Transforming small-scale agriculture for green economies


Source: SciDev.Net

Developing countries can only build a green economy by adopting 'profound policy reforms' to transform small-scale agriculture, argue Peter Messerli, from the Centre for Development and Environment in Switzerland, and colleagues.

The green economy — one where growth comes with environmental and economic benefits — is dominating policy debates, including those linked to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June. But there are differences between the development agendas of industrialised, transition and developing countries.

While it remains to be seen whether transition countries can develop economically with a smaller ecological footprint, the authors argue that developing countries must focus on supporting 'multifunctional agriculture' — small-scale agriculture that addresses the triple challenge of producing enough food, feed, fibre and fuel for a growing population; adapting to climate change; and mitigating climate change.

Small-scale agriculture, which provides livelihoods for 2.6 billion people in the developing world, will play a major role in supplying the extra 70 per cent of food and fodder needed to meet the needs of a growing global population. But it faces challenges from land degradation, water scarcity, and changes related to climate change such as floods and temperature extremes.

Moving towards 'multifunctional' agriculture and a successful green economy cannot be left to market-based measures alone, say Messerli and colleagues. Policies will be needed to ensure that small-scale agriculture continues to generate jobs; increases productivity without substantial consumption of fossil fuels; helps to mitigate environmental stresses; and adapts to the impacts of climate change.

Customer comments

  1. By Sean Henry on

    The reality is that scarcity of funds continues to stymie development in the rural areas that are more suitable for agricultural development. What is not mentioned in the article is the direct benefits to disadvantaged people would be substantially boosted. In Guyana, S.A, the indigenous people are the main group of rural inhabitants but they are being advised that keeping the forest intact is more beneficial without considering the needs of the people. The indigenous people are now at a crossroad where their development is more in sync with the modern world. Agriculture would definitely ensure a green economy while benefitting the people directly.