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Toward Sustainable Agricultural Systems in the 21st Century
policy contexts within which farming systems operate. Evolving systems would need to address all four sustainability goals and be adapted to local conditions.
Research programs need to actively seek input and collaboration from farmers to ensure research being conducted and technologies tested are relevant to their needs.
Women, who play a pivotal role in African agriculture, need to be provided with educational and training opportunities and be involved in the development of research agendas.
Technologies are needed to address soil, water, and biotic constraints, but they have to be integrated with local ecological and socioeconomic processes. Use of locally available resources would have to be maximized and combined with judicious use of external inputs when necessary.
Promising technologies and approaches include soil organic matter management, reduced tillage, integrated fertility management, water harvesting, drip irrigation, stress-resistant crop varieties, improved animal breeds, integration of crops and livestock, and use of global information systems for landscape and regional analysis and planning.
Expanding market access will be essential to increase productivity and enhance livelihoods in rural Africa. Investing in rural infrastructure could improve access to local, regional, and international markets.
RECOMMENDATION: Agencies and charitable foundations that support research and development of sustainable agriculture in developing countriesshould ensure that funded programs emphasize a systems approach that reflectsthe need for adaptability of management strategies and technologies to dynamiclocal socioeconomic and biophysical conditions, and supports efforts to increasemarket access.