Sustainable Land Management Sourcebook (Agriculture and Rural Development Series)

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Pollination, Pollinators and Food Production.

Documents & Reports

Scenarios and Modelling of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. Review of pollinators and pollination relevant to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in all ecosystems, beyond their role in agriculture and food production. In the new Plan of Action, governments urged the engagement of businesses, indigenous peoples and local communities, and other relevant actors, involved in production landscapes, to address the drivers of loss of wild and managed pollinators in all ecosystems.

The draft full report on the relevance of pollinators and pollination to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in all ecosystems beyond their role in agriculture and food production[3] will be posted for peer review comments, and it will be available for the fourteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties. New UN Development Programme report highlights the challenges and opportunities of building climate resilience as the region works toward peaceful low-carbon climate-resilient development.

Over the past decades, the region has seen significant economic and social progress. Climate risks threaten to derail these development gains. This has contributed to situations of famine and food insecurity, loss of livelihoods and life, and the displacement of millions.

Sustainable land management sourcebook (English) | The World Bank

Climate change-related desertification has expanded, greatly increasing the vulnerability of the local population. Current climate change projections show that by the year , the water supply in the Arab region will be only 15percent of levels in In fragile countries such as Somalia, illegal armed groups such as Al-Shabaab have increasingly attracted young people who are affected by drought-induced food insecurity and who have limited job prospects, according to the report findings. UNDP supports countries in the four sub-regions of the Arab region Mashreq, Maghreb, Arab Gulf and the Horn of Africa to adapt to climate change impacts and to prepare for disaster risks.

Climate change adaptation projects in the region support improved natural resource management practices, diversified incomes, policy support, and ecosystem-based adaptation approaches designed to improve productivity for farmers and pastoralists. On the ground in more than countries and territories, we offer a global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations. Productive Discussion on the role of national ecosystem assessment in the post biodiversity agenda.

Provision of wider choices of technologies basket of options for resource-poor farmers in complex and diverse environments; finding locally adapted solutions. Enhancing adaptive management capacity, emancipation, and social capital at local level; Building of stakeholder platforms for negotiations and learning processes Strategic research on NRM processes. Multiplicity of local and external stakeholders e.

Information collector of rural people's knowledge, planner and manager of research intervention More recently: Creative investigator, active participant and partner in the process of learning and action. Outsiders analyze needs and priorities Static plan, rapid and widespread implementation 'Fixed menu' Linear, clearly defined stages of research External intermittent evaluation. Soft systems learning and action research, stakeholder analysis, PAR, FPR, informal farmer experimentation, comparative case studies. Most of the current NRM research initiatives focus on the generation and provision of technologies, assume a functioning linear research-development continuum, use mostly consultative forms of participation, and consider participatory research as a tool for applied and adaptive research.

Therefore, they principally fall into the categories of 'transfer of technology' and 'farmers first' approaches. Longer-term participatory learning and action research approaches are only beginning to be chosen by international agricultural research centers IARCs as they require a different kind of professionalism and challenge the mandate, i.

The potential of participatory learning and action research for strategic research and approach development is gradually recognized, particularly since the research system i. Another frequently discussed issue is the question of client-orientation in international agricultural research. Presently, public sector agricultural research is mainly externally initiated, discipline-led and supply-driven, no matter which of the above-mentioned approaches is chosen. Research institutions write proposals according to their strengths and preferences, they manage the funds obtained for development-oriented research, and are accountable and report to donors.

Local "clients" in turn have little power and influence on the research agenda. Currently, new financial mechanisms are under discussion to increase the demand-orientation and accomplish more market-led client-provider relationships. They would act as clients who commission external service providers, and "buy-in" research services they need. Each of the three prototypical approaches to innovation development could be chosen under such market-led conditions, i. This model would put local people in a position of greatest power, as they can demand accountability, whereas external actors are responding to their requests.

What frequently is ignored in the discussion of such financial agreements, is that some preconditions need to be in place for their functioning, such as a certain level of local organizational and management capacity, the ability to identify and articulate broad based demands, etc. Otherwise, such efforts would be highly susceptible to corruption by local elites, or walk in the trap of "local people demanding more of the same". Participatory learning and action research approaches by nature seek to strengthen the capacities of poor farmers in marginal areas to ultimately allow the application of more market-led and demand-oriented approaches.

Resource-Poor Farmer Participation in Research: New York and London: Learning Together for Change. Kommunikation und Beratung No. Online documents at URL: Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation: A Promising Concept in Participatory Research? Lessons from Two Case Studies in Honduras.

Cornell Participatory Action Research Network. The emergence of participation as an issue to be addressed within extension approaches was slower in coming to the forefront, as compared to the attention participation received within research systems. One key element of participation is an emphasis on developing the capacity of local people as an end in itself, as opposed to the purely mechanistic emphasis of participation as a means within the technology development flow that has often characterized research and extension programs.

During the late s and early s, increasingly more field-based experiences emerged creating more space for methodological and institutional innovations for agricultural research and extension. Within these participatory approaches - as they became commonly known - a special emphasis was placed upon participation of local people and their communities, especially working with and through groups; and building upon the traditional or indigenous knowledge that they held Chambers et al.

Table 1 situates farmer participation in a comparative context of previous and existing research-extension paradigms. The rise of farmer participatory research FPR was a deliberate effort among agricultural professionals to combine farmers' indigenous traditional knowledge ITK with the more widely recognized expertise of the agricultural research community. The approach aimed to distinguish itself from farming systems research FSR in its more deliberate attempt to actively involve farmers in setting the research agenda, implementing trials and analyzing findings and results Farrington and Martin, FPR has gone beyond the on-farm trials which became the standard of FSR, and actually called for farmers to design, monitor and evaluate experiments - in collaboration with researchers - carried out in their own fields Okali et al.

Some have argued that while FPR approaches can increase participation among farmers, as a research methodology, it has not brought about impact and output Bentley, , or may require more than short-term technology development efforts Humphries et al. The study concluded that farmers' experiments are in fact more "complementary" than "synergistic" to formal agricultural research efforts, and that farmers' experiments are more closely linked to agricultural extension activities rather than to agricultural research accomplishments Sumberg and Okali, Some of the trends like the recognition of the importance of farmers' ITK, strengthening of farmers' participation, the emergence of non-government organizations NGOs within the agricultural technology development sphere -allowed for the development of one of the more articulate models deriving from the FPR experiences - the multiple source of innovation model Biggs, The model states that agricultural innovation and the systems that carry those innovations between and among farmers can derive from several sources, rather than from a single formal source i.

The multiple source of innovation model has allowed for greater operational space for NGOs within the agricultural technology development system, as it has provided greater legitimacy to their contribution Farrington and Amanor, Despite the articulate and increasingly large body of literature on participatory research and extension approaches, much of the work that has been conducted under the farmer-first and FPR frameworks focuses mainly on the research dimension of agricultural technology development and dissemination approaches.

Concrete examples of the application of the underlying principles of participation, indigenous knowledge, and the users' or farmers' perspective to the extension function and a discussion of the implications of these considerations to agricultural extension systems have been somewhat limited. The model also identifies the need to support farmer networking to reinforce individual learning, centered within a process which is facilitated by highly trained outsiders agricultural professionals - both researchers and extension workers , thus comprising an agricultural knowledge and information system AKIS.

Engel presents a general typology of participation in extension which attempts to qualify levels of intensity of farmer participation as:. Using this typology, much of what is called farmer participation in extension falls under the first two levels. However, for extension to become more farmer-led, a greater emphasis must be placed on the third - more substantive - type of farmer participation. One example of this third type of farmer participation in extension can be noted in the experience of the Uganda National Farmer's Association that has established a "demand-driven, cost-recovery" extension system as an alternative to public sector extension in a number of districts Carney, Farmer participation in extension will require putting farmers first by placing real ownership and accountability of public extension organizations into the hands of the clients - the farmers, and their communities and organizations.

Antholt suggests that this might be accomplished by developing mechanisms for improving public support i. However, he goes on to say that this will also require farmers to assume more responsibility to determine and pay for extension services and programs. User-centered approaches to extension - while increasingly fashionable - are not favored by agricultural extension agencies particularly the public sector because of the resulting changes in their power relations with farmers Tendler, Drawing upon extension practice and literature, key elements of agricultural extension approaches can be identified and formulated into a comparative typology for three different types of extension approaches Table 2.

The first two columns represent two distinct extension approaches - extensionist-centered and farmer-led approaches. Using key elements of any extension approach, the table attempts to differentiate between these two distinct approaches, recognizing that these are only models and that no single extension program may neatly fit into either model. The third column represents an emerging typology of extension approach which argues for a synthesis of these two conventional models into the form of an "accompaniment" model for participatory agricultural extension — a "middle path" between the more traditional extensionist-centered approaches and the more dynamic farmer-led approaches.

This "accompaniment model" suggests that farmer-led extension approaches cannot solely focus on the farmer promoters involved in the process, as there is, indeed, a critical role for professional extension workers to "accompany" the efforts and to support the achievements of farmer promoters. Experience has shown that it is difficult to achieve quality work from farmer promoters if they are not supported by well-trained professional extension workers sensitive to the new attitudes required of them. Comparative Typology of Extension Approaches from the Literature.

Agricultural productivity through yield increases. Capacity-building especially farmer extensionists. Creating or strengthening local institutions. Increase household productivity through agricultural and other livelihood improvements. Encourage farmer participation and community mobilization in local development efforts. Create or strengthen local institutions. Research institutions local and international.

Grassroots or farmers' organizations e. Applicable to any institutional setting, including government extension service, local and international NGOs, grassroots or farmers' organizations, university and research institutions. Extension organization must be able to provide a policy framework and incentives to staff that support active participation of farmers. Professional staff must be able to focus the extension work of the institution around values and attitudes that foster farmer participation.

Cash crop production coffee, tea, vegetables, etc. Natural resource management strategies. Relevant to almost any technology, production system or natural resource management regime. Farmer-centered approaches tend to focus more on pro-poor needs, priorities and contexts. Approaches appear to be more appropriate for complex, integrated farming systems which require more complex natural resource management strategies, or more information-intensive production systems, e. Approaches appear to not be well-suited for more commercial, overtly market-based production settings.

Level of farmer participation in decision-making for extension priorities and activities, resource allocation, etc. Films, videos and other audio-visual media. Pamphlets and other written materials. Farmer cross-visits or exchanges. On-farm experimentation for technology demonstration. Almost any extension method may be applicable.

Effective use of any particular method is more dependent upon the emphasis that is given to the specific and active role of farmers, e. Several methods have proven to be more effective for eliciting farmer participation, e. Active farmer participation in on-farm experimentation for technology demonstration is a proven method that effectively channels farmer inputs and perspectives. Participate in external assessment of community problems, or assist in community problem analysis. Receivers of technical messages. Provide feedback to extension activities and new technologies.

Facilitate community problem analysis. Actively involved in extension planning. Monitor and evaluate accomplishments. Determine extension priorities and are actively involved in extension planning. Monitor and evaluate extension accomplishments. Participate in and often organize networking and information exchange mechanisms.

Participate in researcher-led on-farm experiments. Generally entails medium to high costs. Control of funding resources is usually through the extension provider primarilynon-local levels of government. Generally entails low to medium costs. Grants from international donors, especially NGOs. Control of funding resources is typically through an NGO or farmers' organizations; some examples also exist through local authorities e.

Entails low to medium costs compared with conventional extension programs, but is not a no-cost mechanism for service provision. Control of resources should be decentralized to the most localized level possible, e. Usually covers large geographical areas, e. While not scale-neutral, these approaches can be applied at almost any scale. Before we leave the discussion on participatory approaches to agricultural research and extension, a word of caution is required. Many agricultural professionals, including some of the most vocal proponents in favor of participatory approaches, are calling for a re-examination of the current fad in the promotion of these approaches and highlighting the need to be more objective in the analysis of these approaches Biggs, ; Cooke and Kothari, In order to more accurately measure their effectiveness and impact, Biggs specifically underlines the importance of developing a framework for analysis and evaluation of participatory technology development PTD and related experiences - a recommendation that has been strongly seconded by others Oakley, Getting Ready for the Twenty-First Century: Technical Change and Institutional Modernisation in Agriculture.

World Bank Technical Paper No. Evidence from an Ecuadorian Case Study.

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Agriculture and Human Values Vol. Intermediate Technology Development Group, London. Two Ears, One Mouth Farmers' Participation and Extension. Experiences in Participatory Technology Development. Worldwide Institutional Evolution and Forces for Change. Farmer Participation in Agricultural Research: Communication for Technology Transfer in Africa. Academy for Educational Development. People's Participation in Development Projects.

Occasional Paper Series, No. What to Think of Extension?: Transforming Extension for Sustainable Agriculture: Tales of Dissemination in Small-Farm Agriculture: Lessons for Institution Builders. Some Approaches and Tools. Contributing to rural transformations and sustainable natural resource management through participatory action research requires researchers to reflect on the research process. The challenge is to critically assess the kind s of participation that are appropriate to the different stages of the research cycle.

Another way to phrase this is to ask what is good practice in participatory research and development. There are three complementary entry points for investigating this question: Participatory research can take a variety of different forms in terms of who participates, how and when, and who decides about what, how and when. In any given participatory research activity, usually more than one form is employed, either consciously or unconsciously.

Consultative forms of participation mean that researchers only consult with others e. Collegial forms imply the active involvement and equal decision making power of others in conducting the whole research process from identification of the research problem or opportunity to final assessment , such as the involvement of communities and user groups in decision making about new management rules and regulations e.

A useful typology is the following adapted from Probst et al. Contractual Participation One social actor has sole decision-making power over most of the decisions taken in a research process, and can be considered the "owner" of it. Others participate in activities defined by this social actor in the sense of being formally or informally "contracted" to provide services and support. Collaborative Participation Different actors collaborate and are put on a more equal footing, emphasizing linkage through an exchange of knowledge, different contributions and a sharing of decision-making power during the innovation process.

Collegiate Participation Different actors work together as colleagues or partners. It is useful to differentiate between types of participation in order to understand how this influences research results. Community participation in research can be differentiated according to the level of community control over the process who sets the agenda , when at what stage of the research local people participate, and the level of representation and differentiation of different stakeholders and community groups in the process.

Table 1 is a useful tool to reflect on these questions in any given project or program. There is no right or wrong amount of participation. However, it is always important to be honest and open to the community about the purposes of the research. If the goal of the research is social transformation, it is important to give local people as much control as possible over the research process. Taking part in a research process is about generating new knowledge and skills, changing attitudes, and improving practice.

It is therefore useful to reflect on the nature of knowledge generation processes. Knowledge exists in different forms, which are equally valuable and legitimate. A combination local or indigenous knowledge and scientific knowledge is important to improve natural resource management decisions at the local level or at higher levels, such as a watershed. Different groups in the community and different stakeholders have different knowledge about natural resources and may have different priorities, and there are many explanations or folk theories for a given body of facts.

It is therefore very important to speak with different people in the community women, men, poor, landless, different ethnic and social status, young and old in order to understand their different perspectives. It is also important to be conscious that information and knowledge are not value-free, and to be aware that the selective choice of information or knowledge may empower some people and on the other hand, displace others.

In other words, knowledge is always socially constructed and often disputed Long and Long, The knowledge and information generated from participatory action research activities are constructed by the socio-economic and political context in which the research takes place local culture and society, resource issues, and rights ; by the nature of the research questions asked and research methods used; by the attitudes and abilities of the researchers; and by the research capacity and experiences of the community McAllister, ; McAllister and Vernooy, Stronger awareness of these different social factors, which can influence the research process, can help researchers better understand the results of their activities.

At the community level, natural resources are governed by complex, overlapping, and sometimes conflicting social entitlements and traditional norms, such as private versus common property rights, tree versus land tenure, differential security of tenure and use rights. Social identities, relationships and roles negotiated along lines of gender, kinship, ethnicity, socio-economic status, age, occupation, and so on, can influence access to and use of natural resources. Different stakeholders — within the community and outside — have different values, perceptions and objectives, depending on individual context how the individual experiences the social and natural environment and social-cultural identity McDougall and Braun, Representation of community interests and knowledge are often produced in the context of struggles over resources through which different parties defend interests and advance claims.

Power differences between different community groups and between the community and outside groups influence interaction and negotiation between them and can influence whose interests are represented in the research. Participatory processes provide an opportunity for less-powerful groups to contest existing power relations and resource rights, but also may enable more powerful or politically aware groups to assert preferential rights over resources.

Here it is important to consider if the government is supportive of participatory processes. It is often especially important to be aware of the differences in social power and resource rights between men and women, that is, to specifically incorporate gender analysis into the research process. Gender encompasses the socially constructed roles and characteristics assigned to men and women in a specific culture. Characteristics, which are specific to the project and the project's location, may influence the research; affect local people's willingness to participate; and influence the appropriateness of different approaches.

It is recommended that the team carrying out the project reflect in a team-session on the following questions. Are they focused or broad? Is the emphasis on diagnosis or on transformation? Is the goal to change people's behavior and attitudes, to help them develop new technologies or management approaches, or both?

Does the project deal with fisheries, forestry, agriculture, or a combination? With individually or collectively managed natural resources, or a combination? Does the research involve economic, social, ecological, political, issues or a combination of issues? Does the research problem affect the local, regional, or national scale or a combination? Previous experience of local people with research and development projects, as well as perceptions of potential benefits can influence community motivation to participate in new research activities, as well as bias their responses. Methodologies for encouraging community participation can influence the information and priorities which result and the decisions which are made, because of who is present and because of how freely different individuals and groups are able to express their interests.

Local people may be inhibited to let researchers know what they truly think, may give "correct" or "expected" responses, or may present needs, which they feel fit the agenda of the researchers. Their responses may be based on their perceptions of what they can gain or lose by providing certain information, as well as suspicions about how the results will be used. Research activities may be perceived as both foreign and highly formal by local people, especially when more powerful stakeholders are present.

Local involvement is often time-consuming, and takes people away from their normal livelihood activities. Sometimes, individuals who have important perspectives on the project are not able to participate in participatory group activities because they are busy with making their living. This is often especially true for women. It is important to recognize the value of local people's time, and to design research activities so that they are most convenient for local people.

It may also be necessary to specifically seek out the perspectives of the very poor who may not be able to spare time to participate in organized activities go to the people, instead of have the people come to the researchers, for example — interview women in the fields where they farm , so that their important perspectives are included in research decisions.

Researcher's skills and experience with community facilitation, understanding of social and gender dimensions of research, and capacity for adaptability and flexibility all influence how research will actually be done. Other aspects to consider, include:. What are the motivations and underlying values for becoming involved, of the community, the researchers, and the donor agencies, which support the research?

What is the researcher and research institution's commitment to participation? Is there a commitment and flexibility to allowing the community to redirect the process? What are the attitudes and values regarding local knowledge and local people? Why are the community and subgroups, and possibly other stakeholders motivated to participate in process?

Are local people aware of the problems the research is directed towards? Are local people committed to addressing these problems? Does the local culture support participation in decision making? What are the local values of hierarchy, respect, and of equity? What are the differing interests in negotiating access to resources or power? Risk Assessment of Participatory Research: The Social and Political Project Environment. Although participatory research can result in significant benefits for local people and marginalized groups, there are certain risks associated with this approach.

Risks can be considered from two perspectives:. Below are guide questions for risk assessment in the context of social and political environment of the project. Is there a risk that not involving certain stakeholders will provoke them to obstruct the research process? Are there security and livelihood risks to local participants if they become involved in an empowering activity of which the ruling group may not approve because of national politics and governance, community leadership, local patronage relations which place certain groups in subordinate positions, etc.

How will the project handle this? Are there political and security risks both to researchers and project staff if the participatory process is perceived as a threat to the political or local establishment? Is there potential for the research approach to disempower certain groups in the process of enhancing the resource rights and livelihood security of the "community"?

Who stands to benefit from the approach and how, and who may be further disadvantaged? Who is enabled or constrained? Whose economic circumstances or security of tenure is at stake? This consideration is especially important if the project deals with common property resources, and when there are conflicting uses, needs, and interests in the resources. What are the potential risks to the community resulting from the misuse of participatory research methods by inexperienced researchers? Examples of such risk could include:.

Exacerbating or initiating conflict in the community by making power relations explicit or by unknowingly directing benefits of the research to specific individuals or social groups. Further marginalizing certain social groups by not understanding how the research and participatory process might affect them negatively, by not recognizing them as important stakeholders to include in the process.

Accidentally aiding elite members of the community in increasing their power, access and rights over resources through legitimizing their claims through "participatory" activities such as boundary and resource mapping, tree-planting which may effectively lead to land privatization. A third way to address the quality of participation is to ask how it contributes to the central goals of participatory research for natural resource management: The latter implies that these findings may be generalized, i. Based on a comprehensive review of participatory research for natural resource management case studies, five principles of good practice and selected related indicators have been put forward Vernooy and McDougall, The research reflects a clear and coherent common agenda or set of priorities among stakeholders and it contributes to partnership building.

The agenda has been set collaboratively and transparently. The design allows space for meaningful participation of local stakeholders. Partnerhsips have been created or strengthened through dialogue, joint actions and mutual benefits. The research addresses and integrates the complexities and dynamics of change in human and natural resource systems and processes, including local understanding of these.

The analysis gives equal attention to both the inherent site characteristics and to the impacts of innovative management practices. The research uses an iterative cycle of inquiry and learning. The research applies the 'triangulation principle' i. The research links the local, traditional and scientific knowledge worlds.

The research uses a diversity of tools and methods. Information generation is based on multiple sources. Dissemination occurs throughout the whole process. The research process allows for options and scenario development. The research has a sustainability focus and an exit strategy built in from the outset. The research incorporates a scaling up or extrapolation strategy, including an analysis of the uptake environment.

The research process is based in iterative learning and feedback loops and there is a two-way sharing of information. The research includes regular exchange and reflection involving key stakeholders. The research has regular monitoring events. Outcomes of monitoring events are translated into revised actions. These principles and related indicators make up a framework that represents a potential tool for learning for researchers enabling the application of increasingly inclusive or integrative perspectives to participatory research practice.

It also serves as a hypothesis-generating tool to guide future research design and planning. Combining the three entry points presented here to reflect on and assess the quality of participation is a challenge. However, facing up to this challenge is at the heart of a commitment to participatory research and development. Monitoring and Evaluation Process, Outputs and Outcomes. Navigating Complexity, Diversity and Dynamism: Reflections on Research for Natural Resource Management. Managing Natural Resources for Sustainable Livelihoods: Uniting Science and Participation.

Earthscan, and Ottawa, Canada: Paradigms, Approaches and Typologies. Principles for Good Practice in Participatory Research: Reflecting on Lessons from the Field. Earthscan and Ottawa, Canada: Throughout the developing world, resource-poor farmers about 1. For the most part, resource-poor farmers gained very little from the Green Revolution as the new technologies were not scale-neutral. The farmers with the larger and better-endowed lands gained the most, whereas farmers with fewer resources often lost, and income disparities were often accentuated.

Although subsequent studies have shown that the spread of high-yielding varieties among small farmers occurred in Green Revolution areas where they had access to irrigation and subsidized agrochemicals, inequities remain. Clearly, food security in the developing world will need to be increased, especially in the marginal areas where the majority of the poor people are concentrated.

In order to benefit the poor more directly, a new Natural Resource Management NRM approach must be developed to directly and simultaneously tackle the following objectives:. The NRM strategy must be applicable under the highly heterogeneous and diverse conditions in which smallholders live, must be environmentally-sustainable and based on the use of local resources and indigenous knowledge Table 1. The emphasis should be on improving whole farming systems at the field or watershed level rather than the yield of specific commodities. Technological generation should be a demand-driven process, meaning that research priorities should be based on the socio-economic needs and environmental circumstances of resource-poor farmers.

To be of benefit to the rural poor, agricultural research and development should operate on the basis of a "bottom-up" approach, using and building upon the resources already available: It must also seriously take into consideration, through participatory approaches, the needs, aspirations and circumstances of smallholders. A relevant NRM strategy requires the use of general agroecological principles and customizing agricultural technologies to local needs and circumstances.

Where the conventional technology transfer model breaks down is where new management systems need to be tailored and adapted in a site-specific way to highly variable and diverse farm conditions. Agroecological principles have universal applicability but the technological forms through which those principles become operational depend on the prevailing environmental and socio-economic conditions of the target farmer group. Such complex farming systems, adapted to the local conditions, have helped small farmers to sustainably manage harsh environments and to meet their subsistence needs, without depending on mechanization, chemical fertilizers, pesticides or other technologies of modern agricultural science.

Although many of these systems have collapsed or disappeared in many parts of the Third World, the stubborn persistence of millions of hectares under traditional agriculture in the form of raised fields, terraces, polycultures, agroforestry systems, etc. The ensemble of traditional crop management practices used by many resource-poor farmers represent a rich resource for modern workers seeking to create novel agroecosystems well adapted to the local agroecological and socioeconomic circumstances.

Farmers use a diversity of techniques, many of which fit well to local conditions and can lead to the conservation and regeneration of the natural resource base as in the case of indigenous soil and water management practices in Africa. The techniques tend to be knowledge-intensive rather than input-intensive, but clearly not all are effective or applicable, therefore modifications and adaptations may be necessary. The challenge is to maintain the foundations of such modifications grounded on farmers' rationale and knowledge.

Slash and burn or milpa is perhaps one of the best examples of an ecological strategy to manage agriculture in the tropics. By maintaining a mosaic of plots under cropping and some in fallow, the milpa captures the essence of natural processes of soil regeneration typical of any ecological succession. By understanding the rationale of the milpa , a contemporary discovery, the use of green manures has provided an ecological pathway to the intensification of the milpa , in areas where long fallows are not possible anymore due to population growth or conversion of forest to pasture.

In particular, the system appears to greatly diminish drought stress because the mulch layer left by mucuna helps conserve water in the soil profile. With enough water around, nutrients are made readily available, in good synchronization with major crop uptake. In addition, the mucuna suppresses weeds with a notable exception of one weed species, Rottboellia cochinchinensis , either because velvetbean physically prevents them from germinating and emerging or from surviving very long during the velvetbean cycle, or because a shallow rooting of weeds in the litter layer-soil interface makes them easier to control.

Data shows that this system grounded in farmers' knowledge, involving the continuous annual rotation of velvetbean and maize, can be sustained for at least 15 years at a reasonably high level of productivity, without any apparent decline in the natural resource base. Agroecology is a science that provides guidelines to understanding the nature of agroecosystems and the principles by which they function. Agroecology provides the basic ecological principles for how to study, design and manage agroecosystems that are both productive and natural resource-conserving, and that are also culturally-sensitive, socially-just and economically-viable.

Instead of focusing on one particular component of the agroecosystem, agroecology emphasizes the interrelatedness of all agroecosystem components and the complex dynamics of ecological processes including all environmental and human elements. Agroecology takes greater advantage of natural processes and beneficial on-farm interactions in order to reduce off-farm input use and to improve the efficiency of farming systems.

Technologies emphasized tend to enhance the functional biodiversity of agroecosystems as well as the conservation of existing on-farm resources. Promoted technologies such as cover crops, green manures, intercropping, agroforestry and crop-livestock mixtures, are multi-functional as their adoption usually means favorable changes in various components of the farming systems at the same time. At the heart of the agroecology strategy is the idea that an agroecosystem should mimic the functioning of local ecosystems thus exhibiting tight nutrient cycling, complex structure, and enhanced biodiversity.

The expectation is that such agricultural mimics, like their natural models, can be productive, pest-resistant and conservative of nutrients. Many agricultural studies have shown that complex, multi-species agricultural systems are more dependable in production and more sustainable in terms of resource conservation than simplified agroecosystems.

Significant yield increases have been reported in diverse cropping systems compared to monocultures. Enhanced yields in diverse cropping systems may result from a variety of mechanisms, such as more efficient use of resources light, water, nutrients or reduced pest damage. The ability of a crop plant to resist or tolerate pests is tied to optimal physical, chemical and biological properties of soils, as it is now known that a diverse and active community of soil organisms all contribute to plant health. Organic-rich soils generally exhibit complex food webs and beneficial organisms that prevent infection by disease-causing organisms.

Much research has shown that increasing plant diversity in agroecosystems leads to reduced herbivorous insect abundance. Insect pest species usually exhibit higher abundance in monoculture than in diversified crop systems. Plant diseases are also amenable to regulation via diversification as there is evidence suggesting that genetic heterogeneity reduces the vulnerability of monocultured crops to disease. Since the early s, hundreds of agroecologically-based projects have been promoted by non-government organizations NGOs throughout the developing world, which incorporate elements of both traditional knowledge and modern agricultural science.

A variety of projects exist featuring resource-conserving yet highly-productive systems, such as polycultures, agroforestry and the integration of crops and livestock, etc. Such alternative approaches can be described as low-input technologies, but this designation refers to the external inputs required. The amount of labor, skills and management that are required as inputs to make land and other factors of production most productive is quite substantial.

So rather than focus on what is not being utilized, it is better to focus on what is most important to increase food output, labor, knowledge and management. The analysis of dozens of NGO-led agroecological projects show convincingly that agroecological systems are not limited to producing low outputs, as some critics have asserted. In some of these systems, yields for crops that the poor rely on most- rice, beans, maize, cassava, potatoes, barley - have been increased by several - fold, relying on labor and know-how more than on expensive purchased inputs, and capitalizing on processes of intensification and synergy.

More important than just yields, agroecological interventions raise total production significantly through diversification of farming systems, such as raising fish in rice paddies or growing crops with trees, or adding goats or poultry to household operations. Agroecological approaches increased the stability of production as seen in lower coefficients of variance in crop yield with better soil and water management. Such yield enhancements are a true breakthrough for achieving food security among farmers isolated from mainstream agricultural institutions. Pretty and Hine, Throughout Africa, Asia and Latin America, there are many NGOs involved in promoting agroecological initiatives that have demonstrated a positive impact on the livelihoods of small farming communities in various countries.

Success is dependent on the use of a variety of agroecological improvements that in addition to farm diversification favoring a better use of local resources, also emphasize human capital enhancement and community empowerment through training and participatory methods as well as higher access to markets, credit and income- generating activities. Analysts point at the following factors as underlying the success of agroecological improvements:. In most cases, farmers adopting agroecological models achieved significant levels of food security and natural resource conservation.

Given the benefits and advantages of such initiatives, two basic questions emerge: Obviously, technological or ecological intentions are not enough to disseminate agroecology. There are many factors that constrain the implementation of sustainable agriculture initiatives Table 2.


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Pesticides incentives and subsidies. Export orientation and monocultural focus of conventional policies. Lack of incentives for institutional partnerships. Political and economic power wielded against integrated pest management IPM. Advertising and sales practices. Lack of funding, especially long-term support.

Need for reducing dependency on donors and for developing local support. Institutional rigidities among some collaborators. Lack of experience with agroecology and participatory methods. Social and health concerns sometimes neglected.


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Lack of communication and cooperation skills among some groups. Major changes must be made in policies, institutions and research and development agendas to make sure that agroecological alternatives are adopted, made equitably and broadly accessible, and multiplied so that their full benefit for sustainable food security can be realized. One important factor limiting the spread of agroecological innovations is that for the most part, NGOs promoting such initiatives have not analyzed or systematized the principles that determined the level of success of the local initiatives, nor have been able to validate specific strategies for the scaling-up of such initiatives.

A starting point therefore should be the understanding of the agroecological and socio-economic conditions under which alternatives were adopted and implemented at the local level. Such information can shed light on the constraints and opportunities farmers are likely to face at the regional level. An unexplored approach is to provide additional methodological or technical ingredients to existing cases that have reached a certain level of success.

Clearly, in each country there are restraining factors such as lack of markets and lack of appropriate agricultural policies and technologies which limit scaling up.

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On the other hand, opportunities for scaling up exist, including the systematization and application of approaches that have been successful. Thus, scaling up strategies must capitalize on mechanisms conducive to the spread of knowledge and techniques, such as:. The main expectation of a scaling-up process is that it should expand the geographical coverage of participating institutions and their target agroecological projects while allowing an evaluation of the impact of the strategies employed.

A key research goal should be that the methodology used will allow for a comparative analysis of the experiences learned, extracting principles that can be applied in the scaling-up of other existing local initiatives, thus illuminating other development processes. From a worldwide survey of sustainable agriculture initiatives analysts concluded that if sustainable agriculture is to spread to larger numbers of farmers and communities, then future attention needs to be focused on:.

There is no question that small farmers located in marginal environments in the developing world can produce much of their needed food. The evidence is conclusive: A variety of agroecological and participatory approaches in many countries show very positive outcomes even under adverse conditions.

Whether the potential and spread of these thousands of local agroecological innovations is realized depends on several factors and actions. Proposed NRM strategies have to deliberately target the poor, and not only aim at increasing production and conserving natural resources, but also create employment, provide access to local inputs and output markets.

New strategies must focus on the facilitation of farmer learning to become experts in NRM and at capturing the opportunities in their diverse environments. Researchers and rural development practitioners need to translate general ecological principles and natural resource management concepts into practical advice directly relevant to the needs and circumstances of smallholders.

The new pro-poor technological agenda must incorporate agroecological perspectives. A focus on resource conserving technologies, that uses labor efficiently, and on diversified farming systems based on natural ecosystem processes will be essential. This implies a clear understanding of the relationship between biodiversity and agroecosystem function and identifying management practices and designs that will enhance the right kind of biodiversity which in turn will contribute to the maintenance and productivity of agroecosystems.

Technological solutions need to be location-specific and information-intensive rather than capital-intensive. Any serious attempt at developing sustainable agricultural technologies must bring to bear local knowledge and skills on the research process. Particular emphasis must be given to involving farmers directly in the formulation of the research agenda and on their active participation in the process of technological innovation and dissemination.

The focus should be on strengthening local research and problem-solving capacities. Organizing local people around NRM projects that make effective use of traditional skills and knowledge provides a launching pad for additional learning and organizing, thus improving prospects for community empowerment and self-reliant development.

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Major changes must be made in policies, institutions and research and development to make sure that agroecological alternatives are adopted, made equitably and broadly accessible and multiplied so that their full benefit for sustainable food security can be realized. Existing subsidies and policy incentives for conventional chemical approaches must be dismantled. Corporate control over the food system must also be challenged. The strengthening of local institutional capacity and widening access of farmers to support services that facilitate use of technologies will be critical. Governments and international public organizations must encourage and support effective partnerships between NGOs, local universities and farmer organizations to assist and empower poor farmers to achieve food security, income generation and natural resource conservation.

There is also need to increase rural incomes through interventions other than enhancing yields, such as complementary marketing and processing activities. Therefore equitable market opportunities should also be developed, emphasizing fair trade and other mechanisms that link farmers and consumers more directly. The ultimate challenge is to increase investment and research in agroecology and scale up projects that have already proven successful to thousands of other farmers. This will generate a meaningful impact on the income, food security, and environmental well-being of the world's population, especially of the millions of poor farmers yet untouched by modern agricultural technology.

Contribute to greater environmental preservation. Enhance production and household food security. Provide on and off-farm employment. Provision of local inputs and marketing opportunities. Promotion of resource-conserving multifunctional technologies. Participatory approaches for community involvement and empowerment.

Effective and supportive policies. Biodiversity and Pest Management in Agroecosystems. Haworth Press, New York. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment Soil Fertility Management and Insect Pests: Harmonizing Soil and Plant Health in Agroecosystems. Soil and Tillage Research Ecological Process in Sustainable Agriculture.

Ann Arbor Press, Michigan. International Institute of Rural Reconstruction. Grove Press, New York. Building Soils for Better Crops. Feeding the World with Sustainable Agriculture: A Summary of New Evidence. University of Essex, Colchester, England. Increasing Food Production with Participatory Development. Genetic Diversity and Disease Control in Rice. The management of agriculture and natural resources involves interactive roles of diverse social actors. These actors usually include a diversity of stakeholders including small and large farmers, business entrepreneurs, local government authorities, resource-based user groups, community-based organizations and others.

Different individuals and groups of individuals are bringing different perspectives, experiences, knowledge and interests to the management of resources, and to any associated research and development initiatives. They have different and often changing access to and control over, decision-making, and specific knowledge about natural resource management processes. These stakeholders are not homogenous or fixed groups, but differentiated by social categories of gender, class, caste, ethnicity and age.

Gender is a culturally-specific set of characteristics that identifies the social behavior for women and men and the relationship between them. Gender refers to social differences, as opposed to biological ones, between women and men that have been learned, are changeable over time, and vary widely both within and between cultures.

Gender Analysis is the systematic examination of the roles, relationships and processes between women and men in all societies, focusing on imbalances in decision-making power, wealth and workload. Gender analysis can also include the examination of the multiple ways in which women and men, as social actors, engage in strategies to transform existing roles, relationships and processes in their own interest and in the interest of others.



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