AGRICULTURAL SUSTAINABILITY, PLANT PATHOGENS AND TRADITIONAL SYSTEMS
Agricultural Research and Extension Group, The World Bank, Washington DC, USA
The struggle to produce more food and manage land for sustainable agriculture is not new. It began when subsistence fanners all over the world were confronted with the prospect of altering their shifting cultivation practices and cycles in response to increased population pressures. Now, however, because of the unprecedented magnitude of hunger, population growth and environmental degradation in developing countries, the situation calls for the equivalent of a second green revolution if we are to achieve sustainable agricultural growth.
The scientific community has registered impressive advances in molecular biology and its associated technologies for the design and engineering of new plant types. Indeed, these advances are now contributing significantly to pushing the frontiers of crop productivity performance to meet unprecedented demands for food. Regrettably, no serious comparable effort is being devoted to increase our knowledge of the resilience of 'traditional systems' so that this attribute may be used also to push the frontiers of sustainable land productivity.
The thrust of this Glen Anderson Lecture is a challenge for significantly greater intellectual investment in a critical assessment of the interactions between ecological compatibility and stable productivity. Perhaps a first line of action may be an examination of new paradigms that shift the boundaries of ecosystems' resilience. This paper will examine the prospects for further exploitation of the traditional use of land races and natural biological control within an extended boundary of ecosystems resilience.