Knowledge for Development

Differentiated S&T strategies for improving productivity of ACP farming systems

ACP farming systems are very diverse and the scientific community must be able to provide adequate responses to meet the varied needs of small subsistence farmers who make up the majority of the ACP farming community while simultaneously addressing the needs of the medium to large-scale farming enterprises to compete on price, quality, responsiveness to changing consumer demands and reliability in supply in all markets. Therein lies the challenge as there is no one-size fits all approach that will enable researchers to respond to the needs of small scale farmers who are primarily concerned with sustainable livelihoods or medium to large-scale farms who wish to remain competitive and take advantage of any opportunities despite deteriorating environmental conditions and trade and economic restrictions. Within the last few years, the ACP region has seen a resurgence of emphasis on family farms which are being valued not only for their contribution to maintaining social order but to environmental sustainability. This dossier provides guidance and lessons learned on the need for the ACP region to apply a differentiated strategic approach for using science to enhance the performance of ACP agricultural sector.

A study, led by Oxford University scientists, compared the environmental impact of different farming systems. Results of the study show farms that aim for high food production using environmentally-friendly practices could be better for the environment than both organic and conventional farms. The researchers found that ‘integrated’ farms that maximised crop yields whilst using environmentally-friendly techniques – such as crop rotation, organic fertilisers, over winter cover crops, and minimal use of pesticides – would use less energy and generate lower greenhouse gas emissions per unit of production than both organic and conventional farms. (Physorg, 15/02/2012) 10/04/2012

Improving Productivity of ACP Farming Systems through Science & Technology

by M. Gonzalez Perez, D. Ponvert, M.E. Ruiz, M.H. Prats
The Cuban farming system is very diverse. However, despite the trade barriers and stringent economic conditions, the productivity of Cuban farms has increased through the combined efforts of scientists and farmers in developing and applying technological solutions. The reliance on biological products made from indigenous resources began in the eighties and this provided the technical foundation which expanded in the nineties when the country had limited access to high quality imported inputs. The low cost natural biological techniques which were developed as substitutes contributed to the maintenance of the ecological integrity of Cuba’s natural resource base and led to environmentally friendly sustainable agricultural production systems. These biological techniques are still being applied today. 29/06/2006
At a Caribbean Fine Flavour Cocoa Industry Commercialisation workshop held in February 2011 at the University of West Indies (St. Augustine campus in Trinidad & Tobago), the University’s Principal, Professor Clement Sankat, called for a re-conception of research priorities and practices in the Caribbean agricultural sector. Adopting a new approach in the sector would involve having a better understanding of the crop branching architecture, delivering the highest levels of productivity, and newer designs of growing systems, like the Tatura Trellis growing system adapted to cocoa trees that boost crop production per tree and lessens negative environmental effects. Revised agricultural practices should facilitate mechanisation, push for higher levels of labour productivity and help develop opportunities for higher quality employment. (Source: RIE Network, February 2011) 18/03/2011