The relevance of the MFCAL concept to enabling the agricultural sector to respond to the specific global problems of climate change, desertification, biodiversity, water quality and availability and pollution, encouraging beneficial impacts, limiting harmful impacts on the surrounding environment, increasing reliance on renewable resources, and taking account of possible cumulative impacts, is illustrated in the box below.
For the whole of the environmental function, however, the MFCAL concept can guide the process of optimising linkages between agriculture and the biological and physical properties of the natural environment. The reinforcement of the capacities of local institutions to ensure the sustainable management of local resources is crucial. In order to stimulate investment and longer-term planning, farmers must be confident that they have adequate rights of ownership, managed access or other tenure arrangements.
When rights of access to the resources are unclear, obsolete, or relegated by other forms of rights, or not honoured, the users are more likely to use resources for their own immediate interest. The resources may not be managed sustainably, not renewed and ultimately become depleted. This applies equally to forests, rangelands, water, fisheries and wildlife. Such conditions inevitably give rise to conflicts. Enduring resolution of conflicts requires a respect for the rules, whether these rules are set out in a new contract established among the users themselves, or in relation to the state and other actors.
In all these cases, a system for monitoring and imposing penalties in the event of a breach of rules is necessary. Agriculture can help to combat the greenhouse effect, primarily through a better management of nitrate fertiliser use and by substituting carbon through the use of biofuels. Significant reductions in burning and surface exposure through some forms of ploughing can cut CO 2 emissions.
Also, more intensive use of organic matter can contribute to carbon sequestration in the soils, which is one of the natural functions of cultivated ecosystems. This is where the multifunctional character of agriculture and a number of joint potential benefits can be directly exploited. Policies to stimulate new practices could combine producer training with the provision of financial incentives. The Kyoto and Buenos Aires negotiations on the Climate Convention are moving policies towards such measures.
These include the "Clean Development Mechanism" and proposed mechanisms for an "emission rights" market. Whatever instruments are chosen, the availability of financing will make it possible to encourage the spread of carbon-fixing, substitution and reductions in emissions. Such measures presuppose significant institutional capacity for negotiation and mediation. Successful examples demonstrate that people often have a keen awareness of the problems involved and are ready to accept solutions demanding great effort, both in terms of physical investment and demonstrations of good will in negotiation and performance.
Negotiations should cover all dimensions of proposed transformations, with responsibilities, tasks and beneficiaries defined in detail. Different agricultural practices may impact on biological diversity positively or negatively. Integrated Pest Management, for example, may preserve natural predators.
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Conservation of soil organic matter may have synergistic effects by stabilising natural predator populations through supporting their alternative food sources. Use of traditional landraces may help to conserve genetic resources of global importance to farm crops. Changes in agricultural practices, and new technologies, may enhance or reduce agricultural biological diversity. At the national and regional levels, public water-basin management agencies can design and adopt the necessary incentive measures and instruments.
Internationally, promoting joint improvements in the management of international waters is based on conventions and through financial mechanisms such as the Global Environment Facility. Agriculture remains a principal force in sustaining the operation and growth of the whole economy, even in highly industrialised societies with small farm populations. Investment or some new activity, linked for example to production diversification or to an increased level of activity, can generate economic effects both upstream and downstream of agriculture and related land use.
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On the demand side, agriculture requires inputs in the form of labour, various services and financial capital. As outputs, agriculture supplies products and services which are processed, transported, marketed and distributed. There are multiple linkages to other sectors. All these economic effects can be estimated using national accounting and economic calculations. Assessment of the benefits and impacts of agriculture goes well beyond the primary production function. Valuation of various functions includes projections of potential short, mid and long-term benefits.
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The level of institutional development is crucial, as are the potentials of the sustainable natural resource base for goods and services. Rural areas are associated with notions of "culture," "tradition," and "identity. However, agrarian communities have undergone dramatic transformations. For example, labour migration to cities and linkages to these centres have major impacts on rural incomes and resources. In the most marginal agricultural zones, the resident populations have become dependent on a permanent exchange with and remittances from the exterior. Ties to urban and often international markets are consistent features of rural economies.
The enduring and emerging dynamics between rural and urban areas can be taken into account in analyses based on the MFCAL concept. The MFCAL concept has the advantage of not focusing strictly on production as the single, or even necessarily the most important, agricultural function for contemporary rural societies.
The approach extends to a range of activities in relation to the land and the resource base, including caretaking of vital natural features, sustaining secondary and tertiary activities related to agriculture and land, maintenance of the historical and cultural heritage, recreation and returning retirement migration. The integrity of local and national cultures is often rooted in systems of belief and understanding that have gradually emerged in rural areas.
Social viability thus does not depend on the "food function" alone. The importance of the social function becomes evident when considering rural areas in the most industrial nations, which have only modest direct importance for employment and national revenues. However, the socio-cultural functions of agriculture and land apply equally to many mid-level income countries, as well as to other rural societies tied to urban areas or to other forms of activity for revenues.
The social aspects of urbanisation and out-migration must also be considered, without a preconceived view of the relative merits or disadvantages of these processes. Another entire range of issues is associated with questions regarding the general well-being of rural populations. Descriptions at multiple scales and levels can capture the considerable local variations in social conditions, as well as specifying vital linkages to sub-regional and other levels.
In documenting experience, assessment can extend to the importance of questions related to gender, age, stratification, social categories, equity, differential access to resources and relative opportunity. The results of the analysis can be used to evaluate and influence the direction of future interventions regarding agriculture, taking into account the need to maintain the basic services and economic opportunities needed to keep rural areas attractive to community members. These include schools, dispensaries and other health services, security, communication, roads and transport.
The availability of information and education can also fall into the social function, though these issues cut across the spectrum of functions. Of particular importance is the valuation of local knowledge and the forging of relationships between local communities and external sources of expertise, information and advice. The effectiveness of policies on public information depends on the existence of an expression of the collective will of local people to ensure that their society can continue living in a sustainable manner.
This will may be explicit if articulated by the local leadership or implicit when the growth and development of local activities create a favourable state of mind in the community. Where agriculture has become highly specialised and makes highly intensive use of inputs produced by the chemical industry, landscapes have changed considerably and in some cases pollution has become widespread. People in certain societies, particularly when these are industrialised and with high incomes, have gradually developed a preference for forms of agriculture which at least partly preserve historic landscapes and reduce pollution.
Demand is expressed in different ways: in political terms, by the emergence of "green" parties and platforms, nature conservation groups or associations, and in market terms by the emergence of a demand for agro-related tourism and high quality products. Such demand can be manifested both in a private and in a public form. There is an increasingly clear demand for "traditional" and artisanal, farmed products. In order to meet demand, quality must be certified through controlled denomination of origin, compliance with technical specifications, and effective quality control.
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In order to obtain these products, consumers are willing to pay a higher price than that of an equivalent standard product. Producers must follow stricter regulations for some products for example, in the care and feeding of animals.
But the demand for landscape and rural culture conservation cannot always be fully expressed by the demand for the produce of the land. There is also a demand which has all the features of a public demand: amenities to which everyone has access non-exclusion. This is the case with rural landscapes. Some of these amenities can be expressed in the form of a demand for tourism and leisure hotels, restaurants, museum visits, entertainment.
Maintenance of demand requires preservation of the visual aspects of the original landscape earthworks or pre-existing infrastructure, hedges, trees and forest groves, use of local materials for construction and techniques, etc. Even intensely transformed landscapes with high population pressures, such as coastal and other waterfront areas, are increasingly under modification to recapture their original character. Stakeholder preferences and actions regarding goods and services are expressed directly through markets, and indirectly through public institutions local, state or other mediators.
They are central to issues of effective leadership, decision-making and empowerment at the local level, and at sub-regional and national levels.
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At the local level, the stakeholders are the farmers and other groups directly engaged in production, as well as groups in management and landholding. Those active in non-agricultural rural services such as banking and administration are also involved. The majority were small, mixed units of less than 50 acres, with cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry as well as some arable crops. Before the age of state protection farmers needed to grow a range of products for financial security. If the price of any one product collapsed, there were others to buffer them against ruin. Economically this mixed-farm structure was extremely stable.
It also happened to produce a vigorous and attractive countryside, rich in wildlife and largely free of pollution. Clearing of forest lands for agriculture and slash-and-burn agriculture are major contributors to carbon emissions. Agro-forestry and sustainable livelihoods based on forestry, including non-wood products, are excellent alternatives.
Many techniques have already been tested and used, including managing watersheds using water storage techniques, anti-runoff techniques, planting trees and soil fixation species and water control earthworks. Implementation requires detailed technical co-ordination for consistent implementation and production of synergistic effects. In order to succeed, land and natural resource owners and users must agree on how the work is to be carried out, financed and scheduled.
Local communities can benefit as a whole from these developments, but individuals and social groups can lose and gain to differing degrees. Biodiversity Agriculture has major impacts on biodiversity, on-farm and off-farm. Crop and livestock genetic resources provide the main productive elements of agriculture, and the genetic diversity within crops and livestock allows continued improvement and adaptation to changing needs through evolution and deliberate breeding. At another level, many components of biodiversity provide essential ecological services to agricultural production systems: soil organisms ensure nutrient cycling, and natural predators provide for pest control, for example.
Diversity at the ecosystem or landscape level is also often important in providing for stability in production systems. Agriculture can make a major contribution to water storage through conservation techniques on the land. Individual and local gains are linked to common social benefits. Official publication website can be found on muni. Faculty of Social Studies. You are running an old browser version. We recommend updating your browser to its latest version.
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