Can agricultural intensification help attain Sustainable Development Goals? Evidence from Africa and Asia

Dawson, Neil, Martin, Adrian and Camfield, Laura (2019) Can agricultural intensification help attain Sustainable Development Goals? Evidence from Africa and Asia. Third World Quarterly, 40 (5). pp. 926-946. ISSN 0143-6597

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Due to the vast numbers of the world’s poorest involved in farming, agricultural development policies play a major role in the achievement of poverty reduction globally. The intensification of agricultural production has been, and continues to be, one of the most common policy strategies for promoting human development and improving food security. Intensification efforts frequently focus on promotion of modern inputs such as seeds or fertilisers, often commonly subsidised, to promote production of different crops, often with reduced fallow periods, geared towards national markets and international export. Market-oriented intensification is also supported through a ‘land sparing’ narrative, that increased production on currently-utilised land and may reduce pressure to convert forests, wetlands and other habitats to agriculture. Market-oriented intensification is envisaged to help smallholders sell cash crops to increase incomes, move away from subsistence farming, buy more food, put children into education, invest in assets and diversify livelihoods, ultimately facilitating a move to off-farm employment. Successes have been documented through intensification programs and the ‘Green Revolutions’ they have inspired since the 1960s in Asia, Latin America and more recently in Africa. However, market-oriented intensification is not solely geared towards poverty reduction, but concurrently driven by macro-economic goals to increase national growth and exports. , with oOutcomes are presented in terms of growth in agricultural production and trade, increased yields and average incomes. Indeed, there are reasons to question impacts on the rural population, and different groups among them. Recent intensification policies considered successful based on economic impacts, including some of those currently in implementation through organisations such as the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, have been shown by in-depth research to have had negative impacts, particularly on the poorest and most marginal groups. These occur, through diminished land tenure security, curtailed subsistence production, water pollution, and impingements on cultural practices such as seed systems, modes of farming and collection of wild foods. Yet beyond academic research, the monitoring and evaluation of agricultural development strategies has rarely paid attention to such diversity of impacts on human wellbeing or their disaggregation across different social groups.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: agricultural policy,food security,land tenure,poverty,social inequality,gender
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of International Development
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 10 Jan 2019 11:30
Last Modified: 20 Mar 2020 01:24
DOI: 10.1080/01436597.2019.1568190

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