Agriculture plays a vital role in the livelihoods of millions of people, particularly in tropical regions where the majority of the population depends on agriculture for their income and food security. However, traditional agricultural practices in these regions often lead to degradation of natural resources, including soil, water and biodiversity, threatening the long-term sustainability of the agriculture sector. In the face of these challenges, the concept of sustainable agriculture has gained traction as a way to ensure that agriculture continues to provide food and income while also preserving the environment for future generations.

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a framework for addressing global challenges, including those related to agriculture. SDG 2, which aims to end hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture, is particularly relevant to the discussion of sustainable agriculture in tropical agro-ecosystems. Other relevant SDGs include SDG 6, which aims to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, and SDG 14, which aims to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

In tropical Agro-ecosystems, sustainable agriculture combines traditional knowledge with modern science to create an efficient, resilient, and eco-friendly agricultural sector. This is accomplished through various practices such as conservation agriculture, which involves minimal soil disturbance, maintaining permanent vegetation cover, and crop rotation to preserve soil and water resources and enhance biodiversity. Another method is agroforestry, which integrates trees into the agricultural landscape to produce a multi-layered system that offers soil and water conservation, improved crop yields, and increased biodiversity. Integrated Pest Management is another key aspect, which relies on the use of natural predators and biological control agents and reduces the use of chemical pesticides to minimize the environmental impact of pest control. Finally, water management, which is vital in tropical regions facing water scarcity, includes rainwater collection, efficient irrigation systems, and other water-saving techniques.

Statistics show that sustainable agriculture is making a positive impact in tropical regions. For example, in sub-Saharan Africa, the adoption of conservation agriculture practices has been shown to increase crop yields by up to 50% (FAO, 2015). In addition, agroforestry has been shown to improve the livelihoods of farmers, particularly in terms of increased income and food security (World Agroforestry Centre, 2018). Furthermore, the adoption of integrated pest management practices has been shown to reduce pesticide use by up to 90% in some regions (IPM CRSP, 2017). By adopting sustainable agriculture practices, it is possible to increase food security, improve livelihoods, and conserve natural resources for future generations. The SDGs provide a framework for addressing the challenges facing the agriculture sector, and by integrating sustainable agriculture into the broader development agenda, it is possible to achieve a more sustainable future for all.

The 2023 Summer course on Smart-Eco Bioproduction Agriculture (SC-SOBA) centered on the crucial topic of sustainable agricultural development in tropical agro-ecosystems. Through education on sustainable tropical agriculture, Indonesia can fulfill its commitments under international agreements such as the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically SDG 2 which strives to eradicate hunger, achieve food security and nutrition, and advance sustainable agriculture. Investing in education on sustainable agriculture is crucial for Indonesia to secure a sustainable future for its agriculture sector and its people.