Agricultural Change and Plausible Futures | 85

Apart from the business-as-usual scenario, we may perceive other plausible scenarios, such as

  • Sunset agriculture, interfacing authoritative governance and weaker AKST institutions
  • Sunrise agriculture, interfacing democratic governance and strong AKST institutions
  • People-centered and development-oriented agriculture, interfacing globalization

Since the role of agriculture is likely to further decline as key employer in the long term, its contribution to national output may concomitantly decrease, as has happened in industrial countries (Fresco, 2002; Inter Academy Council, 2004b). However, given the political will to change, agriculture can potentially reemerge as a promising sector with value-added contributions toward economic growth and development in the region through AKST. In this context, it has a future as a sunrise sector (Fresco, 2002; Lipton, 2005). The world in general, and CWANA in particular, has witnessed the ills brought on by authoritative regimes and the models of development that have been implemented. Hence the focus is likely to shift on the learning curve toward more people-centered development. Historical evidence suggests that development models drawn in consultation with the people for whom those interventions are made hold promise of yielding more sustainable solutions in terms of development objectives, since they place people at the center of the development paradigm (Hardi and Zdan, 1997).

This chapter is based on a pragmatic and rational understanding of direct and indirect drivers, and how these are likely to behave in future, learning from historical trends and analyzing them in qualitative terms. Thus the chapter sets a future scene with a logical plot describing how things are likely to unfold under different socioeconomic and political conditions and an AKST environment in the short, through the medium, to the long term.

3.2 Method

The approach uses the business-as-usual scenario as its benchmark and adds value while prospecting the situation 50 years ahead. Scenario development and analysis provide a logical way of thinking through a range of plausible futures. Scenarios are "plausible and often simplified descriptions of how the future may develop, based on a coherent and internally consistent set of assumptions about key driving forces and relationships" (MEA, 2005). Scenarios can be developed for various purposes: to explore a range of plausible futures, to analyze possible response strategies, or to provoke creative thinking (Alcamo, 2001). A number of recent international environmental assessments have made use of scenario development and analysis, and the scenarios introduced by international environmental and agricultural assessments have influenced both scientific and public debate. Prominent examples of global scenariobased assessments include the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007), the Global Environmental Outlook of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP, 2002) and the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA, 2005).

3.3 Key Drivers of Agricultural Change

The factors that drive the change-that regard the future of


agriculture in the CWANA region-need to be looked at in more detail. We must understand these drivers to assess the plausibility of the scenarios.

A driver is any natural or human-induced factor that directly or indirectly causes a change in an ecosystem. A direct driver unequivocally influences ecosystem processes. An indirect driver operates more diffusely, by altering one or more direct drivers.

For the purpose of this assessment, a driver is a factor that can to a certain degree potentially change the development landscape in a given sector or subsector of economy with regard to agricultural research and development (R&D). A direct driver influences agricultural production and services and can therefore be identified and measured to a degree of accuracy. The influence of an indirect driver is established by understanding the nature of its effect on a direct driver. Drivers can be influenced by policy choices. However, the distinction between indirect and direct drivers may at times not be clear. Many implicit links exist between and across the different drivers, and the discussion in this chapter needs to be viewed in that context.

A host of direct and indirect drivers is relevant to agricultural systems and AKST (Conway, 1997; Dixon et al. 2001; FAO, 2004; Das and Laub, 2005; DFID, 2005). Following is a prioritized set of direct drivers.

Economic drivers. Economic growth and development, national and per capita income, macroeconomic policies, international trade, trade policies, trade liberalization and capital flow, marketing chains, market access opportunities, market distortions and support, food security, competition between different crops.

Food demand and consumption patterns. Population dynamics, consumption levels, dietary preferences, food quality, nutritional values and standards. Agricultural and natural resource management. Land tenure, agricultural inputs, pest and disease management, use of agrochemicals, cropping patterns, role of livestock, agricultural biodiversity, transgenic crops (GMOs), impact of agriculture on natural resources, constraints of management, indigenous knowledge.

Land and water resource management. Land use, land cover change, land degradation, land availability and productivity, water allocation, water quality, transfer and transboundary water management, surface and groundwater management and protection.

Climate change. Effect of climate change (global warming, change in precipitation) on agriculture, drought, floods and famine, other climate-driven changes.

Energy and biofuels. Relationship between energy (cost, production, distribution, access) and agriculture; hydroelectric energy, bioenergy.

Human resources. Education, training, role of women, rural labor migration, social capital, cultural and religious factors.