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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2013

An integrated agro-ecosystem and livelihood systems approach for the poor and vulnerable in dry areas

van Ginkel, Maarten; Sayer, Jeff; Sinclair, Fergus; Aw-Hassan, A.; Bossio, Deborah; Craufurd, Peter; El Mourid, M.; Haddad, N.; Hoisington, David; Johnson, Nancy; León Velarde, Carlos; Mares, Víctor; Mude, A.; Nefzaoui, A.; Noble, Andrew; Rao, K.P.C.; Serraj, Rachid; Tarawali, Shirley; Vodouhe, Raymond; Ortiz Rios, Rodomiro Octavio


More than 400 million people in the developing world depend on dryland agriculture for their livelihoods. Dryland agriculture involves a complex combination of productive components: staple crops, vegetables, livestock, trees and fish interacting principally with rangeland, cultivated areas and watercourses. Managing risk and enhancing productivity through diversification and sustainable intensification is critical to securing and improving rural livelihoods. The main biophysical constraints are natural resource limitations and degradation, particularly water scarcity and encroaching desertification. Social and economic limitations, such as poor access to markets and inputs, weak governance and lack of information about alternative production technologies also limit the options available to farmers. Past efforts to address these constraints by focusing on individual components have either not been successful or are now facing a declining rate of impact, indicating the need for new integrated approaches to research for development of dryland systems. This article outlines the characteristics of such an approach, integrating agro-ecosystem and livelihoods approaches and presents a range of empirical examples of its application in dryland contexts. The authors draw attention to new insights about the design of research required to accelerate impact by integrating across disciplines and scales.


Dryland agriculture; Managing risk; Building resilience; Sustainable intensification

Published in

Food Security
2013, volume: 5, number: 6, pages: 751-767
Publisher: SPRINGER

Authors' information

van Ginkel, Maarten
Sayer, Jeff
Sinclair, Fergus
Aw-Hassan, A.
Bossio, Deborah
Craufurd, Peter
El Mourid, M.
Haddad, N.
Hoisington, David
Johnson, Nancy
León Velarde, Carlos
Mares, Víctor
Mude, A.
Nefzaoui, A.
Noble, Andrew
Rao, K.P.C.
Serraj, Rachid
Tarawali, Shirley
Vodouhe, Raymond
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, VÄXTFÖRÄDLING, Box 101

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG2 Zero hunger
SDG12 Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
SDG17 Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
SDG15 Life on land

UKÄ Subject classification

Agricultural Science

Publication Identifiers


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