The PROIntensAfrica project has identified different pathways leading to sustainable intensification. These pathways demonstrate the richness and variety of options that are open to farmers.

These pathways have been labelled tentatively as “conventional”, “ecotechnological”, “agroecological” and “organic”.

These four pathways are of course not directly from the field nor are they possible technical packages of intensification that can be put back to the field. Rather, they form a typology of different options towards  agricultural intensification, and present contrasted characteristics in the productive, environmental, economic and social dimensions.

”The concept of pathways is used here in a double perspective: to classify the current systems, as well as to highlight the coexistence of contrasted socio-technical trajectories towards  sustainable intensification”, says Florent Maraux from Cirad.

Typology helps to identify challenges

pathwaysThe typology, already pre-identified in 2014, was revised and improved, in particular through the 17 case studies conducted during the PROIntensAfrica project. In these case studies, the researchers studied six areas through in depth studies, all concluded by stakeholder workshops, and 11 areas through a light method study.

The results of the case studies showed a trade-off between different dimensions of sustainability and intensification of agriculture.

“They also showed that the trade-offs are context dependent. Different situations call for different pathways, and there is not one supposed “optimum solution” which fits all situations”, says Florent Maraux.

The diversity of pathways might however help to identify future challenges which science and innovation need to address in order compare efficiencies, and finally to help African farmers, as well as their governments to take decissions.

“The typology helps the research and innovation stakeholders and public policy makers in positioning themselves and their  initiatives and intentions”, suggests Youssouf Camara, from CORAF.

“It is true that the pathways are not “models” that can be put directly into practice, but they allow for a structured consideration of the large diversity of intensification situations that take place on the wide continent.”

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