Neil Palmer/ CIAT
Compelling discussion, commentary, stories on agriculture within thriving ecosystems.

This post is written in response to: sustainable intensification of agriculture: oxymoron or real deal?

I like the term sustainable intensification as it combines the imperative of increasing food and fibre production as well as of energy and water services with practices that steward ecosystems.

As with many such concepts it suggests that the task is simple – involving only a few rational technical and governance measures on which we can easily agree. In practice, the important issue is to identify who will operationalise sustainable intensification as well as the countless measures that need to be implemented. The measures will be diverse and will involve technology, conservation agriculture, the introduction of reporting and accounting systems, the reduction of waste, changed consumption behaviour and sustainable/ethical investment, just to name just a few.

In practice, sustainable intensification is a contentious political process. As have been the introduction of other approaches with the intention of improving productivity and ecosystem stewardship, namely:

  1. Sustainability 
  2. Integrated Water Resources Management
  3. The current Water, Energy, Food Nexus

Operationalising sustainable intensification requires that the players in food, water and sewage and energy supply chains are involved. They will be private sector players in food supply chains, private and public sector players in water and sewage supply chains and mainly private sector players in energy supply chains.

In the private sector food and fibre supply chains there are at least 10 places where leverage can be exerted to bring about sustainable intensification.

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