Article

Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 71-83

Why agronomy in the developing world has become contentious

  • James SumbergAffiliated withInstitute of Development Studies, University of Sussex Email author 
  • , John ThompsonAffiliated withInstitute of Development Studies, University of Sussex
  • , Philip WoodhouseAffiliated withSchool of Environment and Development, University of Manchester

Abstract

In this paper we argue that over the last 40 years the context of agronomic research in the developing world has changed significantly. Three main changes are identified: the neoliberal turn in economic and social policy and the rise to prominence of the participation and environmental agendas. These changes have opened up new spaces for contestation around the goals, priorities, methods, results and recommendations of agronomic research. We suggest that this dynamic of contestation is having important effects on how agronomic research is planned, managed, implemented, evaluated and used, and is therefore worthy of detailed study. This is particularly so at a time when food security, rising food prices and the potential impacts of climate change on agriculture are in the policy spotlight. We outline a research agenda that should help illuminate the drivers, dynamics and impacts of this new ‘political agronomy’.

Keywords

Conservation agriculture SRI Agricultural research Political ecology