production through commercially intensive agriculture, aquaculture and livestock rearing creates a loss of community identity, culture and traditional livelihoods. The mending of this rural-urban divide requires holistic methodologies based in eco-agriculture, protecting biodiversity and the development of integrated bioregions. This paper critically examines the impacts of modern food production on ecosystem services and quality of life in rural and urban areas. Introduction The current economic paradigm prescribes growth based development as the main instrument to bring billions out of poverty and hunger in developing countries. In rural communities the right to food production is essential to livelihoods and quality of life. Food production and preparation serves critical economic, spiritual, and cultural functions in Asian society. There are a growing number of non-governmental organizations responding to the inequities of the global food trade through the support of community-based agriculture programs. However, these outside efforts to assist rural communities often clash with the objectives of government initiatives and agro-industry. At a governmental level, the countries of Bhutan and Thailand have implemented policies which boldly respond to the impacts of globalization on local food production. These countries have recognized that maintaining rural livelihoods requires a localized form of sustainable economic development. His Majesty King Jigme Singye Wangchuk of Bhutan initiated the policy of “Gross National Happiness” as a means to
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improve quality of life through equitable socio-economic growth, preservation of culture, and environmental protection [1]. King Bhumidol Adulyadej launched the “Sufficiency Economy Philosophy” to promote moderation, self-sufficiency and a reasonable form of economic development in Thailand [2]. These two policy initiatives constitute a noteworthy response to the failure of Western models to improve the well-being of rural inhabitants. Modern economic development in its current form creates a loss of community identity,
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This note was uploaded on 10/24/2011 for the course UNIV 2201 taught by Professor Staff during the Fall '08 term at University of Georgia Athens.

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kaufman - Creating Vibrant Communities through Ecologically...

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