Marc J.J. Janssens, Hartmut Gaese, Albrecht Glatzle, Jürgen Pohlan:
Bridging the Gap Between Integrated and Organic Agriculture to Ensure Food Security in the Tropics


1University of Bonn, Institute of Horticulture, Germany
2University of Applied Sciences Cologne, Institute for Technology in the Tropics, Germany
3Iniciativa para la Investigación y Transferencia de Tecnología Agraria Sostenible (INTTAS), Paraguay
4El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR), Manejo Integrado de Plagas, Mexico

Many tropical farming systems are evolving by expanding the cropped area and encroaching on the environment. Most of them are of organic nature and labour unproductive. The developing world is importing countless quantities of cereals, meat and other food, mostly from non-organic farming systems outside the tropics. In fact, the digestive tracts are largely colonised. There are cases where non-subsidised imports can be cheaper than locally produced commodities. Reversing this trend will imply farmer training and a healthy synergism between intensive and organic cultivation techniques.

Zero-tillage, enabled by herbicides like glyphosate has gained recognition as a second green revolution step. Seed coating, encompassing whatever fungicides and micro-fertilisers, in combination with appropriate seedbed preparation is another such step forward. In horticulture, drip irrigation and plastic tunnels are part of the hinterland of most tropical cities. Prophylactic treatment of crops and animals should be based on integrated health stimulating and target specific principles. In animal husbandry, both feed spectrum and genetic base should be appropriate. Most, intensively produced meat is based on cereal and oilseed feed. However, as prolonged feedlots are ecologically questionable, an increased market share of competitive grass-fed animals from improved, energy saving (sub)tropical pastures should be favoured. To enhance efficient use of inputs; (i) the integrated conservation approach of FAO for crop health, plant nutrition, water use and soil management should be encouraged, (ii) the target environment receptive, (iii) multiple use of inputs promoted, and (iv) unwanted residual elements remain below organic threshold levels. In either system, inputs should remain within environmentally acceptable standards. Not all natural substances are beneficial to insects, livestock and humans. Emphasis is put upon ``vitalising'' selected abiotic inputs into ecologically acceptable inputs and/or substrates.

Keywords: Food security, integrated agriculture, organic farming

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Contact Address: Marc J.J. Janssens, University of Bonn, Institute of HorticultureAuf dem Hügel 6, 53121 Bonn, Germany, e-mail:
Andreas Deininger, September 2004