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Editorial (July 2012)

What role should agriculture play in achieving a green economy? (© Neil Palmer (CIAT))
What role should agriculture play in achieving a green economy?
© Neil Palmer (CIAT)

As the dust settles after the Rio+20 Earth Summit, the jury is still out on whether the event can be claimed as a success. Many feel that the agreements were too weak and insufficient progress was made, whilst others have taken heart in the renewal of the original commitments made in 1992. On an agricultural note, the final declaration "The Future We Want" directly recognised the critical need to 'enhance food security and access to adequate, safe and nutritious food' and outlined specific areas for action.

Over 1,000 people took part in the 4th Agriculture and Rural Development Day, held as part of the Summit, to discuss the role of sustainable agriculture as an integral part of a green economy, a theme that was central to discussions at Rio+20. But is the notion of a green economy any different from the concept of sustainable development, what role should agriculture play in achieving it, and where should investment be targeted to capitalise on the most promising opportunities? Points of view presents viewpoints from some key delegates attending the Rio Agriculture Day.

Sustainable management of water in agriculture is critical to increase production, ensure water can be shared with other users and maintain the environmental and social benefits of water systems. With agriculture accounting for 70 per cent of global water consumption and with almost half of the world's population likely to be under water stress by 2050, competition for water will only increase. In this edition's Focus on and GFAR-sponsored Research and innovation sections, we highlight a variety of initiatives and approaches for the efficient and sustainable use of water in agriculture.

Rwanda is one of the few African countries to have significantly invested in agricultural development (© Neil Palmer (CIAT))
Rwanda is one of the few African countries to have significantly invested in agricultural development
© Neil Palmer (CIAT)

In My perspective, Professor Ken Giller, warns against blanket solutions for transforming African agriculture, which fail to take into account the complex constraints and circumstances experienced by smallholder farmers. One of the few African countries to have significantly invested in agricultural development is Rwanda, the subject of Country profile. An increase of agricultural production by sustainable means is detailed in Rwanda's National Strategy for Climate Change and Low Carbon Development, which includes the use of organic waste to improve soil fertility and reduce dependency on external inputs, as well as the improvement of irrigation infrastructure to optimise water usage.

Practical strategies to provide food for rapidly increasing urban populations are described by Jennifer Cockrall-King in Food and the city - Urban agriculture and the food revolution. Whilst the majority of case studies originate from developed cities, including London, Paris and Los Angeles, there is plenty to inspire and encourage those working for more sustainable cities in the developing world.

We trust that the variety of news and development articles, along with those already mentioned above, will also bring you inspiration in your vision for sustainable agricultural development. The next edition of New Agriculturist will feature ICTs in agriculture, so if you have innovations to share, please get in touch with the editorial team. We would be happy to hear your ideas for this and other future editions.

Date published: July 2012

 

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Sustainable agriculture development is still a challenging t... (posted by: Vinay Singh)

 

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