Regional expert meeting and workshop on highlands agriculture , 2011-11-19

Title : ( Integrative Farming Approaches for Highland Areas of CWANA Region )

Authors: Alireza Koocheki ,

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The medium term outlook indicates that agriculture output in the coming decade will not match that of the previous decade in terms of growth. This is attributed to socio-economic and environmental challenges facing food production in the world. Technical models of agricultural modernization have resulted in major social and environmental costs in most parts of the world. They have marginalized household-based farming systems and hence increasing rural outmigrations. They have also led to overexploitation of land and water resources, loss of agrobiodiversity and conflicts over the rights to use land and water. Although great achievements in food production worldwide based on the introduction of new genotypes, expansion of irrigated land, use of chemical fertilizers, crop protection and mechanization must not be overlooked, this model has not shown to be effective for the future. Challenge to agricultural production in coming decades requires an ecological approach that is largely missing from current management in food production. Based on this perspective integrative systems of farming with a strong ecological interactions among agricultural components and landscape is an alternative. In such a system the economic and ecological value of ecosystem services associated with agriculture is considered and the concept of yield is replaced by a broader concept of function. This approach can be well applied to marginal areas such as highlands which are originally low input systems of production. Highlands are places of great diversity in the biophysical environments and hence biodiversity. Many of the world’s most important food crops evolved in the unique micro-ecologies found in the mountain valleys. Highlands cover 40% of the world’s arable land and about 80% of the planet’s fresh water originate in mountains. One sixth of human population still lives below poverty line , this value is one-fifth in countries with high share of highlands. Thirty percent of population of CWANA are living in mountain areas. Farmers in risk prone areas such as highlands have adopted a range of strategies to minimize and cope with risks. These include maintaining a diverse cropping pattern and integrative approaches such as mixed farming, not necessarily for the purpose of maximizing the yield but rather to sustain the optimum yield. In such areas there is a need to adopt sustainable cropping systems which are ecologically sound, economically viable and strictly acceptable on the basis of multifunctionality of ecosystem services and outputs. In the past crop-livestock diversification in the context of agropastoral system has played an important role in this respect. Other practices such as mixed cropping of field crops, interplanting of woody species, management of diverse herbaceous plants are also prevalent in the mountainous areas. It has been estimated that over 1/3 of wheat and livestock in CWANA is produced in the highlands and these will remain the main component of highland farming of the area in the future. Climate change will affect crops and cropping systems of the highland more seriously. However, as temperature rise, climate change might hold prospects for highland agriculture for crops previously not grown or limited to lower altitudes. Adoption and mitigation approaches such as new genotypes, change of planting date and also practices such as minimum tillage and other measures for better carbon sequestration are required to face this challenge in an environment which is more vulnerable to climate change. Intensification of crop production on ecological bases (eco-intensification) leading to agroecological practices are another alternative for crop production in the highlands. In general a biodiverse system of farming which envisage a coupling of multipurpose trees, horticultural plants, medicinal herbs and food crops with livestock rearing on the basis of eco-intensification seems to be a proper way for management of farming systems in the highlands.


, Highland, CWANA, Integrative
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author = {Koocheki, Alireza},
title = {Integrative Farming Approaches for Highland Areas of CWANA Region},
booktitle = {Regional expert meeting and workshop on highlands agriculture},
year = {2011},
location = {کرج, IRAN},
keywords = {Highland;CWANA;Integrative Farming},


%0 Conference Proceedings
%T Integrative Farming Approaches for Highland Areas of CWANA Region
%A Koocheki, Alireza
%J Regional expert meeting and workshop on highlands agriculture
%D 2011