Intensifying Production: Reaping Multiple Benefits On and Beyond the Farm

Theoretical model of sustainable intensification

With a growing population, and increasingly dwindling natural resources and degrading ecosystems, there is increasing attention devoted to producing adequate and nutritious food while simultaneously maintaining environmental integrity. Often referred to as sustainable intensification, this notion that both productivity and long-term sustainability are critical to food security has framed much of the recent discussions on agricultural development.

Yet, a recent report by the Montpellier Panel noted that, while the intentions of sustainable intensification are generally agreed upon, the proposed means of achieving them have stimulated controversy. Different perspectives abound: some insist there is too much reliance on laboratory and technology-based innovation; others that there is great opportunity to shift toward degraded land for agricultural uses; and still others call for a melding of locally adapted farmer knowledge and training, technical innovation, and supportive institutions at multiple levels – farm, community, and across regions.

Even with the variety of priorities and perspectives adding to the discussion of sustainable intensification, it has still largely remained focused at the farm and plot level productivity, with some recent emphasis on ‘systems oriented approaches’. Over the course of the next two weeks, experts representing some of these diverse perspectives, who have studied and worked in intensive systems, will provide insight into sustainability both at farm and at landscape levels. Through their experiences in an array of agricultural landscapes – from irrigated rice fields to rangelands – the authors address the key question of ‘how does the way we think about intensifying agricultural production change when not just focused at a farm level?’

Read More:
Sustainable Agricultural Intensification: Tackling Food Insecurity in a Resource-Scarce World – By Lindiwe Sibanda and Katy Wilson

Sustainable Intensification: Unraveling the RhetoricFood Ethics Council

Sustainable Intensification in Agriculture: Navigating a Course Through Competing Food Systems – By Tara Garnett and H. Charles J. Godfray

Sustainable Intensification: A New Paradigm for African Agriculture – The Montpellier Panel 2013

Read the Full Series:
From Farm to Landscape: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Intensification – Joern Fischer

What Does ‘Intensification’ of Agricultural Production Look Like at Landscape Scale? – Norman Uphoff

Sows and Soil: Building a Sustainable and Profitable Farm – Harry Stoddart

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