Searching for family farming in Argentina: chronicles of a technological innovation between two worlds


This paper proposes a contribution to the analysis of the processes that accompany the increasing fragmentation of agricultural worlds between contrasting models of development. To this end, we examine an area that has until now attracted little attention in this respect, that of the scientific and technological actors involved; we also look at original mechanisms which aim to create intersections between models of development. The paper is based on research carried out in Argentina, a country where there are two major contrasting models of development, embodied by the notions of agribusiness and family farming. We analyse the trajectory of a technological innovation in the field of machinery, based on the determination of agronomists and manufacturers to adapt agribusiness technologies to the needs of small family farmers. We study the attempts at problematisation and interessement that they make in relation to this public and its accompanying scientific and technical actors. These dynamics reveal contrasting approaches to innovation, technology and agricultural development. They also demonstrate the profound misunderstanding that exists between these two heterogeneous worlds.

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  1. 1.

    On this notion of model, see also (Godin 2015) on “innovation models”.

  2. 2.

    Some of these organisations did not hesitate to denounce an attempt to control and instrumentalise their action, dedicated until then to defending the so-called peasant or indigenous farming, for political and electoral purposes (Schiavoni 2010; Craviotti 2014).

  3. 3.

    Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria.

  4. 4.

    This research was funded in part by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (France), as part of the SAGE project (Sécurité Alimentaire: la globalisation d’un problème public), ANR-13-JSH1-0008, and by INTA as part of the project “Procesos socio-técnicos de innovación en los territorios—Programa Nacional para el desarrollo y la sustentabilidad de los territorios”.

  5. 5.

    It is worth mentioning that we will not be discussing the theoretical or analytical pertinence of these concepts; instead we will use them instrumentally, to serve our objective which consists in clarifying a relatively unexplored facet of the dynamics of coexistence in agriculture.

  6. 6.

    Note that one specificity of INTA is that it has its own agricultural research and development departments, whereas in many countries these are often confined to separate institutions.

  7. 7.

    This process reached its peak in 2014, a year declared by the FAO to be “International Family farming year”, with numerous political and scientific events being organised in Argentina around this theme.

  8. 8.

    Regarding debates on this notion, and on the distinction made with that of food security, see (Bernstein 2014, Jansen 2014).

  9. 9.

    On the population of peri-urban market gardeners, often Bolivian immigrants, and on their role in supplying cities such as Buenos Aires, see Le Gall (2015).


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Correspondence to Frédéric Goulet.

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Goulet, F., Giordano, G. Searching for family farming in Argentina: chronicles of a technological innovation between two worlds. Rev Agric Food Environ Stud 98, 233–253 (2017).

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  • Innovation
  • Science and technology
  • Agricultural machinery
  • Family farming
  • Argentina