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Intensified farming ‘rarely’ aids wellbeing and the environment

English

Agricultural intensification rarely leads to simultaneous benefits for ecosystem services such as biodiversity and human wellbeing, researchers say. In a study (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41893-018-0070-8) published in Nature Sustainability journal, which involved analysis of 60 case studies from countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, they found that fewer than 20 per cent of cases had benefits across both these outcomes. Agricultural intensification — activities that aim to increase either the productivity or profitability of agricultural land — tends to get high priority as a strategy for sustainable food production. But how positive outcomes can be achieved in different regions has been unclear, according to the authors. This knowledge gap was their motivation to analyse the twin impacts of agricultural intensification in low- and middle-income countries. The researcher team analysed wellbeing using indicators such as income, education, health and food security. Ecosystem services were assessed with indicators including biodiversity, cultural heritage and water purification.