12 research outputs found

    Sustainable intensification – “oxymoron” or “third-way”? A systematic review

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    Sustainable Intensification (SI) is a term that has been advanced to capture a concept that some consider as the ‘third paradigm’ for global agricultural development. However, the term has become subject to intense debates as well as scepticism and confusion regarding its meaning and the characteristics of production systems that could indicate SI (defined as “indicators”). This has resulted in a proliferation of literature. We have conducted a systematic review of a sample of this literature analysing the most commonly suggested indicators of SI in order to investigate the extent to which the critiques of SI are valid in their viewpoints that SI is an oxymoron, underpinned by a productivist agenda, and to identify the critical issues in the development of a comprehensive and unambiguous set of SI indicators. From 633 articles identified by a search of relevant databases, a sample of 75 articles were selected and analysed using the NVIVOℱ software. The results were organised according to a Socio-Ecological Systems (SES) framework comprising seven sub-systems or components − resource system, resource units, governance system, resource users, interactions, outcomes, and environment. A total of 218 indicators (both positive and negative) were identified. Most of these indicators focused on the ‘outcomes’ of agricultural systems with the majority being related to agricultural production. Few indicators were identified as relating to the economic and societal dimensions of food systems. Whilst this potentially suggested a productivist bias in the current interpretation of SI it was difficult to draw a black and white conclusion, since for the other system components, the majority of the indicators suggested appeared to take a more holistic point-of-view and emphasised both productivity and sustainability of agricultural systems. Our analysis suggests that a key reason why SI may be viewed with scepticism is a lack of specificity and elucidation of the rationale, scale, and farm type for which SI is proposed. Moreover, a number of the indicators were so loosely defined that the interventions they imply could be enacted without due consideration of the social impacts of their adoption. We conclude that there is need to develop SI indicators according to specific farming types and scales and also with more consideration of the social and political dimensions of food systems in order to promote a constructive dialogue around the concept of SI to take place. Unless the concept of SI is described and measured in such a holistic and inclusive manner, it is unlikely to be accepted as a valid descriptor of sought-after agricultural practices by players in the Third Sector

    Sustainability failure of donor-supported organisational reforms in agricultural extension : a Bangladesh case study : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Agricultural Extension and Rural Development, Institute of Natural Resources, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

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    For several decades, international donor agencies have provided considerable support for organisational reforms within the agricultural extension system in Bangladesh. This support has been provided through a series of short-term projects that have experimented with a variety of novel extension systems. These have ranged from the centralised training and visit model to decentralised subdistrict based systems to an even more decentralised farmer-led extension system. They have also ranged from an extension system operated by a single government agency to systems run by a partnership between government and non-government organisations. The experimentation has also involved a country-wide or large-scale system to local or small-scale systems. Furthermore, the reforms have varied from a single organisation providing only advisory services to farmers to a constellation of organisations providing a combination of services. However, in virtually every case, when donor support was removed at the completion of a project, the extension reform was found to be unsustainable post-project. Despite the continued failure of donor sponsored extension reforms in Bangladesh, little is formally known as to why such reforms have been unsustainable. Such knowledge is critical if donor-assisted extension reforms in Bangladesh are to be effective and sustainable. Therefore, the overall aim of this study was to determine the reasons why a donor-supported extension reform becomes unsustainable in Bangladesh. From a review of literature, a conceptual framework was developed outlining the conditions/factors under which organisational systems or innovations supported through donor projects do, or do not, become sustainable. Using a qualitative single case study approach, a poorly sustained extension reform supported through a donor project was investigated in depth in Bangladesh. From this investigation, a model that explains the non-sustainability of a donor supported extension reform in Bangladesh was developed. Several theoretically important findings were identified in this study. The extension reform was poorly sustained because the principles underlying the reform lacked cultural legitimacy. This problem was compounded due to the presence of perverse institutional forces in the operational context, and because the extension agencies concerned lacked adequate human and financial resources. The sustainability of the extension reform was also compromised because of poor implementation performance, complex design, parallel modes of project implementation, a failure to develop recipient ownership, and poor capacity to learn and adapt the reform. The mechanisms by which these factors influenced the non-sustainability of the reform are described in detail. The results from this study suggest that the sustainability of donor-supported extension reforms cannot be achieved within the short time frame set out in most projects. Nor can such changes be sustainable unless they are aligned with the norms, values and traditions of extension agencies and rural people. In particular, sustainability will continue to be a serious challenge unless the perverse institutional incentives confronted by extension agencies and rural people are minimised. The donors concerned in Bangladesh should support a locally-owned and single reform idea rather than undertaking haphazard projects with varied ideas, improve inter-donor coordination and come up with a coordinated decision of not providing monetary incentives to extension agencies and rural people, support extension reforms according to the felt needs of recipients, and stop providing aid in the event of repeated failures

    Power in Global Agriculture: Economics, Politics, and Natural Resources

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    Recent events, such as the 2008 food price crisis, have focussed global attention on the agriculture and food sectors. In particular, many countries have become increasingly concerned with the issue of ensuring the security of their food supply and one key element of this is who has power within the food supply chain. Through examining three dimensions of power – Economic, Political, and Natural Resources – this paper explores where power currently lies in world agriculture and how this might change in the future. Whilst recognising that power is a somewhat abstract concept, through a process of deriving potential indicators, a picture of the distribution of power is drawn. These indicators were also used to develop a simple ‘global power index’. The power index indicates that the US and the EU dominate world agriculture in terms of economics and politics, but are potentially vulnerable in terms of their possession of natural resources. On the other hand, the emerging economies have lower political and corporate power, but seem better placed in terms of natural resources. The paper concludes by discussing the implications of these findings for the main food producing regions

    Dynamics of Innovation in Livestock Genetics in Scotland: An Agricultural Innovation Systems Perspective

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    The application of genetic selection technologies in livestock breeding offers unique opportunities to enhance the productivity, profitability, and competitiveness of the livestock industry in Scotland. However, there is a concern that the uptake of these technologies has been slower in the sheep and beef sectors in comparison to the dairy, pig and poultry sectors. This is rather paradoxical given the fact that Scotland’s research outputs in farm animal genetics are widely perceived to be excellent. A growing body of literature, popularly known as Innovation Systems theories, suggests that technological transformations require a much broader approach that transcends formal research establishments. Accordingly, this paper reports on preliminary work exploring whether and how an agricultural innovation systems perspective could help identify the dynamics of technology uptake in the livestock sectors in Scotland. Although the work has been undertaken in dairy, sheep, and beef sectors, in this paper, we provide the preliminary results obtained from a case study of the sheep sector only. The key objectives of this work were to map the sheep genetics innovation system in Scotland and identify the barriers prevailing within the system with regard to the uptake of genetic selection technologies. Although the sheep innovation system was characterised by the presence of all key domains and actors, it was found to suffer from some crucial weaknesses relating to network integration, technological infrastructure, and policies and institutional frameworks. The implications of these findings are discussed

    A Systemic Innovation Policy Framework: The Cases of Scottish and Dutch Agrifood Innovation Systems

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    Innovation and knowledge exchange are receiving increased attention among policy makers as a means to address sustainable economic development challenges (European Commission, 2011). However, a range of factors such as inappropriate structures and institutional or capabilities barriers may negatively influence the spread or direction of processes of innovation and knowledge exchange (Klein-Woolthuis et al., 2005). These problems are often referred to as systemic weaknesses or failures, and highlight the need to focus on the innovation system (IS) as a whole (Smiths and Kuhlmann, 2004; Raven et al., 2010). The purpose of the paper, using a comprehensive innovation systems failure framework, is to assess and he performance of agrifood innovation systems of Scotland and the Netherlands, through analysis of the key innovation actors (organisations, networks or influential individuals), and their key functions (research provider, intermediary etc), and those mechanisms that either facilitate or hinder the operation of the IS (known as inducing and blocking mechanisms, respectively). This framework was drawn up based on literature research and a series of semi-structured interviews and/or workshops with experts involved in the agrifood innovation systems in the two countries. The findings confirm the appropriateness of considering actors, functions, inducing or blocking mechanisms and governance instruments as analytical tools to evaluate the performance of agrifood innovation systems. In both countries, blocking mechanisms in terms of actors’ interactions and competencies as well as market and incentive structure were revealed. The proposed mix of governance mechanisms in each country offers actors a better chance to influence the direction and speed of innovation in agrifood systems