Complexity, diversity and competence: toward sustainable livelihoods from farming systems in the 21st century
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In most Asian countries, it seems likely that agriculture will have to provide livelihoods for much larger populations in the 21st century. To be sustainable and effective,this will require more intensive and complex farming systems, with more farm enterprises and more internal linkages. For these farming systems, the balance of advantage shifts from scientists to farmers in managing complexity, exploiting diversity, in experimenting and in innovation. Recent findings from participatory rural appraisal in India and Nepal indicate that given good rapport, rural people can manifest greater analytical capabilities than outsider professionals have supposed. New roles for outsider professionals are implied, to be convenors, catalysts and consultants, searchers and suppliers, and tour operators. The technology now most needed and most lacking is methodological - to change personal attitudes, demeanour and methods of interacting, and institutional, to enable scientists and extensionists to play their new roles.