This chapter reflects on the pros and cons of recent and current agricultural practice and considers how this practice will continue to evolve.

Over the last 50 years, efficiency gains in farming methods and improvements in plant and animal varieties have driven a rapid expansion in global agricultural production. Progress has been unequal, but in parts of the Global South where this ‘Green Revolution’ was successful, it reduced malnutrition, increased food security and life expectancy, lowered population growth, and kick-started economic diversification.

Further growth is possible without expanding agricultural lands or damaging water reserves and soil – the two key natural resources on which rural economies are based. For this to happen, farmers need to feel certain of their long-term control over the land they are farming, and they need to be able to use and committed to using the right inputs at the right time and in an appropriate manner. This, in turn, requires further crop, water, and soil research, as well as investments in farmers’ abilities and in incentives for them to follow good practice. It also needs an environment in which markets work, property is safe, effective support services are available, and negotiated access to water reserves is based on their replenishable capacity.