IPI International Potash Institute
IPI International Potash Institute

Editorial: e-ifc No. 28, September 2011

Editorial

Dear readers,

Sustainable agriculture is now a well-known phrase used by many, including policy-makers, donors, extension workers, and even some of our farmers. However, we need to ask ourselves whether we all share the same understanding and appreciate that our perceptions and experiences may differ.

Good cotton prices drove many farmers in West Bahia (Brazil) to grow more of the crop. Photo by IPI.
Good cotton prices drove many farmers in West Bahia (Brazil) to grow more of the crop. Photo by IPI.

For farmers, sustainable agriculture means that the natural resources they use, particularly land and water, remain healthy and productive and will not only sustain their livelihoods but provide a profit and a future. In addition to measuring sustainability through environmental indicators, different production levels also pose a different set of indicators. Sustainable agriculture where productivity can be marginally increased, e.g. in W. Europe, is quite different to where a significant improvement of productivity is expected (e.g. parts of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa). Managing sustainable agriculture for these two extreme scenarios may be quite different, and so are the challenges for farmers.

The state of agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa is unique in that with very little increase of inputs, farmers can often achieve substantial increases in production. Read more about how this can be achieved in a paper from Mozambique featured in this edition. Sustainable agriculture under such conditions must also be viewed according to its ability to sustain the people that rely on these systems.

I wish you all an enjoyable read.

Hillel Magen
Director

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