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Many modern farming systems are focussed almost entirely on food production. Often this is at the expense of the environment and can come with costs to household nutrition and to traditional community activities. In many parts of the tropics where a very high proportion of the rural population is engaged in near subsistence farming, with or without some cash cropping from which economic returns are unpredictable, farming household live on the margins of the cash economy.
In these situations, it needs to be recognized that agriculture should also be focussed on the alleviation of hunger, malnutrition, poor health and poverty. The inclusion of agroforestry within integrated rural development programmes has great, but more or less unrecognised, potential to alleviate many of the socio-economic and environmental problems stemming from current practices of ‘modern’ farming systems.
See: Leakey, R.R.B. 2013. Addressing the causes of land degradation, food / nutritional insecurity and poverty: a new approach to agricultural intensification in the tropics and sub-tropics. In: UNCTAD Trade and Environment Review 2011/2012 – Chapter 3. The role of research, technology and extension services for a fundamental transformation of agriculture, Assuring Food Security in Developing Countries under the Challenges of Climate Change: Continuing with Business as Usual is not an Option, U. Hoffman (ed.), UNCTAD, Geneva, Switzerland.