This paper defines agroecosystems and examines the variety of strategies used to create such a system such as productivity, stability, sustainability and equitability. It states that agricultural development involves a trade-off between these properties. It demonstrates this through selected examples from agricultual history, including the origins of agriculture, manorial and modern Western agriculture and the Green Revolution in Indonesia. It is suggested that these properties may be used normatively as combined criteria for evaluating the performance of agricultural development programmes and projects.
This paper may be of interest to government policy makers and planners in the South, NGO fieldworkers, agriculturalists and economists.