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A Framework for Empirical Assessment of Agricultural Sustainability: The Case of Iran

Siavash Fallah-Alipour (), Hossein Mehrabi Boshrabadi (), Mohammad Reza Zare Mehrjerdi () and Dariush Hayati ()
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Siavash Fallah-Alipour: Department of Agricultural Economics, College of Agriculture, Shahid Bahonar University of Kerman, Kerman 76169-13439, Iran
Hossein Mehrabi Boshrabadi: Department of Agricultural Economics, College of Agriculture, Shahid Bahonar University of Kerman, Kerman 76169-13439, Iran
Mohammad Reza Zare Mehrjerdi: Department of Agricultural Economics, College of Agriculture, Shahid Bahonar University of Kerman, Kerman 76169-13439, Iran
Dariush Hayati: Department of Agricultural Extension & Education, College of Agriculture, Shiraz University, Shiraz 71441-65186, Iran

Sustainability, 2018, vol. 10, issue 12, 1-26

Abstract: In developing countries, agricultural development is still a fundamental means of poverty alleviation, economic development and, in general, sustainable development. Despite the great emphasis on sustainable agricultural development, it seems that there are many practical difficulties towards empirical assessment of agricultural sustainability. In this regard, the present study aims to propose a comprehensive framework for the assessment of agricultural sustainability and present an empirical application of the proposed framework in south-east Iran (Kerman province). The framework is based on a stepwise procedure, involving: (1) The calculation of economic, social, environmental, political, institutional and demographic indicators, covering the actual and potential aspects of unsustainability; (2) the application of Fuzzy Pairwise Comparisons and Analytic Hierarchy Process to construct composite indicators, with the purpose of incorporating the concept of social construct into the assessment process; and (3) the application of Sustainability Maps, diagrams and Barometer of Sustainability for presenting and analyzing the results. The output of the framework is a comprehensive and yet easy-to-understand picture of agricultural sustainability numerically and visually for the selected counties of the province in 2003 and 2015—via the variety of comparisons and rankings—which allows us to identify the weaknesses and strengths of agriculture in each county in various sustainability levels (comprehensive, overall actual and overall potential, dimensional, and base indicators). It also enables us to monitor and analyze the trends in sustainability changes over the years. By providing such information, this framework can be a useful tool to support agricultural sector decisions that would help planners and policymakers find the right path and move toward sustainability, or modify policies to stay in the right direction over time. Overall, the results suggest that the proposed framework can be an effective tool for the assessment of agricultural sustainability. Of course, it is necessary to examine and validate its capabilities through practical applications in different agricultural areas and systems.

Keywords: sustainability assessment framework; status and driver composite indices; comprehensive levels of agricultural sustainability; sustainability trend; decision support; Kerman; Iran (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 O13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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