The economic and political rise of the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) has far-reaching implications for global agrarian transformation as key sites of production, circulation and consumption of agricultural commodities. In each of the BRICS countries, profound changes are underway in rural society and agrarian economies. These vary from concentration in landholdings, changes in rural-urban links, migration, promotion of smallholder farming alongside the rise of corporate agribusiness, class differentiation of smallholders and family farmers, new forms of agri-business upstream and downstream of farming, vertical integration in value chains, supermarketization – and different combinations of these. The BRICS initiative in Critical Agrarian Studies (BICAS) is a collective of largely BRICS-based or connected academic researchers concerned with understanding the BRICS countries and their implications for global agrarian transformations. Critical theoretical and empirical questions about the origins, character and significance of complex changes underway need to be investigated more systematically.
The term crisis implies a short lived period of uncertainty - suggesting there is something temporary or anomalous about the current state of the global economy. On the contrary, our global economy, from the financial clouds (or bubbles) to the real roots - where men and women work, live and survive - is suffering from systemic flaws based on an ever expanding void between rich and poor.