Agroecological intensification of smallholder farming uri icon


  • This chapter is from the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Food, Politics, and Society edited by Ronald Herring. The smallholder farmers who cultivate many of the planet's diverse production systems are faced with numerous challenges, including poverty, shrinking farm sizes, degrading natural resources, and climate variability and change. Efforts to improve the performance of smallholder farming systems focus on improving access to input and output markets, improving farm resource use efficiency, and improving resources invested in smallholder farming. In order to support market-oriented production and self-provisioning, there is a need for greater focus on agroecological intensification (AEI) of smallholder production systems. This chapter provides an overview of some of the research frontiers supporting AEI. Market-oriented and agroecological approaches may or may not conflict, and more effort should be made to ensure that they are mutually reinforcing. To be reliable, value chains must be founded on sound production ecology. Agroecological options may be limited if farmers cannot participate in markets that support investment in the intensification and diversification of these systems. Because options must be adapted to farmers' heterogeneous and dynamic contexts, successful AEI will require that specifics be optimized locally. Researchers must therefore understand and communicate relevant agroecological principles, and farmers and intermediaries must develop their capacity to adapt the principles to local needs and realities

publication date

  • 2013