Fifth in a series on tackling poverty while protecting the environment. Read the intro.
In a fertile green valley between the mountains of northeastern Thailand lies a farm town of about 300 households – Ban Umung. People leave their doors open, and children run from house to house, often joining other families for meals. Residents have more than enough to eat, and motorbikes, rudimentary tractors, and smartphones are widespread.
Across the world, there are more than 550 million small farmers, and most live in communities on the cusp of modernization, like Ban Umung. The path these communities follow will have a big impact on the global climate. Farming villages play a crucial role in the economic transformation that countries pass through as they move out of poverty. Countries start this economic metamorphosis with the majority of their populations working as farmers, and come out the other side with just a few farmers feeding everyone else.
If places like Ban Umung proceed along the traditional path, their farms will consolidate, grow larger, become more efficient, and the green... Read more