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What can organic agriculture contribute to sustainable development? – Long-term farming system comparisons in the tropics?

Zundel, Christine; Kilcher, Lukas and Mäder, Paul (2007) What can organic agriculture contribute to sustainable development? – Long-term farming system comparisons in the tropics? In: Tielkes, E. (Ed.) Utilisation of diversity in land use systems: Sustainable and organic approaches to meet human needs: international research on food security, natural resource management and rural development; book of abstracts, Cuvillier Verlag, Göttingen.

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Summary

Organic agriculture is an option that interests agricultural stakeholders because it combines environmental conservation with low-cost technology and access to premium price markets. The organic farming system has proven its advantages in terms of resource efficiency, ecosystem functioning, soil fertility conservation and economic impact in a wide range of experiments and studies in the developed countries of the temperate zones. In low-income countries of the tropics, meanwhile, NGOs and farmers’ groups are now increasingly adopting organic techniques as a means of improving productivity and food security. Despite the high demand from producer organizations, development agencies, national authorities and international donors for sound data on the agronomic, ecological and economic performance of organic agriculture in developing countries, systematic comparison of organic and conventional farming systems has not so far been carried out and therefore few if any long-term assertions can be made in this regard. The Research Institute of Organic Farming (FiBL), together with its partners, is presently establishing long-term comparisons of farming systems in various agro ecological and agro-economic contexts to study the different parameters that are essential for sustainable development. To date, three study areas have been selected: (a) a sub-humid area in Kenya where farming is subsistence-oriented; (b) a semi-arid area in India where cotton is produced for the export market; and (c) a humid area in Bolivia where perennial fruits and cacao are produced for the domestic and export markets. The key elements in these comparisons are precise long-term field trials. These are complemented by farm surveys and short-term trials under on-farm conditions. This network of comparison of farming systems in the tropics is expected to (1) put the discussion regarding the benefits and drawbacks of organic agriculture on a rational footing; (2) help to identify challenges for organic agriculture that can then be addressed systematically; (3) provide physical reference points for stakeholders in agricultural research and development and thus support decision making and agricultural policy dialogue at different levels.


EPrint Type:Conference paper, poster, etc.
Type of presentation:Paper
Keywords:Internationale Zusammenarbeit, Langzeit-Systemvergleiche in den Tropen, ökologischer Landbau, organic farming, Syscom
Subjects:"Organics" in general
Knowledge management > Education, extension and communication
Research affiliation: Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > International Cooperation
Deposited By: Zundel, Christine
ID Code:13303
Deposited On:23 Mar 2008
Last Modified:14 Aug 2011 16:33
Document Language:German - Deutsch
Status:Published
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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