Agroecological intensification (AEI) means improving the performance of agriculture through integration of ecological principles into farm and system management. Depending on the context, improved performance may mean any or all of the following: increased productivity, enhanced use of local resources, maximized returns from external inputs, improved stability and/or diversity of diets, with associated increases in resilience and environmental service provision from farmed landscapes.
Conventional agriculture research tends to be top-down and isolated from smallholder farmers and their local ecological, economic, and social realities. As a result, farmers often find the products of the research — from seed varieties and tools to policy recommendations — inaccessible, irrelevant, or non-functional. Much of the global effort to support farming communities has been ineffective, exacerbating instead of reducing hunger, poverty, and ecological degradation.
To help shift this paradigm, the Collaborative Crop Research Program (CCRP) supports research in agroecological intensification (AEI), which aims to improve the performance of agriculture systems by integrating ecological principles into farm management. CCRP-funded projects bring together farmers, researchers, and other stakeholders to understand the particular conditions under which smallholder farmers operate. Researchers and farmers collaborate to identify or develop options that fit farmers’ contexts, address their constraints, and provide them with new opportunities.