Integrated systems research for sustainable smallholder agriculture in the Central Mekong
This book (PDF) from the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) summarizes the achievements as well as some of the challenges faced while implementing integrated systems research to support the sustainable development of smallholder farming in the uplands of the Mekong region. The third chapter on integrating tree, crop and livestock technologies provides solutions and interventions to sustainably recover land while ensuring short-term economic returns, soil conservation and water resources. The case studies are in Northern Laos, Cambodia, the Central Highlands of Viet Nam (mainly focused on coffee mono-cropping) and the rubber plantations in Yunnan, China. The authors propose solutions for sustainable agricultural intensification to diversify income, improve dietary diversity and improve natural resource management. One solution to control erosion in Laos was to introduce understorey cash crops to teak tree plantation, this ensures rain water filtration, reduces erosion and enriches the soil with organic matter to ensure plant development during the dry season. Most importantly, the cash crop is an economic incentive for the farmers who were not really occupied with erosion itself. The accomplishment of the objectives of sustainable integrated agricultural systems also requires long-term involvement with ethnic minority communities that have been the particular focus in the target areas.