Center for Environmental Policy and Administration

Policy, Technology and Management Strategies for Achieving Sustainable Agricultural Transformation.

Author:John McPeak
Date: 2005
Publication:Agricultural Economics. With David R. Lee and Christopher B. Barrett. (forthcoming). Introduction for a special issue.

Considerable agreement exists among researchers, development practitioners, and policymakers regarding the goals of sustainable agricultural intensification (SAI). They include: achieving agricultural productivity growth, household food security, and improved rural livelihoods and employment, while simultaneously mitigating environmental degradation. However, the multiplicity of these objectives, as well as the choice of approaches to achieving them and the site- and context-specificity of specific technological and institutional interventions, assures that the research and policy challenges to achieving SAI will remain considerable. This article summarizes the contributions of the articles in this Special Issue in four areas of the literature. First, labor market constraints, the labor intensity of specific agricultural technologies and practices, and labor's substitutability, or complementarity, with other inputs are shown to widely influence their viability and related input efficiencies. Second, the articles identify specific tradeoffs and synergistic relationships that arise in the attainment of these multiple goals stemming from technologies, management practices, and policies introduced under specific agroclimatic, market, and institutional conditions. Third, these papers contribute to the literature on agricultural technology adoption by furnishing additional empirical evidence on the determinants and effects of investment behavior and adoption of specific technologies and management practices. Finally, the articles in this Special Issue emphasize that there is no single policy nor technological, management, or institutional innovation that unambiguously promotes SAI. Preferred policies must be contextualized and sensitive to initial biophysical, market, and institutional conditions.


John McPeak
Center for Environmental Policy and Administration
The Maxwell School, Syracuse University
Revised 11/05/2010 07:17:49