4. Environmentally compatible agricultural development. Resource, food and income security as a task for development and structural policy.
Publ. of German Development Institute (GDI); Berlin; 1992, 56 p. + notes
The disastrous combination of rapid population growth, under development and dwindling resources on the one hand and advancing industrialization and climatic change due to pollutants on the other calls for a change of attitude towards nature.
The value attached to nature and the organization of economic activities that use its dwindling resources need to be reconsidered. Given the multicausal linkages, this needs to be done at all levels of the economy and in almost all spheres of life in both industrialized and developing countries.
The application of purely economistic and, therefore, reductionist models to land development in the tropics and subtropics with their particularly fragile ecosystems, has had devastating effects on the natural balance, causing erosion, soil salination, soil and landscape degradation, disastrous droughts or flooding. The economic, social and demographic consequences of such anthropogenic processes of land destruction and of the climatogenic processes closely associated with them are declining yield capacities, increasing poverty and the uprooting of sections of the population, as more and more people flee the effects of environmental destruction to seek food and a living elsewhere.
Production and consumption should therefore increasingly form part of substance and energy cycles which preserve resources and that agriculture should again develop more as a form of site-specific production based on regional comparative economic-ecological cost advantages.
Agricultural development, whether in the South, where its destructive impact on the land tends to be determined by the system, or in the agricultural economies of the North, whose adverse effects on the environment tend to be compulsive, is causing rising environmental costs. In the former case, these largely consist of on-farm costs in the shape of losses of yield and output due to sheet erosion, soil salination, soil degradation or nutrient leaching; in the latter case, they consist largely of "external costs" in the shape of surface and ground water pollution, land clearance, the loss of species or the contamination of food products with chemical residues. In the debate on global warming the agricultural economies of both North and South are, moreover, accused of increasing emissions of carbon dioxide and methane due to mechanization, large-scale livestock farming and the growing of lowland rice.
If there is to be an economic-ecological and innovative-organizational move towards the progressive application of ecological standards in agriculture and forestry, a number of basic conditions will need to be met at national and international level. These conditions are outlined in this paper.
Resource stabilization and food and income security are unlikely to be achieved with individual promotional instruments, but rather as a complementary task of measures taken under price, innovation, structural and trade policies. Agricultural development policies that are socially, economically and ecologically balanced may therefore emerge from the interplay among:
- national reforms of agricultural structures and prices based on economic-ecological principles,
Agricultural development policies compatible with nature will therefore be able to prove themselves in practice only in the long term, in keeping with the general demand for globally responsible thinking and conception and locally responsible action to the benefit of the environment and international society.
Author's summary, shortened.
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Farming systems research and development
Review, USA, sustainable agriculture, downstream perspective, soil erosion control, property rights
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