Assuring Food Security in Developing Countries under the Challenges of Climate Change: Key Trade and Development Issues of a Fundamental Transformation of Agriculture
Ulrich Hoffmann
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Discussion Paper No. 201 (February 2011)

In this paper, the author argues that the agricultural sector has the potential to transcend from being a problem to becoming an essential part of the solution to climate change, provided there is a more holistic vision of food security, agricultural mitigation, climate-change adaptation and agriculture’s pro-poor development contribution. What is required is a rapid and significant shift from conventional, industrial, monoculture-based and high-external-input dependent production towards mosaics of sustainable production systems that also considerably improve the productivity of small-scale farmers. The key task is to transform the uniform and high-external-input-dependent model of quick-fix industrial agriculture into a flexible approach of “regenerative” agricultural systems that continuously recreate the resources they use and achieve higher productivity and profitability of the system (not necessarily of individual products) with minimal external inputs. While extensively drawing on local knowledge and varieties, regenerative systems will marry them with modern agricultural science and extension services (be knowledge rather than chemical-input-intensive) and give a very pro-active role to small-scale farmers. The author provides examples of such regenerative agricultural systems, including restoration of degraded land in Ethiopia and the traditional highland Vietnamese production system. He notes that paving the way for mainstreaming a mosaic of sustainable agricultural production methods requires integrative learning, in which farmers and researchers in agro-ecological sciences work together to determine how to best integrate traditional practices and new agro-ecological scientific discoveries. Download the paper [pdf] …