The journal AGRICULTURA TROPICA ET SUBTROPICA (ATS) is publishing original research and review articles on issues of tropical and subtropical agriculture and rural development. However, new aspects of the rural development in tropics and subtropics such as agriculture sustainability, biodiversity protection, wildlife management and agro-forestry has recently emerged and started impacting future of the developing countries; therefore they all need to be reflected in the articles published in our journal.
The above tendency is not new and respects the main principles of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG´s) as developed by the United Nations. MDG´s represent an ambitious agenda of principles and approaches for reducing poverty, saving and improving human welfare that world leaders agreed upon at the Millennium Summit in September 2000. Four of them are in a special focus of our research/development effort (according to the MDG´s usual order): 1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, 2. Achieve universal primary education, 3. Ensure environmental sustainability and 4. Develop a global partnership for development. However, we could find links of our activities to other MDG´s, too. All the above challenges exceed the scope of rural areas however the problems the goals address are especially precarious in the rural areas generating poverty and, as the consequence, so called "rural exodus" of village population for cities or other countries.
They can be met, but they are beyond the scope and resources of individuals, governments, communities, civic society and industry when they are working in isolation. They can only be addressed through prerequisites such as: combination of better policies and governance, fairer trade, greater investments in ecosystem management, new technologies and values, and purposeful partnerships. The World Food Summit - Six Years After (Rome 2002) formulated them as the main principles of further problem solution: good governance; respecting laws; respect for human rights and wider participation of the LDC (less developed countries) in the global economy and world trade.
This will require clear goals, changes in attitude, taking of risks, altering values and acceptance of trade-offs. We need to be clearer on the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders and shareholders. Studies by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and others have shown that the success in partnerships requires leadership, a clear and shared goal, trust between the parties, incentives and rewards, the means to assess progress, resources to do the job and an acceptance that all parties should contribute in some way to the attainment of the goal. This is common sense, but the shortage of successful examples in agriculture and agricultural research deserves analysis and discussion.
The articles published in ATS are product of research activities conducted in the field of agriculture, rural development and related sectors. For the research to be productive, it should be clear what sort of agriculture and rural development we are aiming to develop at, where and how the farming systems of the future will pass their ultimate test of sustainability - that the farmers can make a reasonable living and that their children want to be engaged in farming. There has been a considerable progress made in the approach to the agricultural research and also the funding of research at present is much better than some decades ago. In the 1960 - 1970s only research of modern (mostly large-scale) farming provided with mechanical power technologies and high yielding plant varieties and animal breeds were considered. The more recent concepts of appropriateness and sustainability have changed the policy approach and implementation of the research.
Articles published in ATS should contribute to the above recent development by its impartial involvement in the academic-practical discussion on researcher´s ethic approach to modern concepts of the research. It is because the research has got new multiple tasks such as helping in decision-making, solving problems, improving choices and opportunities, monitoring impacts, developing new technologies and their dissemination and engaging and winning the trust of the society.
The scientists should provide consulting services and disseminate their research results so that a rapid utilization of new findings, patents and techniques place. However, there are some research areas that produce doubts and uncertainty rather than better approaches and clear concepts. For example, current debates on the use of transgenic technologies and GMO´s absorb huge amounts of time and resources which detracts both the funding of agricultural research and benefits that could be utilized by the society. These are typical public goods for which the responsibility must be taken by governments and public national or international donors. Other technologic progress based upon research achievements and destined for the markets must be funded and developed by private companies.