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African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development
Rural Outreach Program
ISSN: 1684-5358
EISSN: 1684-5358
Vol. 17, No. 1, 2017, pp. 11673-11690
Bioline Code: nd17017
Full paper language: English
Document type: Research Article
Document available free of charge

African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development, Vol. 17, No. 1, 2017, pp. 11673-11690

Ogemah, VK


The concept of sustainability has become central to all sectors all over the world, from agriculture to environment to business, engineering and industrialization. The principle of sustainability is the same all over these sectors. However, the understanding of the term may vary from sector to sector depending on how it may be applied to a specific sector. Sustainable agriculture is a term that continues to gain prominence in the agricultural sector but not without lots of misunderstanding, controversy and challenges. It is necessary that the sector has a common understanding of this term if it has to be applied by all and sundry. This is more so today due to the heightened importance of sustainable agriculture following its elevation to a key target in Sustainable Development Goal No. 2. This paper has been necessitated by the need to address the divergent perceptions of sustainable agriculture, which make it difficult to universally apply the concept in the agricultural sector and which could adversely affect the attainment of the goal’s target. Sustainable agriculture has been wrongly linked to a return to either the low yields or poor farmers that characterized the 19th century and the use of low value labour-intensive agricultural resources and production systems. It has also been viewed as an attack on conventional agriculture and intended for use by resource- poor farmers. With these perceptions, a common way forward towards sustainable agriculture is not possible. The paper highlights the varied but related definitions of sustainable agriculture and suggests that because of the “boundary object” nature of the definition, the principles of sustainable agriculture should provide a good guide to be followed in pursuit of the same. The paper suggests possible reasons why sustainable agriculture concept is not widely applied in Africa and proposes important actions to be undertaken to enhance wider application of this concept in agricultural systems.

Agriculture; sustainable intensification; sustainable agriculture; sustainability; agricultural systems; sustainable development

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