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Contribution of systems thinking and complex adaptive system attributes to sustainable food production: Example from a climate-smart village

Author

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  • Jagustović, Renata
  • Zougmoré, Robert B.
  • Kessler, Aad
  • Ritsema, Coen J.
  • Keesstra, Saskia
  • Reynolds, Martin

Abstract

Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) conceptually has the potential to contribute to the sustainable development goals of achieving zero hunger, reducing land degradation, eliminating poverty, tackling climate change, and promoting gender equality. The scaling-up needed to achieve goals of CSA represents a challenge, as it entails understanding synergies between often opposing socioeconomic and environmental priorities and trade-offs over temporal and spatial scales. In this paper, we tested new approaches to support scaling-up of sustainable food production through investigating the contribution of systems thinking as a conceptual approach and complex adaptive system (CAS) attributes as a framework for analysis of CSA. This was done through examining (i) to what extent CSA represents a CAS and (ii) what contribution systems thinking and CAS attributes can make to understanding and scaling-up sustainable food production systems through CSA. The CSA situation was conceptualized through systems thinking sessions with women farmers in the climate-smart village (CSV) of Doggoh-Jirapa, northern Ghana, and was guided by the Distinctions, Systems, Relationships and Perspectives (DSRP) framework. Systems thinking, and CAS attributes provide system-wide understanding of elements, dynamics and trade-offs over temporal and spatial scale in selected agri-food systems. As such it could aid horizontal and vertical scaling-up by informing policy developoment and selection of a context-specific portfolio of technologies and practices at landscape and farm levels to achieve synergies between goals. In this study, systems thinking enabled women farmers in the CSV to identify income-generating and tree planting activities, with desirable simultaneous system-wide impact. The paper calls for further testing of tools, approaches, and methods that enable dynamic systems thinking to inform scaling-up efforts, while embracing the transdisciplinary nature and complexity of CSA as a constituent of the food production system.

Suggested Citation

  • Jagustović, Renata & Zougmoré, Robert B. & Kessler, Aad & Ritsema, Coen J. & Keesstra, Saskia & Reynolds, Martin, 2019. "Contribution of systems thinking and complex adaptive system attributes to sustainable food production: Example from a climate-smart village," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 171(C), pages 65-75.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:agisys:v:171:y:2019:i:c:p:65-75
    DOI: 10.1016/j.agsy.2018.12.008
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Reynolds, Martin, 2008. "Response to paper "Systems Thinking" by D. Cabrera et al.: Systems thinking from a critical systems perspective," Evaluation and Program Planning, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 323-325, August.
    2. Cabrera, Derek & Colosi, Laura, 2008. "Distinctions, systems, relationships, and perspectives (DSRP): A theory of thinking and of things," Evaluation and Program Planning, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 311-317, August.
    3. Derek Cabrera & Laura Cabrera & Erin Powers, 2015. "A Unifying Theory of Systems Thinking with Psychosocial Applications," Systems Research and Behavioral Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 32(5), pages 534-545, September.
    4. Irene Monasterolo & Roberto Pasqualino & Anthony C. Janetos & Aled Jones, 2016. "Sustainable and Inclusive Food Systems through the Lenses of a Complex System Thinking Approach—A Bibliometric Review," Agriculture, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(3), pages 1-13, September.
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    1. Jagustović, Renata & Papachristos, George & Zougmoré, Robert B. & Kotir, Julius H. & Kessler, Aad & Ouédraogo, Mathieu & Ritsema, Coen J. & Dittmer, Kyle M., 2021. "Better before worse trajectories in food systems? An investigation of synergies and trade-offs through climate-smart agriculture and system dynamics," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 190(C).
    2. Bielska, Anna & Stańczuk-Gałwiaczek, Małgorzata & Sobolewska-Mikulska, Katarzyna & Mroczkowski, Robert, 2021. "Implementation of the smart village concept based on selected spatial patterns – A case study of Mazowieckie Voivodeship in Poland," Land Use Policy, Elsevier, vol. 104(C).
    3. Zhang, Qichen & Dong, Weihong & Wen, Chuanlei & Li, Tong, 2020. "Study on factors affecting corn yield based on the Cobb-Douglas production function," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 228(C).

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