Sustainable agriculture is farming in sustainable ways meeting society’s present food and
textile needs, without compromising the ability for current or future generations to meet their
needs. When developing agriculture within sustainable food systems, it is important to
develop flexible business process and farming practices.
In recent decades, there has been remarkable growth in agricultural production, with
increases in food production across the world since the beginning of the 1960s. Since then,
aggregate world food production has grown by 145%. In Africa it rose by 140%, in Latin
America by almost 200% and in Asia by 280%. The greatest increases have been in China,
where a fivefold increase occurred, mostly during the 1980s–1990s. In industrialized
countries, production started from a higher base; yet it still doubled in the USA over 40 years
and grew by 68% in Western Europe.
Three things are now clear from evidence on the recent spread of agricultural sustainability.
i. Many technologies and social processes for local scale adoption of more sustainable
agricultural systems are increasingly well tested and established.
ii. The social and institutional conditions for spread are less well understood, but have
been established in several contexts, leading to more rapid spread during the
1990s–early 2000s.
iii. The political conditions for the emergence of supportive policies are the least well
established, with only a few examples of positive progress.