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The state of food and agriculture 2007: Paying Farmers for Environmental Services (FAO agriculture series)

The state of food and agriculture 2007: Paying Farmers for Environmental Services (FAO agriculture series) (Paperback)

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Despite unprecedented global economic growth, 1.1 billion people continue to live in extreme poverty and more than 850 million people suffer from chronic hunger while ecosystems are being threatened as never before. Poverty reduction, food security and environmental sustainability have all moved to the top of a crowded international agenda, as reflected in the Millennium Development Goals.At the same time, the close relationships among poverty, hunger and ecosystem degradation are becoming ever clearer. Most of the world's poor people live in rural areas, many of them in marginal environments, and depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Agricultural development is therefore crucial for alleviating poverty on a large scale. Such development would also require that the natural resource base on which the poor depend for their livelihoods be preserved and enhanced."The State of Food and Agriculture 2007 - Paying Farmers for Environmental Services" highlights the potential of agriculture for enhanced provision of ecosystem services that are not usually compensated for by the market.

When we think of farmers we typically think of the food and fibre that they produce and that they either consume or sell on markets to generate an income. But the production processes can also result in impacts on other ecosystem services that are not traded in markets, referred to in this report as 'environmental services'. Some may be positive, such as groundwater recharge and scenic landscapes; others may be negative, such as water pollution by plant nutrients and animal waste, and soil erosion from poorly managed croplands or overgrazed hillsides. As agricultural production expands, these negative effects can develop into increasingly serious problems.A fundamental question concerns how farmers can be encouraged to reduce negative side effects while meeting the growing demands for food and fibre. At the same time, changes in agricultural practices may also contribute to addressing environmental problems generated outside agriculture, for example, by offsetting greenhouse gas emissions from other sectors. A relevant question, therefore, is how farmers can be induced to increase their provision of this type of service.

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