• Non-ICIMOD publication


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Marginal areas and indigenous people: Priorities for research and action

  • Sayed Azam-Ali
  • Hayatullah Ahmadzai
  • Dhrupad Choudhury
  • Ee Von Goh
  • Ebrahim Jahanshiri
  • Tafadzwanashe Mabhaudhi
  • Alessandro Meschinelli
  • Albert Thembinkosi Modi
  • Nhamo Nhamo
  • Abidemi Olutayo
  • Summary

Business-as-usual is not working. Marginal environments and the indigenous people who cultivate them have one thing in common – they are forgotten. Their soils and climates, crops and livestock, beliefs and knowledge systems rarely attract academic interest, policy studies or investment. Marginal environments refer to Less-Favourable Agricultural Areas (LFAAs) characterized by constrained agricultural potential and resource degradation attributable to biophysical and politico-socio-economic factors.1 Their low production potential is driven by rugged terrains, extreme weather conditions, poor soil and water quality, lack of socio-economic connectivity and limited exposure to agricultural intensification opportunities. In such regions, drought and erratic rainfall, salinization, and other factors present significant constraints for intensive agriculture. Marginal environments encompass all LFAAs and any favourable agricultural areas (e.g., areas not constrained by biophysical factors) with limited access to rural infrastructure and agricultural markets where cost-effective production is unfeasible (without additional support) under given conditions, cultivation techniques, and policy or macro-economic setting. The agricultural expertise of indigenous communities are often overlooked by decision-makers who, instead, advocate interventions based on mainstream crops and external technologies. Whilst such approaches have had demonstrable impacts on food security and poverty alleviation elsewhere, they often fail in indigenous communities where a vast range of crops are cultivated in diverse production systems and in marginal environments. As a result, agricultural yields in marginal areas continue to decline and the gap between the actual and potential yield of mainstream food crops widens.2,3,4 Hunger, malnutrition, and poverty in indigenous communities continue to increase as one in five people on the planet are malnourished.

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  • Publisher Name:
    Association of International Research and Development Centers for Agriculture (AIRCA)