News & events


Transformative alternatives: opportunities and conflicts in socio-technical transitions

26 June 2014
12:30 - 14:00

Presenter: Dr Valeria Arza, Dr Valeria Arza

Date:  Thursday, 26 June     Time: 12:30  – 14:00

Venue: VCRs, Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban


Argentinean agriculture relies on capital-intensive commodity production for world markets. A challenge for this socio-technical system is to simultaneously deliver improved economic, social and environmental outcomes. Although land productivity has increased, it has done so at the expense of rural displacement, land concentration, environmental degradation and impoverished rural livelihoods.

These conflicts are noted by policy makers, and alternative practices have been promoted that seek to add greater value at origin, enhance inclusion and employment and improve environmental sustainability. Alternative practices are not expected to replace the established system, because commodity crop production is an important source of foreign currency and income. The expectation is that both dominant and alternative production systems could be complementary, thereby improving the overall environmental and social sustainability of agricultural production.
We discuss the possibilities that these alternative models of agricultural production can co-exist, drawing from the literature on socio-technical transitions, which analyses how alternative practices can emerge, consolidate and diffuse to produce structural changes in socio-technical systems. We illustrate our arguments from case-study information on cotton production in Argentina. Capital-intensive production practices do not suit small farming and as a consequence, the profitability gap between commercial and family farmers has widened, which in turn has increased concentration and displaced farmers to nearby towns.

There also exist alternative cotton production practices for small farmers, based on agro-ecological principles, which simultaneously pursue environmental, social and economic goals. We analyse the emergence of those alternative practices in order to highlight issues of conflict and tension that have emerged as they attempt to co-exist with established cotton production systems.

The seminar may be attended in Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban

RSVP by 24 June
Cape Town: Ray Adams (021) 466 7936,  12th Floor, Plein Park Building, Plein Street, Cape Town
Durban: Ridhwaan Khan (031) 242 5400,   1st Floor, 750 Francois Road, Ntuthuko Junction, Pods 5 and 6, Cato Manor
Pretoria: Arlene Grossberg (012) 302 2811,  1st  Floor, HSRC Building, 134 Pretorius Street, Pretoria