VTechWorks staff will be away for the Memorial Day holiday on Monday, May 27, and will not be replying to requests at that time. Thank you for your patience.
Tracking the ecological soundness of farming systems: Instruments and indicators
MetadataShow full item record
Many farming practices degrade agroecosystems. High external-input or modern farming tends to degrade by pollution whereas traditional, low-input systems generally tend to degrade by erosion. Smallholders in Sub-Saharan Africa, the focus of this paper, are forced to degrade their natural resource base just to keep pace with growing populations. Out of fourteen cases from Senegal, Nigeria, Gambia, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Kenya only one, from Upper Machakos in Kenya, managed to restore soil fertility. Not surprisingly then, topics concerning environment and agroecosystem health find themselves getting much more attention now than ten years ago. Of particular interest are methods to evaluate and monitor changes in the ecological health or soundness of a farming system. While a number of methods exist, most are too complex for farmers to understand and operate by themselves. Not only do most methods require "experts" to run them, they also take too much of the participating farmers' time. Many of these monitoring and evaluation methods also assume a level of knowledge concerning ecologically sound farming that farmers, and many of those who advise them, often do not have. In most cases, both farmers and researchers must learn what changes to the farming system are needed to make them more ecologically sound. This paper discusses possible methodologies and presents a proposal on how to design a multistakeholder learning process for agricultural development. Methods are discussed for measuring the direct environmental impact of new farming approaches and the stakeholder partnerships that influence the outcome. Examples of possible indicators are provided for this evaluation process. Farmers can use these methods and indicators to guide the transformation of their farming systems towards a more ecologically sound future. Examples of such transformations using this approach are taken from studies of smallholder farmers in Ghana and Malawi. Two conclusions are drawn. One conclusion is that ecological soundness can bring economic growth and secondly, learning requires special social processes and institutional structures to be effective.
Showing items related by title, author, creator and subject.
Scholes, M. (Pretoria, South Africa: South African Institute of Forestry, 2002)This paper discusses the use of an ecosystems approach in the management of plantations and the concept of plantations in providing goods and services. Ecological indicators are compared for the CIFOR and South African ...
Kamwenda, G.J. (Washington, D.C.: Information Service of F.A.O., 2002)Environmental degradation resulting from extensive grazing and haphazard exploitation of rangeland forestry resources is a severe problem for the agropastoralists of Shinyanga, a northeastern region of the United Republic ...
Co-evolutionary scenarios of intensification and privatization of resource use in rural communities of south-western Niger Rovere, R.; Hiernaux, P.; van Keulen, H.; Schiere, J.; Szonyi, J. (Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier Science B.V., 2005)Agricultural production in the semi-arid agro-ecosystems of the Sahel centres on cereal staple crops and pastoralism with increasing crop-livestock integration. Animals mobilize soil fertility through manure production, ...