Though conventional agriculture contributed to an increase in global food availability and the green revolution undoubtedly made a change in world agricultural production output, these developments have often been achieved at the cost of deteriorating natural resources and were based on fossil energy sources. Future developments have to be guided by a more holistic or systems-oriented approach, which better address the problems of local production systems.
The concept of organic agriculture builds on the efficient use of locally available resources and adapted technologies and in industrialised countries has proved itself as a valid alternative to conventional farming. The organic concept could, therefore, prove to be a promising option for sustainable agricultural intensification in the South. However, solid data on the benefits and drawbacks of organic agriculture in the tropics is still missing. Specific on-station and on-farm experiments are required to provide solid agronomic and socio-economic data by comparing major organic and conventional agriculture production systems in selected project regions.
To fill this gap, trials assessing the effects of conventional and organic farming have been established in three different countries in the tropics (Kenya, India, Bolivia) by FiBL and its partners, to provide a scientific basis for discussions.