Smallholders, Householders by Robert McC. Netting

Smallholders, Householders: Farm Families and the Ecology of Intensive, Sustainable Agriculture, Robert McC. Netting (Stanford University Press, 1993)

This timely and convincing book challenges the myth that only modern, large-scale, mechanized, scientific agriculture can provide the food needed for the world’s rapidly growing population.

It is a detailed and innovative analysis of the agricultural efficiency and conservation of resources practiced around the world by smallholders – farmers who practice intensive, permanent, diversified agriculture on relatively small farms in areas of dense population.

Using dozens of ethnographic examples from Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas, the author demonstrates that there are significant, fundamental commonalities among smallholder cultures.

He argues that smallholder farming, wherever it takes place, is a viable alternative to today’s dominant idea of industrial agriculture, with its dependence on fossil fuels, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides.

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