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Beyond the land sparing vs. land sharing framework: Views from agricultural scientists


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Presented by Frédéric Baudron at the 54th Annual Meeting of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC) in Mérida, Yucatán (Mexico) on July 11, 2017. This presentation was part of the Agrarian Change Project Symposium: The impacts of agrarian change on local communities: Sharing experience from the field.
SUMMARY: In the last decade, the land sparing and land sharing approaches have provided the main framework for policy makers to debate and act on the impact of agriculture on nature. This framework has been useful in bringing attention to this issue; but it has been driven mainly by conservation ecologists. As agricultural scientists with practical experience in developing, testing and promoting alternative forms of agriculture in some of the most biodiversity-rich areas of Latin America, Eastern and Southern Africa and South Asia, the authors of this paper argue that the framework suffers from a number of limitations when considering farming and rural livelihoods. Four of these limitations are explored in four separate sections: (1) the lack of pragmatism and flexibility when considering agriculture, (2) the lack of consideration for what happens after the farm gate and for farmers’ objectives, (3) the lack of consideration for synergies between agriculture and biodiversity, and (4) the overly mechanistic way the framework links agriculture to biodiversity. In each section, approaches to overcome these limitations are proposed, and illustrated with concrete examples from Latin America, Eastern and Southern Africa and South Asia.

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Beyond the land sparing vs. land sharing framework: Views from agricultural scientists

  1. 1. Beyond the land sparing vs. land sharing framework: Views from agricultural scientists Frédéric Baudron, Systems Agronomist, CIMMYT Zimbabwe 54th Annual Meeting of the ATBC, Merida, 11th July 2017
  2. 2. Norman Borlaug: ‘Father of the Green Revolution’, 1970 recipient of the Nobel Peace Price, and CIMMYT icon
  3. 3. The ‘Borlaug hypothesis’
  4. 4. Land sparing vs. sharing: Main conceptual framework used to explore the relations between biodiversity & food production Land sparing Land sharing • Land Sparing (a.k.a. Borlaug hypothesis) – Maximizing yield to minimize the area farmed – Segregation of land uses • Land Sharing (a.k.a. wildlife-friendly farming) – Low external input use and retention of patches of natural habitat – Integration of land uses
  5. 5. Framework developed (and used) by conservation ecologists, not by agronomists Biased toward biodiversity outcomes and suffers from a number of limitations when considering farming and rural livelihoods: 1. Opposes high-yielding industrial agriculture with low-input agriculture – Lacks pragmatism and flexibility when it comes to the management of agricultural systems (complex, subject to shocks and risks, etc) 2. Places too much emphasis on tradeoffs between agriculture and biodiversity – Ignores synergies (operating at the levels of rural livelihoods and landscape mosaics) 3. Focuses on yield – Does not give enough consideration to inefficiencies along the food chain (e.g., post-harvest, distribution, consumption) and to farmers’ objectives (which may be different from yield maximization)
  6. 6. Use of external inputs does not have to imply environmental pollution 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 0 50 100 150 200 250 Soilloss(tha-1yr-1) Conventional tillage Conservation agriculture Date (days after planting) (from Baudron et al., 2015)
  7. 7. Ecosystem processes crucial to all agricultural systems, not only low-input ones
  8. 8. Soil formation, nutrient cycling & water retention Pest & disease control Pollination Regulation of biogeochemical & hydrological cycles and climate Retention of patches of non- crop habitat ‘Sparing’ critical ecosystems (large areas or networks of smaller areas) Reduced tillage, agroforestry, efficient use of agrochemicals Ecosystem processes crucial to all agricultural systems, not only low-input ones
  9. 9. 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 1 10 30 Numberofantscaptured inpitfalltraps Distance to dense hedgerow (m)(from Kebede et al., submitted) 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 0 2 4 6 8 Grainyield(tha-1) Distance from the trunk (m) 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 00:00 02:00 04:00 06:00 08:00 10:00 12:00 14:00 16:00 18:00 20:00 22:00 AirTemperature(°C) Maintaining ecosystem processes to support food production: examples from Ethiopia (from Shiferaw et al., submitted)
  10. 10. • Forest food • NTFPs for local consumption or trade • Fuelwood • Grazing Complementarity between forest use and agriculture for rural livelihoods
  11. 11. + + + - + (from Baudron et al., 2017) + + 4 5 6 7 8 Near Intermediate Distant Householddietarydiversityscore Distance to the forest χ2 = 110.68 P < 0.0001 Forest sustaining agriculture and dietary diversity: flows of nutrients from forest to farms
  12. 12. Agricultural landscapes with high tree cover may not be the least productive (from Baudron et al., in prep)
  13. 13. Agricultural landscapes are not ‘contribute to the maintenance of species of high conservation value (from Baudron et al., in prep) Wattled Ibis Ethiopian boubou Blue-breasted bee-eater White-rumped babbler
  14. 14. Reducing food losses and wastes is as important as increasing yield: improved storage & transport in Kenya The first mile for high value agricultural commodities in Kenya: • 0.4 to 10 % of the logistic chain length • but 20 to 37 % of the transport cost The adoption of metal silos in Kenya: • Reduces grain loss by an average of 150 to 200 kg per household • Allowes households to store grain until prices are high
  15. 15. Increasing yield may not be the primary objective of farmers • In agricultural frontiers: immigrant land appropriation (i.e. appropriation through cultivation; Baudron et al., 2011) and land speculation (Fearnside, 1999) • Labour productivity more important than land productivity in sparesely populated areas (Baudron et al., 2012) • Farming style (Van der Ploeg, 1994; Leeuwis, 1993)
  16. 16. Conclusions • Agrochemicals vs. ecosystem processes? We need both! • Let’s not forget about synergies between agriculture and biodiversity… • There is more to farming than maximizing yield and profit!
  17. 17. Thank you for your interest!