The futures of futures studies
Pushing the boundaries of futures thinking
25 October 2023 (Wednesday), -, ONLINE

Sustainable intensification in an agricultural transition scenario in Entre Ríos, Argentina

In Argentina, the predominant crop production system is characterized by large crop extensions, high input use and a growing soybean monoculture, which has been widely studied and questioned due to its environmental and social implications for rural life. Sustainable intensification (SI) appears as an innovation capable of aligning expectations of production, environment and society in a transition towards a system more coherent with sustainable development. This work advances in one of the transition scenarios 2030 (TS2030) towards a sustainable rurality in a province of Argentina (Entre Ríos) where a growing expansion of industrial agriculture resulted in displacement of livestock production, rural-urban exodus and environmental and human health problems. From 19 driving forces (DF) identified for TS2030 in a previous study, five DF would include SI as part of a transition design. Trends in maximizing grain yields while assessing social and environmental risk appears as the main challenge in the SI framework (DF-1). Other two DFs involve the provincial government with its weak capacity to enforce regulations (DF-2) and a de facto agreement between public and private sectors promoting industrial agriculture (DF-3). Another DF was the increasing sequence of land ownership concentration and production on rented land (DF-4). Finally, a DF was related to the future of small and medium-sized farmers in terms of their weak organization to face the trend scenario and low capacity to adopt process-based technology (DF-5). A public policy to design a transition towards more sustainable cropping systems should consider i) affordable financial instruments for small-medium farmers allowing to access to process-based technologies that characterize the SI and ii) new-creative efforts from research and extension agencies in the context of a commitment to the SI.