The emerging components of a new type of agricultural system

In the early 1990s, desperation had allowed for a 'try anything' approach which embraced support for the recycling and re-use of agro-industrial wastes, as well as the testing out of alternative agricultural concepts such as permaculture. By the late 1990s, a more sophisticated approach prevailed that was focused around a broadly interpreted concept of integration. Within this, some components of the agricultural support system still adhered to the industrialized perspective, whilst other components embraced an alternative, localized, ecological perspective, and these co-existed in contradictory fashion. Some remnants of the industrialized system remained but were requiring change, such as the top-down extension model and the centralized seed system. Other components of the industrialized system were kept for their continued applicability, such as the supply of agrochemicals. Similarly, some more ecological components had been adopted prior to the Special Period, such as research on biological pest controls, others were present by default, such as the new on-farm research approaches, and others still had been deliberately chosen as part of a new system (although may have also first arrived through lack of choice), such as urban agriculture. Figure 8.2 schematizes this dynamic of coexisting, contradictory components.

Viewing the emerging agricultural support system in this manner enables the identification of components that are obsolete or even hindering development and that could be discarded, and also components that are beneficial and could be further institutionalized and scaled up.

New deliberately chosen ecological components j

Figure 8.2 Coexisting industrial and ecological components of the emerging agricultural support system

Source: Wright, 2005

New deliberately chosen ecological components j

Ecological components intended to be introduced ,

Figure 8.2 Coexisting industrial and ecological components of the emerging agricultural support system

Source: Wright, 2005

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