A successful sustainable crop production intensification strategy requires a fundamental shift in the management of traditional and modern knowledge, institutions, rural investment and capacity development. Policies in all of those domains will need to provide incentives to the various stakeholders and actors, especially the rural population, to participate in SCPI development. In preparing programmes for sustainable crop production intensification, policy makers need to consider overarching issues that affect not only SCPI, but are important for the development of an agricultural sector in which SCPI can be facilitated and supported. The key features of a supporting policy and institutional environment for a SCPI include:
1. Linking public and private sector support. The private sector and civil society have an important role to play in augmenting investment funds, promoting greater efficiency and accountability of institutions, and ensuring a participatory and transparent policy process. Resource mobilization should take into consideration the full range of services and products that SCPI can generate. Ecosystem services generated by a sustainable system may prove to be an important source of investment resources.
2. Increasing coordination and reducing transactions costs. Incorporating smallholders successfully into SCPI development raises the key issue of transaction costs in their access to input and output markets, extension and payments for environmental services. Institutions and technologies that facilitate participation - including farmer and community organizations, customary forms of collective action and provision of ICT – are therefore a key requirement for SCPI.
3. Incorporating the value of natural resources and ecosystem services into agricultural input and output price policies can be achieved by eliminating perverse incentives (e.g. subsidies on fertilizer, water and pesticide) or by creating positive incentives (e.g. payments for environmental services, or environmental standards/labels in value chains).
4. Building regulatory, research and advisory systems for heterogeneous production and marketing conditions. SCPI represents a shift from a highly standardized and homogenous model of agricultural production to regulatory frameworks that allow for heterogeneity - for example, by including informal seed systems in seed regulatory policies and integrating traditional knowledge into research and extension.
5. Recognizing and incorporating customary access and management practices into SCPI initiatives. Assessing the current capacity of customary systems to access the necessary inputs for SCPI, and indigenous systems of agricultural management, will both be important.