|Food from Dryland Gardens - An Ecological, Nutritional, and Social Approach to Small Scale Household Food Production (CPFE, 1991)|
|Part I - Gardens as a development strategy|
|3. Gardens, economics, and marketing|
The ability to read critically and recognize authors assumptions is important when reading any book, including those on economics. Sometimes basic assumptions are not stated, even though the logic of the books whole argument is based on them. Questioning those assumptions can improve the readers understanding of the authors argument. Questioning assumptions and exploring more realistic or desirable alternatives is an important step in changing and improving our lives and the world.
Resources about economics can often be divided into two categories: those that look at macroeconomics on the level of regions, nations, and even the world; and those that focus on microeconomics at the level of the household or community. While both perspectives are useful, the microeconomic approach is most appropriate for the topics addressed by this book. However, we feel that it is essential to explore the relationship between these two levels of economic activity when trying to understand how local gardens and markets work.
A standard, well-written text for the macroeconomic perspective in Third World development that is firmly based on conventional economic assumptions is Economic Development in the Third World (Todaro 1985). Several books, for example, those by Wallerstein (1974) and Worsley (1984) focus on the effect of the conventional model on the Third World especially as a vehicle for furthering colonial and neocolonial agendas.
Representing the emerging discipline of ecological economics, Daly and Cobb (1989) state that the high social and environmental costs of conventional economics, also referred to as neoclassical economics, make this perspective dangerously destructive and unsustainable. Instead the authors propose a new direction for economics based on the ecological reality of our finite resources and more humane priorities concerning social responsibility. Schumakers Small is Beautiful (1973) is a classic work that advocates making the fulfillment of the basic needs of the majority the central focus of economic activities and policy. The small is beautiful approach is based on many of the same recommendations made by Mahatma Ghandi earlier this century in India. These include decentralization of decision making and production and the support of many small-scale, local industries.
One of the best attempts at understanding economics from the perspective of small-scale agriculturalists in the Third World is Levi and Havinden (1982). They demonstrate why many of the assumptions of Western economics are not appropriate for the situation of African farmers. Brownrigg (1985) contains a review of some economic analyses of home gardens.