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Save and Grow

June 15th, 2011

A policymaker’s guide to the sustainable intensification of smallholder crop production

This book was produced under the direction of Shivaji Pandey, Director of FAO’s Plant Production and Protection Division. Lead authors are Linda Collette (FAO), Toby Hodgkin (Bioversity International), Amir Kassam (University of Reading, UK), Peter Kenmore (FAO), Leslie Lipper (FAO), Christian Nolte (FAO), Kostas Stamoulis (FAO), Pasquale Steduto (FAO)

The Green Revolution in agriculture, which occurred in the 1960’s, saved one billion people from hunger. Farmers were allowed to greatly increase their production, thanks to the introduction of high-yielding varieties, the improvement of irrigation infrastructure, the development of new management techniques, fertilizers and pesticides.

Yet these achievements are now affecting today’s agriculture and food security, since years of intensive agriculture have seriously damaged lands and their biodiversity and polluted soils and water. This has highly increased competition for land and water, and in addition, the world is now facing the tremendous threat of climate change.

“In order to grow, agriculture has to save”, the authors claim.

If farmers adopted conservation agriculture (CA), which allows them to reduce the damages caused from ploughing and tillage and protects the surface, they could save naturale resources, besides time and money. Furthermore, by combining CA with a good irrigation system, crops would need less water; hence they could obtain more crops from fewer drops.

The key of today’s agriculture is sustainable crop production intensification (SCPI), which means agriculture would preserve and enhance natural resources.

In order to achieve this goal, Governments, Policymakers and developed countries will be crucial in helping farmers test and adapt new technologies, by strengthening national programmes for plant genetic resources and seed distribution, by providing incentives for adoption of SCPI and by considerably the flow of external assistance to, and investment in, agriculture in the developing world.

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