Finding the Truly Green Revolution: An enthnographic look at the development of sustainable agriculture in Mae Ta, Thailand

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Carol Carpenter
Essay Abstract: 
In the 1970s, rural areas of developing countries experienced the Green Revolution, which promised to end world hunger through seeds that resisted disease and produced high yields of crops. This revolution, however, brought cycles of debt, disease, exhaustion, and corruption. High yielding seeds required extra inputs of fertilizers and pesticides to maintain crop output, and depleted the soils in which they were sowed. Farmers standing downwind of sprays and washes developed rashes and cancers. Both the agricultural and medical problems associated with the Green Revolution underscore the importance of alternative strategies in farming. The places where communities have transitioned out of this conventional agriculture to more sustainable practices provide an interesting space for social analysis. To move from conventional agriculture to sustainable agriculture is as much a social process as it is an agrarian one. I examine the social requirements for transitioning to sustainable agriculture and argue that three specific components are needed for this social change to ensue: ecological consciousness, formal social structures, and human agency. The focus of this thesis will be to understand the forces that made agricultural sustainability a concern for farmers in Mae Ta, Thailand and how they responded.