Peasants at the community of Crescencio Gonzalez harvest sesame

The United Soya Republic (ongoing)

A journey through the heartlands of South America’s agribusiness, this long-term project focuses on the changes in the landscape and socio-economic tissue brought about by intensive farming and exportation of produce in a region that has found itself at the epicenter of the global food economy.

Food insecurity is one of the most pressing issues of our time due to long-term global developments such as climate change, population growth, water scarcity or the growing demand for meat and dairy. Large estate agriculture has emerged in several parts of the world, bringing together genetic engineering, food processing, and bio-fuels with the underlying promise of tackling hunger.

One of the major food and biofuel producers in the world is the Southern Cone. Although it is at the forefront of agribusiness, the focus has been on short-term profit, meaning environmental, social and health implications are often overlooked. Collectively, we are still trying to comprehend how to respond to this burgeoning system, which is designed to meet large-scale demands but appears to benefit a rather small percentage of the global population.

Aiming to document the effects of this rapid agricultural shift on the communities and environments at its centre, I focused on Paraguay and Argentina. Amidst a booming economy I witnessed cases of social unrest, deforestation, environmental contamination and internal migration – an issue that is ever more present in our world. The situation is especially difficult for indigenous and vulnerable populations in rural areas who are seeing their means of production and land taken away. These are the same groups who have historically dealt with governmental neglect, a lack of access to formal education, and are often susceptible to exploitation due to their dependence on agricultural security.

An economy in a state of flux combined with the difficulties local people face in adjusting to changes, as well as problems with infrastructure in the region, are forever altering the identity of these lands. The consequences will be seen in years to come.

This work is part of a long-term photographic documentary project through which I seek to speak of the challenges of food production and its distribution in our globalised world.