Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Approaches which “Save and Grow” in the Horn of Africa

Save and grow
Many if not all countries of the Horn of Africa region have expressed an interest in the sustainable increase in productivity of crop production in their countries. Here, the challenge is to produce more in ways which do not compromise the future. Yields can be boosted in the short term, but practices may lead to land degradation, contamination of water resources, future pest or disease outbreaks, loss of biodiversity.

Sustainable Intensification is one of the key topics covered at the AgriKnowledge ShareFair on October 24th. 

FAO promotes practices for intensifying crop production which are not only environmentally sustainable – increasing production while conserving vital “ecosystem services” , and mitigating climate change - but which are also socially and economically sustainable. 

What does this mean, to be “socially” sustainable? A practice (such as reduced tillage) may be better for the environment, but it may also increase the amount of labour required, for instance to manage weeds. In traditional societies, land preparation may be regarded as “men’s work”, while increasing the effort for weeding may place a disproportionate and unsustainable burden on women. Similarly, for practices which are good for the environment to be adopted at scale they must also deliver economic benefits in the short term. Trade offs work both ways . Greater inefficiencies could be gained by concentrating on a small number of crops but smallholders with limited access to land have evolved highly diverse patterns of cultivation. Save and grow 2
How to address these complex challenges to the adoption of improved practices in crop production is among the topics covered in the FAO publication Save and Grow a policy makers guide to the intensification of smallholder crop production available at: http://www.fao.org/ag/save-and-grow/.

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