Literature on the global agrifood system largely overlooks the role of reclamation of arid and semi-arid lands in the industrialization of horticulture (fruits, vegetables, and ornamentals) worldwide in the neoliberal period. Why has the development and expansion of industrial horticulture synchronized with “greening the desert” policies and narratives? Dixon's article addresses this question with the concept of desert frontier, which is developed through a case study of industrial horticulture production in Egypt's arid regions and through an analysis of the relations between nature and society. The desert frontier in Egypt demonstrates that the socioecological relations that constitute industrial horticulture have necessitated transformations in farm organization and on-farm practice toward an increasingly coercive and capital-intensive set of agritechnologies and protocols to manage the volatility of industrial agriculture (from monocultures, perpetual genetic erosion, cropping intensification, and so on). The movement of agroexport farms into arid regions has been part of these processes of biosecuritization. This analysis of the socioecological conditions of expanded commodity production within the global food system or corporate food regime problematizes reemerging “greening the desert” narratives that parade the latest greening technical feats as a solution to securing food production in a warming planet.
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Marion Dixon; Plastics and Agriculture in the Desert Frontier. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 1 May 2017; 37 (1): 86–102. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/1089201x-3821321
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