The market–society–policy nexus in sustainable agriculture

Pablo Díaz-Siefer, Francisco E. Fontúrbel, Maite Berasaluce, Carlos Huenchuleo, Rattan Lal, Pedro Mondaca, Juan L. Celis-Diez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Intensive agriculture has led to several environmental impacts, such as soil erosion, water scarcity, and pesticide pollution. Despite the increasing research advocating greener agriculture, the transition into sustainable agriculture practices has been slower than expected. Then, why are we stuck in this transition? In this scientific essay, we aimed to answer this question not only by analyzing agricultural systems but also by the associated actors. Specifically, this scientific essay analyzed and discussed how agricultural systems integrate with the surrounding market, society, and policies. We made a literature review of the impacts of intensive agriculture on global change and an analysis of greener agricultural systems. Then, we analyzed how the market, society, and policies can influence the transition from intensive agriculture to greener agricultural systems. In addition, we complement that literature review with a survey made in Chile. Our analysis highlighted ecological intensification (EI) as the most promising production system in terms of sustainability. However, the most sustainable was not necessarily the most supported by the market and society. We found a disconnection between consumers' environmental concerns and what they support when buying foodstuff. Our survey showed that most people are aware of soil degradation and high-water consumption, but above all, they want pesticide-free and organic food attributes. The literature review and survey results suggested how policies can break the status quo of intensive agriculture predominance. Thus, we propose a market–society–policy nexus to promote sustainable agriculture. Our suggestions are: (1) Policies should support sustainable agricultural systems at the landscape level to safeguard the ecological processes involved in agricultural production. (2) Markets should standardize eco-labels, improve clarity in foodstuff information, and relate environmental benefits to consumer benefits. (3) A subsidy on sustainable food is needed to keep the regular market prices and attract new consumers, at least in the early stages.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironment, Development and Sustainability
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Eco-label
  • Ecological intensification
  • Global change
  • Land policies
  • Sustainable development

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