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SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE Prepared by: Mr. BAKARI A. MRUTU The Nelson Mandela AIST Arusha Tanzania


Introduction Sustainable agriculture is a management system for renewable natural resources that provides food, income, and livelihood for present and future generations while maintaining or improving the economic productivity and ecosystem services of these resources . Sustainability rests on the principle that we must meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Therefore , stewardship of both natural and human resources is of prime importance.

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Sustainable agriculture has different meanings for different people. For some, it means continuing present farming methods; for others, the focus is on ecological integrity at the expense of any other concerns. In many developed nations, the concept of sustainable agriculture blends basic economic concerns, conservation, and maintenance or improvement of the resource base. The motivation is derived primarily from environmental and ecological concerns. In developing countries, farmers' immediate concerns include improving crop yield, increasing crop diversity, and increasing income .

Factors of Sustainable Agriculture:

Factors of Sustainable Agriculture Sustainable agriculture is a function of the following factors, which apply in developed as well as developing countries: The economic viability of the enterprise; profitability is the fuel which drives the system, regardless of its size. The manageability of the system; it varies from individual farmers and their farms to the policymakers of the country. The political desirability of the system; attitudes range from indifference to centralized control. The physical resource base; the nature and properties of the land are manipulated through management . The social acceptability; this is determined by the compromise between individual, cultural, and institutional values.

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The applied technology; the response depends on the kinds and levels of inputs. Changes in sustainability are not progressively positive; rather, they tend to advance in fits and starts. A dynamic process; the results at any one time become the basis for the next phase of development. The level of sustainability at any one time or place determines the pace of progress. The environmental integrity of the system; acceptable levels of both on- and off-site damage resulting from practices must be included in the system. The intergenerational equity guaranteed by the system. The flexibility of the system to respond to episodic events such as soil erosion, extremes of weather, and fluctuating world markets.

Elements of Sustainable Agriculture:

Elements of Sustainable Agriculture Agro-forestry: Land use systems that integrates woody perennials with crops and/or animals on the same land. The integration can be either in a spatial mixture/temporal sequence Mixed Farming: Mixing of different crops or animals in one farming enterprise. Multiple Cropping: Growing two or more crops in the same piece of land, during the same season. (Mixed, Double or Relay cropping) Crop rotation: Growing two or more dissimilar or unrelated crops in the same piece of land in different seasons

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Sustainable crop production practices: Selection of species and varieties those are well suited to the site and to conditions on the farm; Diversification of crops (including livestock) and cultural practices to enhance the biological and economic stability of the farm; Management of the soil to enhance and protect soil quality; Efficient and humane use of inputs; and Consideration of farmers' goals and lifestyle choices.

Agro-environmental Problems-DCs:

Agro-environmental Problems-DCs Land d egradation: Soil erosion & landslides, Improper irrigation & flooding Urbanization, road construction & mining Climate change: e.g. global warming Deforestation: Removal of forest cover leading to desert Plasticulture: using plastic materials in agricultural practices which raises problems in recycling Pollutants: agricultural chemicals due to use, misuse, or ignorance leading to Soil contamination Water pollution Air pollution due to spray drift Genetically modified organism (GM O): Introduce novel gene to the environment

Constraints in Sustainable Agriculture:

Constraints in Sustainable Agriculture Absence of economic incentives from the government policy making level to that of the farmer . Lack of awareness, not only at the farm level but also at higher levels in the society: Even if the farmers are willing and able, extension services are poor or nonexistent in most developing countries. In many developing countries, particularly in Africa, research and development in agriculture are inadequate and suffer from lack of trained personnel, facilities, and motivation. Most researches are donor-supported.

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Poor information base in developing countries: reasons for non-sustainability should be known, there should be sufficient information on the resource base to target activities that will foster sustainability, and the resource base should be monitored to evaluate sustainability. Land use: Conversion of agricultural land to urban uses is a concern as rapid growth and escalating land values threaten farming on prime soils. Existing farm land conversion patterns often discourage farmers from adopting sustainable practices and a long-term perspective on the value of land.

Challenges for the Future of SA:

Challenges for the Future of SA Enhancing productivity while maintaining environmental soundness and attaining intergenerational equity is enormous for the low-input, resource-poor farmers of developing countries. Sustainable agriculture calls for educating farmers; emphasizing the long-term consequences of their traditional methods of agriculture; and helping them develop and implement innovative, appropriate farming practices. Appropriate incentives are essential.

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The stability of the global ecosystem requires an unequivocal commitment to long-term support of sustainable agriculture. The alternative to sustainable agriculture is degradation of the resource base, loss of biodiversity, environmental pollution, reduction of the population-supporting capacity for humans and animals, and a general decrease in the quality of life for all living things on this planet. Because sustainable agriculture cannot be achieved overnight, institution building takes on added significance. Many developing countries still do not have detailed information on the resource base; consequently, data bases must be developed and techniques instituted to monitor resources. Likewise, a cadre of highly trained professionals backstopped by adequate facilities is needed to conduct effective resource inventories.

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Equally important is the creation of awareness. Private organizations are generally equipped to provide such services but must have funds to carry out their activities. As the world population increases, additional land will have to be cultivated, and this gives added importance to sustainable agriculture. Major causes of land degradation: overgrazing on rangeland, over cultivation of cropland, water logging and salinization of irrigated land, and deforestation; all result from poor land management and should, therefore, be able to be controlled.

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Although effective technologies that prevent or reduce land degradation either exist or are being developed, their application is still constrained by institutional and societal barriers. Lasting solutions can be rooted as much in social and economic reform as in effective technologies. In the Tropics, as elsewhere, the current prospects for institutionalizing development strategies for sustainable agriculture are unique challenges awaiting creative and committed solutions.

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