Agricultural Change and Plausible Futures | 89

Agrochemicals are some of the most important products used in agricultural production. They play an important role in increasing agricultural production and incomes. Being high-tech products, agrochemicals set certain requirements for the user. Pesticide research has provided compounds of progressively increased activity, and recently discovered insecticides, fungicides and herbicides are outstandingly potent. Consideration of the practical use of such chemical agents suggests that greater attention should now be given to methods of application and to the physiochemical properties that determine redistribution and biological availability following release.

The use of agrochemicals will increase as intensive agriculture expands. Runoff from intensively exploited areas will carry heavy loads of pesticides and herbicides as well as fertilizers. The chemicals will pollute water sources and overload them with nutrients. Such high chemical loads will lower water quality for such uses as drinking and irrigation or fish culture—compounding the water scarcity in the region. In particular, in countries where most of the population lives in villages that depend on ground or surface water for their own consumption, polluting this source can lead to extensive health problems in rural communities. Also, continuous and improper use of herbicides and pesticides will promote resistance to these chemicals in weeds, microorganisms and insects.

There is growing social awareness about pesticide-intensive pest control programs. This concern will be a driving force behind the adoption of modern AKST methods of pest control such as IPM, already popular in some countries (FAO, 2000). Land and water resource management
Land resource management is the actual practice of how the local human population uses the land. Its use should be sustainable (FAO/Netherlands, 1991). In a broader sense management includes land-use planning, as agreed among stakeholders; legal, administrative and institutional execution; demarcation on the ground; inspection and control of adherence to decisions; solving of land tenure issues; settling of water rights; issuance of concessions for plant and animal extraction (timber, fuelwood, charcoal and peat, nonwood products, hunting); promotion of the role of women and other disadvantaged groups in agriculture and rural development in the area; and the safeguarding of traditional rights of indigenous peoples (FAO, 1995).

Improved land management that ensures better resource use and promotes long-term sustainability is basic to future food production and to the economic welfare of rural communities. Because of the dynamic aspects of land management, a flexible and adaptive “process” approach for monitoring the quality and quantity of the world’s land resources (such as soil, water, plant nutrients) and for determining how human activities affect these resources is essential. However, systematic assessment of sustainability of current or planned land uses can be hampered by too much detailed data that are difficult to interpret, lack of baseline information from which to compare change, or data that are inconsistent over time or geographic area (USDA, 1994).

From the land management point of view, the major concerns are:

  • Decline in quality of the soil as a rooting environment
  • Erosion and loss of topsoil by wind and water
  • Loss of vegetative cover, including woody perennials
  • Acidification, decline in soil fertility and depletion of
    plant nutrients
  • Salinity and salinization, particularly in irrigated systems

Increased control over land resources by the powerful, especially large-scale farmers with political constituencies, leads to a monopolistic attitude, where land is a symbol of power and not productivity (Basu, 1986; Bonfiglioli, 2004).

In the long term, national governments will address issues of food security and rural development (Chambers and Conway, 1991). This may lead to better investment in AKST. As a result, an enabling environment will be provided for better management of land resources, e.g., through efficient soil conservation, water management, and salinity and waterlogging technologies and practices.

In most CWANA countries, traditional inheritance laws will continue to intensify fragmentation of landholdings and production systems. This too negatively influences the realization of economies of scale in agriculture in affected countries. The possibility of land consolidation and integration of the production system is the most promising scenario for overcoming the prevailing problems.

Water resource management is the integrating concept for a number of water subsectors such as hydropower, water supply and sanitation, irrigation and drainage, and environment. An integrated water resource perspective ensures that social, economic, environmental and technical dimensions are taken into account in managing and developing these resources.

Water is the most important natural input in agricultural development (UNWWAP, 2003; CA, 2006; IWMI, 2006). In some areas, ground water is used for irrigation, but because of factors such as drought and overdrawing of groundwater reserves, this important resource has a negative annual balance, with dropping water tables. Besides climatic changes and drought, the scarcity of water resources will be intensified because of pollution from industrial, agricultural and urban sources (WMO, 1997; Pearce, 2006).

Better investment in water resource schemes and better management of water resources will lead to sustainable increases in the productivity of water—and better livelihoods for poor people in rural areas. As a result of these smarter investments, over a 20-year time horizon, we expect less environmental degradation and less poverty.

Integrated water management will achieve positive results by using a three-pronged approach:

  • Significantly influence how investments in irrigation development, improvement and management are made, by feeding results of relevant research into the global debate on water for food and environmental security.
  • Develop and disseminate research tools to enhance the understanding of the most critical issues in managing irrigation water.
  • Provide tools, processes and knowledge that allow water resource managers to adapt and respond to new and changing needs and expectations.

Water-use efficiency in CWANA countries is poor, because of several factors including poor on-farm water manage-