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Sustainable Farming Boosts World's Poorest Farmers, Study Says

Web Note: This study is the same one reported in an article we posted Dec. 8, 2006  from GM-watch. The full citation is included at the end of the article.

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A new study (read abstract here, read full sudy here (subscription required)) indicates that sustainable farming techniques such as crop rotation and organic can help eliminate poverty for farmers living in the world’s poorest countries.

The research, carried out by international scientists over four years, found an average 79% increase in crop yields. The study was published in Environmental Science and Technology, and examined over 280 projects in 57 developing nations.

In addition, pesticide and water use were reduced, resulting in more profits for the farmer (less money spent on chemicals) and a higher reserve of water resources to counter droughts when they occur.

Professor Jules Pretty of the University of Essex, who co-authored the report, feels that it raises doubts about the commonly accepted view that the West is the authority on agricultural matters. “In many ways farmers in developing countries are leading the way,” he said.

The sustainable farming methods, which work with the local biodiversity, promote the development of healthy soil. Elements such as predators, parasites and multiple cropping are conjoined for effective pest management. Healthy soil, containing more organic matter, is also more effective at holding water.

“In essence, it allows the ecosystem to deliver the pest management services,” Pretty said.

Pretty would like to see governments learn from this research, and practice similar improved land management. Most of these methods were applied without any official policy mandates. “If there was more central support then we would expect to see these sorts of techniques and ideas spread more rapidly.” (SOURCE: BBC News)

Full Citation:


Resource-Conserving Agriculture Increases Yields in Developing Countries.

J. N. Pretty, A. D. Noble, D. Bossio, J. Dixon, R. E. Hine, F. W. T. Penning de Vries, and J. I. L. Morison

. Environ. Sci. Technol.; 2006; 40(4) pp 1114 - 1119; (Policy Analysis) DOI: 10.1021/es051670d

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