Assessments of synergistic outcomes from sustainable intensification of agriculture need to include smallholder livelihoods with food production and ecosystem services

Chuan Liao, Daniel G. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Humanity faces a grand challenge as we seek to enhance food production, improve livelihoods, and preserve ecosystems. Existing frameworks of sustainable agricultural intensification offer the promise of balancing food production with sparing land for nature, but are too narrowly focused to address all dimensions of the challenge. To this debate, we contribute a synthetic discussion of the broader goals of sustainable intensification, arguing that it is necessary to incorporate improvement of smallholder wellbeing as an explicit goal of sustainable intensification. Many of the rural lands available for increased food production are currently farmed by smallholders whose livelihoods will be affected by changes in production systems. Evidence suggests that expected income benefits to smallholders do not always materialize, come at the cost of other dimensions of livelihoods, or are distributed unevenly. Innovative combinations of different strategies such as revitalization of abandoned farmlands, changes in consumer diet regimes, ecological intensification, enhancement of diversification and agricultural extension services, and strong local institutions under the backdrop of economic globalization can be harnessed to increase land-use efficiency, thus meeting the goals of providing sufficient food while reconciling environmental conservation with improved smallholder wellbeing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-59
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Environmental Sustainability
Volume32
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2018

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smallholder
food production
ecosystem service
livelihood
agriculture
food
agricultural extension
agricultural intensification
diversification
production system
globalization
land use
agricultural land
conservation
income
regime
diet
efficiency
ecosystem
economics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)

Cite this

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abstract = "Humanity faces a grand challenge as we seek to enhance food production, improve livelihoods, and preserve ecosystems. Existing frameworks of sustainable agricultural intensification offer the promise of balancing food production with sparing land for nature, but are too narrowly focused to address all dimensions of the challenge. To this debate, we contribute a synthetic discussion of the broader goals of sustainable intensification, arguing that it is necessary to incorporate improvement of smallholder wellbeing as an explicit goal of sustainable intensification. Many of the rural lands available for increased food production are currently farmed by smallholders whose livelihoods will be affected by changes in production systems. Evidence suggests that expected income benefits to smallholders do not always materialize, come at the cost of other dimensions of livelihoods, or are distributed unevenly. Innovative combinations of different strategies such as revitalization of abandoned farmlands, changes in consumer diet regimes, ecological intensification, enhancement of diversification and agricultural extension services, and strong local institutions under the backdrop of economic globalization can be harnessed to increase land-use efficiency, thus meeting the goals of providing sufficient food while reconciling environmental conservation with improved smallholder wellbeing.",
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AB - Humanity faces a grand challenge as we seek to enhance food production, improve livelihoods, and preserve ecosystems. Existing frameworks of sustainable agricultural intensification offer the promise of balancing food production with sparing land for nature, but are too narrowly focused to address all dimensions of the challenge. To this debate, we contribute a synthetic discussion of the broader goals of sustainable intensification, arguing that it is necessary to incorporate improvement of smallholder wellbeing as an explicit goal of sustainable intensification. Many of the rural lands available for increased food production are currently farmed by smallholders whose livelihoods will be affected by changes in production systems. Evidence suggests that expected income benefits to smallholders do not always materialize, come at the cost of other dimensions of livelihoods, or are distributed unevenly. Innovative combinations of different strategies such as revitalization of abandoned farmlands, changes in consumer diet regimes, ecological intensification, enhancement of diversification and agricultural extension services, and strong local institutions under the backdrop of economic globalization can be harnessed to increase land-use efficiency, thus meeting the goals of providing sufficient food while reconciling environmental conservation with improved smallholder wellbeing.

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