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Executive Summary

Sustainable agriculture tends to become more significant nowadays as it is a major tool for addressing the needs of food and organic products of people in various parts of the world. One of the major currently unresolved questions is satisfying these necessities in developing countries where the population tends to increase rapidly. This problem requires solving a number of additional issues such as a more rapid increase in demand for food than its supply. This tendency should be reversed with the help of introducing corresponding innovations and utilizing the available resources more effectively. Moreover, the state of the natural environment should not be affected negatively by the agriculture development. As the current world is global, no country can exist in isolation and solve its environmental problems without coordinating efforts with others. The formulated proposal for this project is as follows. Sustainable agriculture may allow planting test plots of drought-resistant plants to meet the food needs of people from developing countries under the growing drought conditions.

The concentration on their narrow interests by many developing countries leads to the situation when the global environmental equilibrium is disturbed. As a result, the interests of different nations and individuals become antagonistic. Tilman et al. (2011) make estimations regarding the future development of agriculture in the world during the next 50 years. The authors expect the growing demand for food from developing nations due to the corresponding population growth. Siikamaki (2008) explains the impact of climate change on the state of environment and agriculture in the United States. The researcher demonstrates that the increase in the average temperature leads to some serious and inevitable negative effects. Pfister, Bayer, Koehler, and Hellweg (2011) have elaborated on the four major scenarios regarding the future development of the situation in the agricultural sector. The overall risks are considerable. However, timely and coordinated measures may improve the current situation. Anwar, Liu, Macadam, and Kelly (2012) analyze the potential adaptation strategies that may be used for adjusting agriculture to the current climate change. The major proposed tool is the information exchange between all parties involved. Boxall et al. (2009) demonstrate that climate change also has a number of secondary effects including pathogens and chemicals. It leads to new risks for people from different parts of the world.

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The proposed plan can be implemented successfully if the necessary observations, experiments, and modeling are provided. The major experiments can be organized in one of the farms in California that own the California Agricultural Water Stewardship Initiative. The existing drought conditions allow extrapolating the results to developing countries. The observations include examining global trends and forecasting the dynamics of food shortages in developing countries. Modeling allows creating complex statistical and regression models for specifying the dominant independent variables that may be affected. The developed strategy has a number of direct and indirect implications for policy involvements. The relationships between developed and developing countries may be harmonized, and mutually beneficial strategies can be implemented. Moreover, the project shows that efficiency should be understood as a product of economic, social, and environmental factors. The estimated budget of the 2-years project is provided. The total budget equals to $88,500. The costs in the second year will be higher in comparison with the first one due to the need for hiring additional analytics for the statistical analysis. In general, the project seems to be profitable and sustainable. It may allow for solving global problems in the long run.

Sustainable Agriculture

The role of sustainable agriculture is generally recognized. However, the actual implementation of these principles is often associated with considerable difficulties. The reason is that both new technological opportunities and challenges emerge constantly. Therefore, it is problematic to create a flexible model that will address a whole variety of dynamic agricultural problems, especially in developing countries. This paper proposes planting test plots of various drought-resistant plants to meet the food demands of developing nations under the severe drought conditions. It is a 2-years project that evaluates potential innovations and optimal management strategies. The project will realize strategies oriented to the climate and soil conditions of a given region. The experiments needed for the successful realization of the plan may be executed in one of the farms in California provided by the California Agricultural Water Stewardship Initiative (CAWSI, 2015). In general, the successful implementation of this project will be beneficial both from economic and agricultural perspectives.

Background

The growing demand for food and organic products in developing countries cannot be satisfied with the help of traditional agricultural methods. Therefore, a number of interrelated minor issues should be addressed. First, the rates of the food supply increase should exceed those of demand induction. In this way, the existing shortages of products will reduce. Second, the rapid development of agriculture should be neutral to the state of the natural environment. Nowadays, any negative impacts on the surrounding will affect the ecological equilibrium in both developed and developing countries (Anwar et al., 2013). Thus, more effective and innovative methods should be introduced in various parts of the world.

Third, the interests of citizens from both developed and developing countries should be harmonized. It means that the growing needs of developing nations should be satisfied not at the expense of developed ones but with the help of innovative agricultural methods. However, the current technological solutions do not allow reaching the above objectives. Moreover, the successful implementation of these principles requires not only innovative technologies but also the corresponding organization of any process by professional managers (Anwar et al., 2013). Sustainability projects should be based on the close coordination of efforts by all parties involved.

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Objectives

It is reasonable to specify the major relevant objectives in detail.

1. The demand for food in developing countries should be determined.

2. The expected shortages as the difference between the quantity demanded and the quantity produced should be clarified.

3. The positive impact of drought-resistant plants should be assessed.

4. The optimal distribution of these plants in developing countries should be determined.

5. The overall effects of the proposed project should be specified.

Literature Review

It is reasonable to provide a brief literature review to evaluate the major approaches in this field developed by scholars. Tilman et al. (2001) concentrate on forecasting the structure of demand for food within the next 50 years. They demonstrate that a considerable increase in demand for food is likely. As the population of developing countries continues to grow, the proportional changes in the total level of demand are inevitable. The authors state that the corresponding improvement of technologies and innovative agricultural solutions are necessary for meeting these challenges. Siikamaki (2008) elaborates on the interrelationships between global climate change and agriculture development in the United States. The latter depends on the former especially due to the growing temperatures in various parts of the world. The author also believes that innovations and technological methods should counter-balance the major threats in this field (Siikamaki, 2008). Therefore, the further development of agriculture should orient to the current threats and opportunities.

Pfister et al. (2011) examine four potential scenarios of water consumption in the future. The most plausible scenarios show that the demand for water may exceed its supply substantially. Therefore, urgent response measures are necessary to prevent potential large-scale shortages. The authors advocate both intensification and expansion strategies to maximize the total positive results (Pfister et al., 2011). Thus, it is reasonable to rely both on extensive and intensive methods while dealing with agricultural issues. At the same time, intensification tends to become even more important and relevant nowadays.

Anwar et al. (2012) evaluate the optimal adaptation strategies of the agriculture industry to climate change. The absence of a clearly defined strategy may lead to large-scale problems as the actions and strategies of all individuals and organizations should be coordinated. The authors pay the major attention to information exchange and awareness of all key participants. They believe that it is crucial for generating the desired long-term results (Anwar et al., 2012). It seems that this approach is correct. However, the information exchange is not an ultimate goal though rather a means for satisfying the growing demand for food in developing countries.

Boxall et al. (2009) concentrate on the secondary effects of climate change. In particular, they examine the impact of pathogens and chemicals. The estimated impact is highly negative. The authors conclude that it creates a number of risks for people from different countries all over the world. Therefore, the common understanding of climate change problems is incomplete. The authors believe that secondary effects should be evaluated closely. The global social structure should adjust its plans in accordance with the major threats and challenges.

Geng et al. (2014) concentrate on drought conditions and additional difficulties associated with these conditions for agriculture sustainability. The authors examine the content of microbial biomass carbon as a suitable indicator in this context. Their analysis shows that drought conditions lead to the gradual degradation of soil with the corresponding negative impact on its productive capacities. The authors elaborate on the sustainability of soil ecosystems and the possibility of their rehabilitation (Geng et al., 2014). If the structure of the soil is damaged, a prolonged time period is needed for the complete restoration. However, the negative impact can be neutralized effectively in the long run.

Karcher, Wandschneider, and Powers (2013) analyze the current sustainability problems in Vietnam. As it is a developing country, it presents a considerable interest in the further development of the proposed project. The authors examine the local conditions and operations in Vietnamese farms. They demonstrate that these ones are very different in comparison with developed countries. At the same time, the essence of major agricultural problems is similar. The authors stress the global character of agricultural and environmental challenges. The implemented program has allowed minimizing cultural differences between the Vietnamese and the citizens of developed countries (Karcher, Wandschneider, & Powers, 2013). Thus, information campaigns are a necessary element of agricultural management in the 21st century. The effective decisions to the existing sustainability challenges may be found only if social, economic, and environmental aspects are well-integrated.

In general, sustainability and agricultural problems in developing countries are examined from different perspectives. However, there is a lack of specific recommendations and clearly defined strategies regarding the improvement of the current situation in developing countries. Therefore, there is a need for integrating the above views and concepts into a single and comprehensive system. On the one hand, global environmental trends should be taken into account. On the other hand, they should be applied to the economic, social, and cultural conditions of developing countries. Finally, drought conditions and corresponding conditions should be evaluated properly.

Strategy for Addressing the Problem

In order to solve all the above objectives, the proper strategy should be implemented. It seems that such methods as experiments, observations, and modeling are relevant. Experiments are necessary for determining the effect of using new technologies in a sphere of drought-resistant plants. For this reason, it is reasonable to organize the corresponding experiments in the United States. It seems that California has similar conditions to those of many developing countries especially regarding climate and corresponding issues. For this reason, one of the farms provided by the California Agricultural Water Stewardship Initiative may be used for evaluating the ability of plants to grow under extreme drought conditions.

Although the results may be lower in comparison with the appropriate factors, it is expected that innovations may allow increasing the current productivity. Then, the positive effect should be presented in monetary terms and compared with the expected costs. If the expected financial benefits exceed costs, then the proposed innovations can be adopted and used (Anwar et al., 2013). Otherwise, it is necessary to evaluate other alternatives and try to determine the most rational strategy. In any case, the selected combination of drought-resistant plants should be effective both from technological and economic perspectives. The latter ones are also important because the development of agriculture can be facilitated if it is beneficial for entrepreneurs. It is reasonable to implement the project during the two years in order to assess the dynamics of plants and the long-term impact of innovations on productivity.

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However, experiments alone are insufficient for ensuring the reliability and high results of the designed project. The reason is that experiments reflect only the applicability of specific methods in specific conditions such as Californian farms. However, any other natural conditions are not identical to these ones. Moreover, climate conditions also subject to change, and new unpredicted challenges may emerge. Therefore, it is reasonable to consider a broad set of agricultural processes and trends to understand the major potential opportunities and threats better (Karcher, Wandschneider, & Powers, 2013). Observations may be applicable in this context. They may be used from several perspectives. At the micro-level, they may serve as a source of information for the observed dynamics of plants’ productivity. The ultimate objective at the micro-level is improving the living standards of the general population in developing countries (Geng et al., 2014).

At the same time, they may also be applied to a broader set of questions at the macro-level. For example, it is necessary to observe climate change dynamics in different parts of the world. These trends can be extrapolated into the future to estimate the expected relationships between the quantities of products demanded and supplied. Currently, the demand for food in developing countries exceeds the food supply considerably. This state of affairs should be reversed. The quantity supplied should be equal or even exceed the demand for products. In order to solve this challenge effectively, it is important to rely on modeling that can provide researchers with quantitative insights regarding the future structure of the food market and the optimal interventions.

Traditional statistical models may allow predicting the future level of consumer demand with a specified probability. It seems that the probability of 95% may be used for determining the range of possible amounts of food that should be produced for satisfying the growing consumer demand (Karcher, Wandschneider, & Powers, 2013). Then, it is possible to determine the difference between this theoretical level and the current one. If the proposed strategy of encouraging drought-resistant plants allows covering this difference, then it can be implemented without any future adjustments. Otherwise, the modeling procedure should be applied in a way to specify the major independent variables and factors. Latter ones influence the productivity of agriculture and the possibility of covering the existing gap between the quantities demanded and supplied.

Various methods such as t-tests may allow determining those factors that demonstrate the highest statistical significance. Thus, the researchers may stimulate them to maximize the generally positive results. However, it is reasonable to have several alternative options to be able to meet consumers’ demands under different climates and other conditions. Therefore, researchers and agriculture specialists may rank the existing agricultural factors, according to their ability to influence the general productivity. If the preferred option cannot be realized for any reason, it is necessary to select the second-best alternative. In this way, the overall strategy can be optimized.

Finally, it is necessary to ensure that all the above methods are combined with one another effectively. They are not used in isolation. For example, observation may serve as a basis for further analysis and modeling of various scenarios. Experiments may allow testing various hypotheses and applicability of planting techniques in drought conditions. However, as it is impossible to organize testing in all developing countries simultaneously, it is reasonable to select the area in the United States that may serve as an approximation of such climate conditions. It seems that the farms of the California Agricultural Water Stewardship Initiative are the optimal option for providing such experiments. The results of such tests, observations, and modeling should be evaluated closely and compared with one another. If any contradictions are identified, it is necessary to reevaluate the assumptions and conclusions of all models and experiments. It is likely that some errors can be determined because all models, observations, and experiments should contribute to creating a coherent picture of reality.

Broader Implications of the Proposed Research

Although the proposed research is concentrated only on one particular issue (increasing the availability of food in developing countries through using drought-resistant plants), it has a large number of broader implications. It may even affect the overall trends of the agriculture industry. The following broad implications may be formulated. First, both developed and developing countries should participate in developing global environmental policy. The reason is that the modern world creates global environmental challenges for all countries. The positive results cannot be generated if some countries abstain from policy development and implementation. The major financial burden may be distributed non-uniformly (due to the lack of financial and economic resources in developing countries), all nations can make their important contributions in solving this problem. Developed countries may provide the initial financial capital, organize research, and provide experiments. Developing countries may apply the methods proposed by developed countries and adjust them to their local conditions (Pfister et al., 2011). Moreover, developing countries should be responsible for using scarce economic resources effectively and satisfy the needs for food of all population groups regardless of their income.

Second, this research has an important implication in relation to stressing the need for innovative solutions in the agricultural sector. Although the significance of innovations is generally recognized, it is often understood in a purely technological sense. However, this research shows that the effectiveness of innovations should include not only technological characteristics though economic aspects and the ability to addressing consumer needs. Thus, the assessment of innovations’ effectiveness is impossible without addressing and considering the structure and dynamics of consumer preferences. It is important to take into account both the structure and the overall amount of quantity demanded (Pfister et al., 2011). The latter is needed for assessing the long-term dynamics of production decisions while the former may help to optimize the distribution of products among developing countries.

Budget

All the above elements are highly important; the overall project is incomplete if the detailed budget is not provided. Therefore, it is necessary to specify the major categories of expenses. They are presented in Table 1.

Table 1.

Estimated Budget of the Project (by Categories)

Categories Year 1 Year 2 Total
Salary (part-time employment: 4 months per year) 30,000 40,000 70,000
Travel 2,000 2,000 4,000
Analytical Expenses 1,500 1,500 3,000
Equipment/material costs 4,000 4,000 8,000
Other costs 1,500 2,000 3,500
Totals 39,000 49,500 88,500

Thus, the total project’s budget for the two years of its realization is $88,500. Although this amount of expenses is considerable, it seems that it may generate much higher revenues. Moreover, this project is the foundation for the subsequent large-scale development of international cooperation in the sphere of solving the existing problems related to food shortages in developing countries. Table 1 demonstrates that the largest fraction of costs refers to the salary of senior personnel and research associates. The number of researchers may increase in the second year due to the need for making an additional statistical analysis. Other expenses may remain comparatively stable. The estimated costs for the first year are equal to $39,000 while those ones for the second year are equal to $49,500. However, all investments may be covered successfully in the long run if all parties perform their functions properly and coordinate their strategies.

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Conclusion

It may be concluded that sustainable agriculture requires the implementation of effective and well-coordinated projects in this sphere. The provided analysis shows that there are different approaches to solving this problem. Some researchers concentrate on innovations and forecasts. Meanwhile, others suggest that the interrelationships between climate change and agricultural development should be the main focus of research. In any case, almost all experts claim that the level of threats is very high. Urgent and effective response strategies are needed to reverse the existing tendency. The major problem is the growing food shortages in developing countries. As the population growth rates are significant, the demand for food in developing countries tends to increase rapidly. However, the market supply remains comparatively stable. All the people’s needs cannot be satisfied adequately.

The proposed strategy allows for solving existing problems in an innovative way. In particular, it is stressed that the major resources should be delivered to investigating the potential of drought-resistant plants. It is reasonable to use the farms in California for conducting such experiments. The observations of global trends are also needed. It is reasonable to address all aspects of the problem in a complex way that integrates the interests of all parties involved. The modern statistical models may be helpful for assessing these trends and extrapolating them into the future. It is also possible to assess the impact of various independent variables on dependent ones. Therefore, the project should be flexible. Any changes in the external environment should be reflected in the project’s structure.

The estimated budget is $88,500 for the two years of the project’s realization. The expenses will increase in the second year. The reason is that some additional analytics may be needed for assessing the effectiveness of new planting methods and the estimated time period when all major problems can be solved. In general, the proposed project can be beneficial and effective both from financial and environmental perspectives. It may lead to significant long-term results and demonstrate the patterns of the mutually beneficial cooperation between developed and developing countries.