Sustainability in Perspective uri icon

abstract

  • This paper describes issues that face practitioners of farming systems research-extension (FSRE) as they address issues of the sustainability of agriculture. First, several major interpretations of ''sustainable agriculture'' are discussed; then categories of sustainability problems are presented. Causes of unsustainability are then discussed, with a focus on the interacting roles of population pressure on resources, population growth, poverty, policy, and institutional concerns. Finally, four potential contributions of FSRE towards the sustainability of agriculture are defined and described: ''direct,'' ''adaptive,'' ''policy-oriented,'' and ''preventive'' contributions. FSRE has focused on ''direct'' farm- or community-level interventions, but the ''preventive'' contributions of new agricultural technology developed outside of FSRE have been more powerful in the past, and are likely to remain so in the future. New technology ''prevents'' resource degradation when it: helps alleviate poverty, generates additional off-farm employment and facilitates expanded food production on smaller harvested areas, thus reducing pressures on fragile lands and forest margins. Reasons are presented why FSRE is likely, at best, to make only a limited contribution to agricultural sustainability.

publication date

  • 1995
  • 1995