Land Resources and Productivity Potential - Agro-Ecological Methodology for Agriculture Development Planning

Shah, M.M., Higgins, G.M., Kassam, A.H., & Fischer, G. (1985). Land Resources and Productivity Potential - Agro-Ecological Methodology for Agriculture Development Planning. IIASA Collaborative Paper. IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria: CP-85-014

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Understanding the nature and dimension of the land and water resources for food and agriculture development and the policies available to develop them have been the focal point of the work of the Land and Water Division of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations and the Food and Agriculture Program at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.

As we anticipate over the coming decades a technological transformation of agriculture which will be constrained by resource limitations and which could have serious environmental consequences, a number of important questions arise: (a) What is the stable, sustainable production potential of the world? of regions? of nations? (b) How does this production potential in specific areas (within countries as well as groups of countries) compare to the food requirements of the future populations of these areas? potential? (c) What alternative transition paths are available to reach desirable levels of this production potential? (d) What are the sustainable and efficient combinations of techniques of food production? (e) What are the resource requirements of such techniques? (f) What are the policy implications at national, regional and global levels of sustainability?

Stability and sustainability are both desirable properties of agricultural land resources development, inter-generational equity as well as of political stability and peace.

We hold ecological considerations to be of critical importance in answering the questions posed above. Limits to food production are set by soil and climatic conditions and by the use, and management, of the land. In the long term, any "mining" of land beyond these limits will result in degradation and decreased productivity. Accordingly, there are critical levels of production obtainable, in perpetuity, from any given land area and hence critical levels of populations that can be supported from this area. It is crucial to take account of the physical resource base for potential production as well as the socio-economic aspects that will influence the actual production.

The population and land resources study, carried out by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in collaboration with the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, with funding from the United Nations Fund for Population Activities, is concerned with the quantitative evaluation of the land resources' food productive capacity on the basis of soil, climate and crop data under specified technological conditions. The methodology and resource data base developed within this study provides a first approximation of the food production potentials and the population supporting potentials for 117 countries in five regions of the developing world.

The most fruitful and promising avenue for further work and application of the methodology is in relation to detailed country case studies. The aim of this report is to describe the agro-ecological methodology and specify the data needs, with special emphasis on methodological and data refinements for detailed country agricultural planning studies. The report should be of particular interest and use to institutions in countries considering an ecological--technological--economic approach to the planning of agricultural development.

Item Type: Monograph (IIASA Collaborative Paper)
Research Programs: Food and Agriculture (FAG)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 01:56
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:12

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