Current Conditions, Challenges and Options for Action | 27

those in the state, civil society and private sector, to ad­dress the fundamental question of the relationships among production, social and environmental systems is marred by contentious political and economic stances adopted by the different actors. The acknowledgment of current challenges and the acceptance of options available for action require a long-term commitment from decision makers that is re­sponsive to specific needs and a wide range of stakeholders. It calls for a continuing recognition that science, technol­ogy, knowledge systems and human ingenuity are needed to meet future challenges, opportunities and uncertainties.

2. Options for Action
Successfully meeting development and sustainability goals and responding to new priorities and changing circumstances will require a fundamental shift in science and technologies, policies and institutions, as well as capacity development and investments. Such a shift will recognize and give increased importance to the multifunctionality  of agriculture  and account for the complexity of agricultural systems within diverse social and ecological contexts. Successfully making this shift will depend on adapting and reforming existing in­stitutional and organizational arrangements and on further institutional and organizational development to promote an integrated approach to AKST development and deployment. It will further require increased public investment in AKST and development of supporting policy regimes.

Poverty and livelihoods
Ensuring the development, adaptation and utilization of for­mal AKST by small-scale farmers requires acknowledging the inherently diverse conditions in which they live and work. Hence, formal AKST needs to be informed by knowledge about farmers' conditions, opportunities and needs, and by participatory methodologies that can empower small-scale producers. The development of more sustainable low-input practices to improve soil, nutrient and water management will be particularly critical for communities with limited access to markets. Enabling resource-poor farmers to link their own local knowledge to external expert and scientific knowledge for innovative management of soil fertility, crop genetic diversity, and natural resources is a powerful tool for enabling them to capture market opportunities
     Technological innovation at the farm level is predicated upon enabling institutional and legal frameworks and sup­port structures, such as:
•   Giving producers a voice in the procedures for funding, designing and executing formal AKST;
•   Enhancing producer livelihoods though brokered long-term contractual arrangements, through commercial out-grower schemes or farmer cooperatives. They in­volve  commodity  chains that  integrate  microcredit, farmer organization, input provision, quality control, storage, bulking, packaging, transport, etc.;
•   Investments to generate sustainable employment oppor­tunities for the rural poor, both landless labor and cul­tivator households, e.g., through enhanced value-added activity and off-farm employment;
•   Promoting innovation grounded in interaction among stakeholders who hold complementary parts of the so-


lution, e.g., farmers, technical specialists, local govern­ment agents, and private input traders.

Though these interactions take place at the decentralized level, they usually require enabling conditions at higher levels that include legal frameworks that ensure access and secure tenure to resources and land, recourse to fair conflict resolution and other mechanisms for accountability and na­tional policies that support remunerative farm prices.
     Policy options to increase domestic farm gate prices for small-scale producers include:
•   Fiscal policy (e.g., market feeder roads, postharvest stor­age facilities and rural value-added agrifood produc­tion) to develop infrastructural capacity, and increasing the percentage of that small-scale farmers receive for export crops;
•   Acknowledgment of access to (market and policy) in­formation, farmer-to-farmer exchange, farmer educa­tion, and extension as public service and public goods that provide access to AKST both formal and local. In LAC, for example, farmer-to-farmer approaches have proven successful in the adoption of agroecological practices;
•   Public/private arrangements that allow producers to sell through urban supermarkets;
•   Strengthening producer organizations through invest­ment in travel and meetings, and capacity building and through creating space for farmer participation in local, regional and national decision making; and
•   Capturing preferential trading arrangements.
Farmer  Field  Schools,  Participatory  Plant  Breeding/Do­mestication, Farmer Research Groups and similar forms of interaction in support of farmer-driven agendas have been shown to have multiple pro-poor benefits, such as enduring farmer education, empowerment and organizational skills [see Part II: NRM].
     Developments are needed that build trust and that value farmer knowledge, agricultural and natural biodiversity, farmer-managed medicinal plants, local seed systems and common pool resource management regimes. The success of options implemented locally rests on regional and nation­ally based mechanisms to ensure accountability.

Food security
Food security is a situation that exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to suffi­cient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. Food sovereignty is defined as the right of peoples and sovereign states to democratically determine their own agricultural and food policies.
     Using appropriate AKST can contribute to radically improved food security. It can support efforts to increase production, enhance the social and economic performance of agricultural systems as a basis for sustainable rural and community livelihoods, rehabilitate degraded land, and re­duce environmental and health risks associated with food production and consumption. The following options can aid in capturing these opportunities to increase sustainable agricultural production: