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Agroecological alternatives: Capitalising on existing genetic potentials


  • Norman Uphoff


Contemporary debates on whether or not transgenic innovations will be beneficial for the poor should consider also whether other methods could achieve the same objectives. This article discusses agroecological approaches, and specifically the system of rice intensification (SRI), which is showing that it can meet food production needs of the poor relatively quickly, simply, cost-effectively and in an environmentally-benign manner. SRI is raising yields 30-100 per cent without requiring new seeds, chemical fertilisers or agrochemicals, while using less water. Agroecological approaches are meant to obtain maximum performance from the genetic potential of agricultural plants; there is no contradiction in combining agro-ecological and biotechnological approaches to improve performance in the field. This article does not propose that agroecological approaches should substitute for transgenic methods, but does suggest that opportunities in the agroecological domain are probably being overlooked in the current preoccupation with genocentric strategies.

Suggested Citation

  • Norman Uphoff, 2007. "Agroecological alternatives: Capitalising on existing genetic potentials," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(1), pages 218-236.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jdevst:v:43:y:2007:i:1:p:218-236
    DOI: 10.1080/00220380601055700

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Namara, Regassa E. & Weligamage, Parakrama & Barker, Randolph, 2003. "Prospects for adopting system of rice intensification in Sri Lanka: A socioeconomic assessment," IWMI Research Reports 44561, International Water Management Institute.
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    1. Berkhout, Ezra & Glover, Dominic & Kuyvenhoven, Arie, 2015. "On-farm impact of the System of Rice Intensification (SRI): Evidence and knowledge gaps," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 157-166.
    2. Vikas Kumar, 2020. "Social Innovation for Agricultural Development: A Study of System of Rice Intensification in Bihar, India," Millennial Asia, , vol. 11(1), pages 99-118, April.
    3. Sakiko Fakuda-Parr & Amy Orr, "undated". "GM Crops for Food Security in Africa ñ The Path Not Yet Taken," UNDP Africa Policy Notes 2012-018, United Nations Development Programme, Regional Bureau for Africa.
    4. Clement A. Tisdell, 2014. "Sustainable agriculture," Chapters, in: Giles Atkinson & Simon Dietz & Eric Neumayer & Matthew Agarwala (ed.), Handbook of Sustainable Development, chapter 32, pages 517-531, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    5. Michael Chappell & Liliana LaValle, 2011. "Food security and biodiversity: can we have both? An agroecological analysis," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 28(1), pages 3-26, February.
    6. Glover, Dominic, 2011. "Science, practice and the System of Rice Intensification in Indian agriculture," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(6), pages 749-755.
    7. Senthilkumar, K. & Bindraban, P.S. & Thiyagarajan, T.M. & de Ridder, N. & Giller, K.E., 2008. "Modified rice cultivation in Tamil Nadu, India: Yield gains and farmers' (lack of) acceptance," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 98(2), pages 82-94, September.
    8. Soleri, Daniela & Cleveland, David A. & Glasgow, Garrett & Sweeney, Stuart H. & Cuevas, Flavio Aragón & Fuentes, Mario R. & Ríos L., Humberto, 2008. "Testing assumptions underlying economic research on transgenic food crops for Third World farmers: Evidence from Cuba, Guatemala and Mexico," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(4), pages 667-682, November.
    9. Tisdell, Clement A., 2012. "Sustainable Agriculture: An Update," Economics, Ecology and Environment Working Papers 140549, University of Queensland, School of Economics.

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