From Vulnerability to Resilience: Agroecology for Sustainable Dryland Management

Edith van Walsum, Leonardo van den Berg, Janneke Bruil, Peter Gubbels


This paper explores the main institutional and political factors contributing to the gap between evidence and mainstream policies/funding priorities in dryland management.It explores two agricultural paradigms: first, the dominant paradigm that favours modernization, economies of scale and specialisation. Second, the agroecological paradigm, with resilience of farming communities and their ecosystems as its central concept. It then discusses a number of practical experiences, each illustrating that agroecological approaches can lead to triple wins: increased  productivity, increased  natural resource sustainability and increased food security. But sharing good practices alone is not enough to bridge the gap. The role of research-based evidence is one among the many variables that influence policy making and implementation. Other variables include values, political affiliation, experiences, expertise, stakeholder organisation, the role of the media and pressure. Building agro-ecological resilience is a challenging concept for policymakers as it requires a fundamental change in agricultural investment patterns, towards enabling small-scale family farmers to develop their skills, expertise and voice, and towards full-fledged support for the  upscaling of  agroecological  practices. 


Sustainable Land Management; Agroecology; Agroforestry; Drylands; FMNR; RNA; Leisa; Land Degradation

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