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  • Elsa Santos
    http://newsvote. bbc.co.uk/ mpapps/pagetools /print/news. bbc.co.uk/ 1 /hi/sci/tech/ 4716224.stm Eco-farming helps world s poor By Mark Kinver BBC News
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 7, 2006
      http://newsvote. bbc.co.uk/ mpapps/pagetools /print/news. bbc.co.uk/ 1\
      /hi/sci/tech/ 4716224.stm

      Eco-farming 'helps world's poor'
      By Mark Kinver
      BBC News science and nature reporter

      Sustainable farming methods can help the poorest farmers in
      developing nations out of poverty, new research suggests.
      Scientists found that techniques such as crop rotation and
      organic farming increased crop yields by an average of 79%,
      without risking future harvests.
      The study, possibly the largest of its kind, looked at more than
      280 projects in 57 of the world's poorest countries.
      The findings appear in the journal Environmental Science and
      The team of international scientists who carried out the
      four-year project found that the farmers enjoyed improved crop
      productivity, while reducing their use of pesticides and water.
      Healthy soil
      One of the report's co-authors, Professor Jules Pretty from the
      University of Essex, UK, said the findings challenged the
      dominate view that the West knew best when it came to
      "Most people think it is bad news from the south," Professor
      Pretty said, "but in many ways farmers in developing country are
      leading the way."
      The researchers found methods that did not have an adverse effect
      on local biodiversity allowed farmers to reap the rewards of
      growing crops in healthy soil.
      "People are using a variety of integrated pest management
      techniques; making the best of biodiversity like predators,
      parasites and multiple cropping," Professor Pretty told the BBC
      News website.
      "In essence, it allows the ecosystem to deliver the pest
      management services."
      This approach paid dividends, he said, because it not only cut
      the use of pesticides but also resulted in farmers having to
      spend less of their income on chemicals.

      An awful lot of this happened without any direct policy input
      Prof Jules Pretty, report co-author
      Healthy soil also required less water to cultivate crops, he
      added: "All crops need water, but soils that are higher in
      organic matter are better at holding water.
      "If you have diverse and higher soil quality then it is better
      prepared to deal with drought conditions when access to water
      becomes a critical issue."
      Figures from the World Health Organization (WHO) show that many
      environmental benefits - clean air and water, stable climate -
      are being lost through unsustainable farming practices.
      Professor Pretty hoped the data would act as a catalyst for
      governments and national organisations to adopt better land
      "One of the key things from all of this is that an awful lot of
      this happened without any direct policy input," he said.
      "If there was more central support then we would expect to see
      these sorts of techniques and ideas spread more rapidly."
      The researchers admit that uncertainty remains as to whether
      these farming methods can meet the growing global demand for
      But they concluded that they were cautiously optimistic it could
      help the world's poorest farmers out of poverty.
      Story from BBC NEWS:
      http://news. bbc.co.uk/ go/pr/fr/ -/1/hi/sci/ tech/4716224. stm

      and more good news on:
      http://www.newenerg ymovement. org/resources. aspx

      Elsa Santos

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