Regenerative farming

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This recent article on discusses a growing number of both nonprofit and for-profit enterprises that are finding new ways for farmers to make money, and in the process to renew the land they use.

In a Zambian valley 61,000 small scale farmers are paid 20% over the market price in return for not killing certain animals. Their output is then used to create premium priced products.

Other projects encourage water conservation, conversion of human sanitation waste into fertiliser, honey bees that increase crop yields wherever they are placed.

Key is the Savory Institute, a non-profit that aims to restore a billion hectares of degraded grasslands around the world by 2025, using a network of rural business incubators.

The general themes? To convert waste into something useful. To leverage synergies between activities, so that the product of the whole becomes larger. To work literally from the ground up, protecting the land and its biodiversity as a first step, and then building human-supporting systems and businesses on top of that.

To work, in short, as a generative permabusiness.

Other examples include ecotourism, carbon credit sales and leather, wool and beef certification, which companies such as Patagonia and Stella McCartney want to buy.

Returns are slow, and climate change is making the going difficult. But ultimately the only alternative to generative land use is degenerative land use. And that simply is not sustainable.

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