A tsunami-sized wave of corporate megamergers sweeping the agrochemical industry has the potential to reshape the landscape of global farming and food production.
If approved, the multibillion dollar mergers between five of the "Big Six" chemical companies would, by some estimates, place roughly 60 percent of the world's commercial seed and pesticide supply into the hands of just three companies. The implications would be far-reaching, extending from the farm gate to the stock market and the halls of regulatory bodies concerned that industry consolidation would compromise fair competition.
Many of those impacts would reverberate strongly in the "global north," where the business of large-scale agriculture and industrial farming ties closely into corporate investments and capital markets.
But what about the other end of the industry: the roughly 90 percent of the world's farmers classified as smallholders who are spread across the developing world and feed into global value chains? How will the mega-mergers of Dow Chemicals and Dupont, Bayer and Monsanto and Syngenta and China National Chemical Corp. — ChemChina, for short — affect the incomes and livelihoods of farmers in the "global south"?
Immediately and directly, not much, according to several agriculture and development experts. The Big Six multinationals operate in a commercial agriculture market for farming inputs that, for now, is still out of reach for most smallholder farmers.
"Half to two-thirds of smallholder farmers wouldn't be much affected because they aren't producing crops where the seeds are being purchased," said Kim Elliott, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.
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