Agriculture Reference
In-Depth Information
families, it is important to balance concerns for short-term profitability with long-term
sustainability, and to balance support for market-oriented production with the fulfill-
ment of dietary diversity.
The example of the quinoa boom in the Andes illustrates the idea that markets need
AEI. The international market for organic quinoa has provided Andean farmers with a
lucrative market (Kimble-Evans 2003). Because the quinoa price is high, farmers have
reduced or abandoned their traditional fallows to maximize their quinoa production,
which has in turn led to soil degradation (Medrano Echalar and Torrico 2009; Jacobsen
et al. 2011). Local quinoa consumption has declined, and it is likely that farmers sell it
and purchase less nourishing foods such as rice and wheat noodles. The reduced follow-
ing has led to a loss of soil fertility and a build-up of pests attacking quinoa. In despera-
tion, some farmers have applied pesticides, the residues of which have been detected by
buyers. This has threatened the viability of the organic markets. The failure to base the
value chain on sound AEI production principles has thus threatened the system with
nutritional, ecological, and economic collapse. It should be noted that this narrative is
contested (Winkel et al. 2012) and that further analysis of Andean agroecology is needed
to fully understand the ecological and market dynamics involved in quinoa production.
Examples illustrating the ways in which AEI needs markets would include seed systems,
diversified markets that support of crop diversification, and biological control agents. As
described above, one of the AEI research frontiers is crop improvement aimed at provid-
ing germplasm with traits such as greater resilience (e.g., drought and pest resistance,
local adaptation) and improved performance in diversified cropping systems. Ensuring
that farmers have access to seeds of the species and varieties that are likely to enhance the
performance of their production systems is one area of innovation (e.g., Dorward 2007).
Another AEI input market would be for biological control agents and biopesticides. For
example, the millet head miner is a pest of pearl millet. A very effective biological con-
trol agent has been identified and implemented by a team of national researchers (Payne
et al. 2011). For this effective and environmentally friendly pest management agent to be
made widely and sustainably available to farmers, it will need to be commercialized. The
challenge of reaching millions of resource-limited smallholders with eco-inputs such as
biological control agents and other improved component technologies is a frontier of AEI.
Building effective output markets that support crop diversification is another critical area
needed to support AEI (Shiferaw et al. 2008; Lenné and Ward 2010).
Getting from Here to There:
Making AEI Happen
Because contexts vary widely, AEI requires that strategies for local agricultural devel-
opment be tailored to local needs, objectives, capacities, and opportunities. In view of
agroecological and cultural diversity, this is a demanding proposition that requires a
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