Knowledge for a sustainable world

Development Programme:
Sustainable Agricultural Intensification

The Sustainable Agricultural Intensification Programme objectives are to enable farmers to solve problems of rural productivity and intensify agricultural production in a sustainable and efficient manner, through knowledge enhancement, capacity development and training. To this end we have three activity themes as outlined below:

  • Farming systems that use resources more efficiently whilst increasing production and environmental resilience and reducing crop losses and negative environmental impacts.
  • Enhanced ecosystem functionality of farms and their surrounding environments, regarding pollination, pest control, biodiversity conservation and resilience to climatic change.
  • Enhanced understanding of the perspectives, incentives, benefits and barriers relating to SAI, for different farmer and stakeholder categories.

The programme uses evidence-based agricultural science, including crop ecology, farming systems research and ecosystem service evaluation integrating socioeconomic and value chain analysis to improve the lives of rural producers, and societal well-being. Our current work is focused mainly on rural smallholder communities in sub-Saharan Africa who produce for local, national and export markets, including Europe.

Our approach combines applied and farmer-participatory research to develop sustainable and productive agricultural systems addressing specific issues, like soil and water conservation, soil fertility enhancement, pest management and pollination services. The envisioned novel farm and cropping system designs resulting from this research are diverse (e.g. in terms of crop and animal species, resource use patterns) and adapted to local conditions. Assessment of the social and environmental sustainability and trade-offs associated with the intensification of productivity are used to inform policy and practices in agricultural development.

Capacity development is provided through training and knowledge exchange with farmers, extension and research services, as well as with the private sector and NGOs. This includes both formal and ad hoc training, farmer field schools, training of trainers, customised technical training courses and MSc and PhD research programmes. We also provide agricultural consultancy and R&D services to private sector companies and organisations involved in agricultural intensification.