Thursday, September 14, 2006

Is Organic Agriculture Pro-Poor?

Of the world's 1.09 billion extremely poor people, about 74% or 810 million live in marginal areas and rely on small-scale agriculture for their livelihood. In most developing countries, agriculture continues to be the most important sector of the economy, accounting for the biggest proportion of employment. As such, unless effective strategies for agriculture development are successfully implemented, ending rural poverty will remain a distant goal.

During the past few decades, the Green Revolution has brought about significant changes in the world's food production systems. It is recognized that while the Green Revolution has benefited better-off farmers in irrigated areas, it has by-passed the poor in marginal areas. Low-external input sustainable agriculture (LEISA) has long been viewed as an alternative for areas where the Green Revolution technologies are not feasible. More recently, one particular alternative that has gained interest is organic agriculture, due to its commercial viability. Most farmers in marginal areas practice traditional agriculture methods using very little or no agrochemicals. By adopting organic agriculture (OA), which requires less financial inputs while placing more reliance on natural and human resources, farmers could move towards more sustainable agricultural practices. Improving the agricultural production system in marginal areas in a sustainable manner and providing market access for the poor hold the key to the mass reduction of poverty...

Sununtar Setboonsarng
Asian Development Bank Institute

Download full paper "Organic Agriculture, Poverty Reduction, and the
Millennium Development Goals"



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