Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Future scenarios of the modernized agriculture and a Sraffian framework for the “return of techniques” scenario

Sortino, Antonio and Chang Ting Fa, Margherita and Piccinini, Livio Clemente (2008): Future scenarios of the modernized agriculture and a Sraffian framework for the “return of techniques” scenario. Forthcoming in:


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Rural areas in Europe are characterized by several agricultural models and paths. We can schematically divide them in two typologies of agriculture: the modernized and the traditional agriculture. The first typology is characterized by agricultural techniques of production pervaded by industrial (or modernized) elements and values. It is based on the most fertile soils of the European rural areas. The modernized agriculture has also reached elevated levels of productivity but it lacks in socio-environmental terms (i.e. biodiversity losses). The traditional agriculture, instead, has his base on the less favored areas and it is an unintentional keeper of traditional and virtuous techniques and elements (i.e. crop rotation and local genetic resources). It is such because it does not accept exogenous elements (i.e. mountainous agriculture where mechanization is applied with low efficiency/effectiveness) and it has therefore remained excluded from the processes of industrialization. The weak point of traditional agriculture, which has caused its decline, is the economic inefficiency. It is however an unknowing producer of positive externalities (i.e. safe food, local genetic resources, landscape). In our paper we try to assess the hypothesis of the return of traditional elements and techniques in the modernized agriculture. In order to analyze the problem, we shall introduce the theoretical framework of the “re-switching of techniques” from the neo-ricardian theory (Sraffa 1960). Sraffa, within the “re-switching” framework, pointed out that a low-capital-intensive technique may be competitive both at a relatively low and high rate of profit. Finally, after we have shown two examples of economic models of “re-switching of techniques”, we shall build an example of “re-switching” for the short period and an original example with multiple-switching points.

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