Jules Pretty on Sustainable Agriculture

The role of the small-scaled family farming is neglected so far.


In recent years, there has been a calling for a more sustainable form of agriculture which will successfully feed a growing population whilst reducing the negative impacts on the environment. One such advocate is Jules Pretty, a multidisciplinary academic and author. This paper will look at Pretty’s contribution to the understanding of sustainable agriculture, drawing on his various publications as well as wider literature. It will begin by assessing Pretty’s interpretation of problems associated with modern food production systems, followed by a critique of his proposals.

The Problem

According to Pretty, there is something seriously wrong with our agricultural and food systems today. The food system is “faster, fitter and more streamlined” yet still flawed (2001). Despite advances in aggregate productivity due to events such as the green revolution where new varieties of crop, inputs and infrastructure tripled world agricultural production between 1961-2007 (Pretty et al. 2011), there have been…

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