The project investigates asymmetries of power relations and policy formulations that give rise to corporate concentration in livestock industries using the case study of poultry.
Industrial production of broiler chicken and eggs is seen as an answer to persistent malnutrition and protein requirements in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) amidst urbanisation, economic growth, and dietary transition. Corporate contract farming or industrialised integrated production are becoming dominant forms of meeting such demands. This guidance memo aims to investigate asymmetries of power relations and policy formulations that give rise to corporate concentration in livestock industries using the case study of poultry. In particular we identify the role of global finance and government policy interventions that are significant in shaping highly industrialising poultry production systems. Evidence especially for the role of global finance has been limited so far, due to a lack of transparency from corporate firms. We hope to provide a critical analytical framework to producing evidence that will enable frontline investigators to shed light on the power-sharing practices between international and domestic private and public capital that support industrial production systems and their negative externalities. These include dispossessing farmers through land grabs or control, creating breeding grounds for highly pathogenic diseases, making farmers susceptible to processes of globalisation that exclude or marginalise them in production networks increasingly dominated by rent-seeking corporate actors, exacerbating inequalities of animal source protein access, and an increasing burden of zoonosis on producer countries.
The project generates an analytical framework to research economic and global financial drivers of corporate expansion and concentration of industrialised livestock production systems in LMICs. The framework is followed by an overview of the economic organisation of the global poultry industry and a case study of how global finance and corporate consolidation is linked with the Indian poultry industry. Through the Indian case study, the project examines how corporate concentration and public policies shape the Indian poultry industry into vertically integrated broiler production systems.
The analytical framework and evidence generated will deepen our understanding of pathways through which circuits of capital produce industrial livestock production systems and their potential negative externalities. Taking India as example, the project illustrates how global capital articulates with domestic economies, integrating local commodity chains into global production networks and thus rendering local actors vulnerable to the processes of globalisation and intensification. Additionally, it has pointed to how these processes of globalisation and intensification correlate with consumption practices and regulatory oversight. The analytical framework can be used to generate evidence to be utilised by researchers, frontline persons and local governments and policymakers to create sustainable livestock production systems as it will help to identify and address power imbalances in a financialised livestock industry by demonstrating existing spheres of influences and political clientelism between IFIs, LMIC governments, multinational firms and domestic agribusinesses.