Giving Compass' Take:

• Food Tank highlights a recent report that provides insight into some factors that impede the adoption of sustainable agriculture in developing countries.

• How can we support efforts to ensure innovative solutions reach more corners of the world? 

Here's why sustainable farming is not one size fits all. 

Smallholder farms, many of which are located in the developing world, make up nearly half of all agricultural land on the planet. In those same farms, however, chemical-free solutions and advances in sustainability remain short-lived, despite the developing world’s extra susceptibility to the potentially harmful effects of pesticides.

The study, jointly led by the university’s Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management (IPM IL) and Office of Economic Development, focused on two natural solutions—Trichoderma and cocopeat—that the IPM IL employs to address seed and soil health in three countries—India, Nepal, and Bangladesh.

The sale and transport of seeds in the developing world largely goes unregulated, which not only spreads plant pathogens and pests, but contributes to the one-third of crops lost every year. Trichoderma, a beneficial fungus, builds plants’ defense mechanisms to protect against pests and disease, and can be applied at any stage of a plant’s life and on any part of a plant or its soil. Cocopeat, the dust of a coconut, is a sterile growing medium that supports stable plant roots, its cellulosic structure fostering the uptake of nutrients. The study showed that the application of both heeds positive results including high germination rates, increased crop yields, reduced pesticide use, and increased farmer income. Their adoption also helped lead to a boom in the plant nursery industry in Asia that opened new job opportunities specifically for underemployed women. Women, in fact, are at the forefront of Trichoderma production in general, making up the majority of scientists developing and studying the fungus.

Read the full article on sustainable agricultural solutions by Sara Hendery at Food Tank.