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Invest in small-scale ‘renewable’ farming: Good for the poor and good for the planet

Victoria Wood visits MAG Lao IMG_1501

A homestead in Thachock Village, Laos (photo credit: Flickr photostream of MAG [Mines Advisory Group]).

. . . [P]olicy-makers think they have to choose between feeding the world and protecting the environment—a straight choice. Does it have to be this way? No. To the contrary—we can and must achieve both, or we will fail on both.’

Elwyn Grainger-Jones, director of environment and climate at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), makes this argument in the Guardian‘s Poverty Matters Blog this week.

‘Agriculture needs to be seen as an interaction with wider ecosystems,’ he says, ‘so that farming becomes a renewable rather than an extractive activity.’

‘[A] more sustainable approach to agriculture, with great success and huge potential to include smallholders . . . [includes] sustainable land management and conservation agriculture, agroforestry, sustainable forest management, watershed management, integrated pest management, and organic agriculture. . . .

‘In essence, these typically create or maintain healthy landscapes with maintained groundcover, diverse production systems and fertile soil that can retain moisture and nutrients. . . .

‘[T]hese techniques typically increase yields, reduce poverty, increase resilience to climate change, enhance biodiversity, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These are the “multiple-benefit”, or “multiple-win” approaches that poor rural people need. . . .

‘The problem of environmental degradation in agriculture is more serious and systemic than many previously thought. Thankfully, we have the tools and knowledge for smallholder agriculture to play a key role in feeding a growing population in a way that is good for the poor and good for the planet. Let’s invest in them.’

Read the whole article at the Guardian‘s Poverty Matters Blog: Global food crisis: Smallholder agriculture can be good for the poor and for the planet, 1 June 2011.

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