In short, Sustainable Intensification can be relevant as a new paradigm for African smallholder farmers as long as suitable, sufficient resources and practices are supported and delivered at scale. Often success can be achieved on a small scale – a plot or a farm – but often with only one or two of the economic, social and environmental objectives attained. The challenge lies in meeting all the objectives and in scaling up success to a regional or national production system. African smallholders face many barriers to sustainably intensifying their incomes, their production and their nutrition, not least their physical access to the inputs of intensification, which may be limited for a variety of reasons. Land tenure must also be assured if smallholder farmers are to invest in Sustainable Intensification. Aside from security of rights to land, by women as well as men, intensification also requires a demand for the increased output, greater and more accessible financial investment (whether on a large scale or in the form of microcredit), available labour, better knowledge and skills and access to both input and output markets. Although the concept of Sustainable Intensification is relatively simple, experience suggests it is difficult to achieve, especially in its entirety – namely, using a more sophisticated set of inputs of all kinds while increasing outputs. One such difficulty is the responsible and efficient use of inputs. For farms in the developed world this may mean a decrease in their application, but for many farmers in SSA, who use virtually none of these inputs, a prudent and precise increase in their use can intensify production without forfeiting resilience and sustainability. The challenges are complex as are the technologies and processes required to find appropriate solutions. The paradigm of Sustainable Intensification shows the way forward. What is needed is research into appropriate innovations (technological and socio-economic), targeted financial investments and publicprivate partnerships, active participation in the process by smallholder famers and, above all, political leadership.
Talks to free up more trade and investment between the European Union and the United States got under way early in 2013. A good agreement in 2014 would be...
Victor LS's insight:
if successfully concluded, TTIP would be the most significant bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) to date, covering approximately 50% of global output, almost 30% of world merchandise trade (including intra-EU trade, but excluding services trade) and 20% of global foreign direct investment (FDI).
After months of discussions and debates on the scientific evidence regarding conservation agriculture for small-scale, resource-poor farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, a group of 40 scie...
Victor LS's insight:
According to the Declaration, most efforts to date in developing countries have promoted conservation agriculture as a package of three practices: minimum disturbance of soil, retention of sufficient crop residue, and diversified cropping patterns. However, the situation on the ground shows limits of this strict definition... Emphasis needs to be placed on diagnostic agronomy and participatory on-farm research to identify the constraints faced by farmers and to guide farmers in finding solutions to them. As there is a range of sound agronomic, economic, and/or social reasons for choosing not to adopt the three-component conservation agriculture package, it is necessary to systematically assess the suitability and viability of management options and practices while considering farmers’ objectives and constraints, the Declaration stresses.
Nearly all U.S. grown corn and soy are genetically modified, so why not wheat?
The industry is certainly interested. In 2002, biotechnology giant Monsanto submitted an application for a wheat strain engineered with the same herbicide-resistant signature found in its other successful seed crops. Federal regulators deemed it safe, but unlike corn and soy, wheat growers backed away, and approval was never granted.
Howard G. Buffett recently published a great article about his view of conservation agriculture and its importance for the future in which he is addressing ten common myths of conservation agriculture when applied to smallholder farmers.
In a world where some countries will experience temperature peaks over 45-50°C, finding crops and vegetation that can deal with such heat stress will be a struggle. There may in fact be a limit to how much we’ll be able to adapt. But there are things we can do that make us armed enough to tackle the climate challenge. One of these things is looking at what climate smart agriculture can offer smallholder farmers.
"Why are all the gas stations, cafes and restaurants in one crowded spot? As two competitive cousins vie for ice-cream-selling domination on one small beach, discover how game theory and the Nash Equilibrium inform these retail hotspots."
A 12-year plan to move hundreds of millions of rural residents into cities is intended to spur economic growth, but could have unintended consequences, skeptics warn.
Victor LS's insight:
"The ultimate goal of the government’s modernization plan is to fully integrate 70 percent of the country’s population, or roughly 900 million people, into city living by 2025"
Well, this is a risky plan. On one side we have the fact that social benefits do not reach rural areas what causes the feeling that to give more appropriate attention to the population, moving to the cities is the solution. On the other side, implementing this forced migration does not sound as a natural consequence of development. Risks include marginalization, food insecurity, gentrification or uncontrolled land grabbing.
It is interesting to notice that most of the so-called developing countries -or economies in transition- bet for urbanization strategies while there is a minor but growing trend across the so-called developed countries to move back to the farms (this is a private decision as opposed to the earlier)...
Demand for food is set to surge within the region. Can productivity growth keep pace?
Victor LS's insight:
Economic growth in Asia has already increased demand for higher protein and more diverse diets, including more dairy, fish and meat. higher levels of urbanization are only expected to exacerbate this trend further.
By 2025, nearly 2.5 billion people in Asia– over half of the world’s urban population – are expected to be living in cities, with the number rising to 3.3 billion by 2050...
FAO makes a strong statement towards blending small/scale local food and large production for food security purposes. Each of them has its own purpose, value and beneficiaries. This is a great statement to support and ease the understanding of both systems coexistence.
TEXCOCO (Reuters) - Carlos Slim and Bill Gates, the two richest men on the planet, inaugurated a new agricultural research center outside Mexico's capital, touting the millions they have donated to bolster...
Voters are counting on the next president to find a solution to the country's alarming rise in organised crime.
This interactive features shows temporal and spatial data on drug-related deaths in Mexico since 2007. Also connected are profiles of the presidential candidates of the three major political parties (PRI, PAN and PRD) and with their platform on drugs and ways to curtail the accompanying violence. Mexico's presidents can only hold office for one term, but it is a six-year term...2012 isn't just about Obama and Romney.