The transition to agroecology and food sovereignty in Tanzania and Mozambique. Conversations with Mviwata on peasant markets, and with UNAC on the contributions of peasant farming for society as a whole.
Marracuene Agroecology Project
About 70% of the population in the world get their food from small-scale food producers, small scale farmers, pastoralists, fishers, hunters and gatherers. Small-scale farming has been recognised as the key to ending poverty. The Marracuene Agroecology pilot, started in June 2015 in Mozambique. It is unique, sustainable and focuses on agroecological production, increasing the autonomy of local communities, putting farmers in the “driving seat” of decision-making.
This video is a collaboration of More and Better, Heidehof Stiftung and the Center for Agroecology, Water and Resilience (CAWR) of the Coventry University
Seeds for Change: Community Seed Banks in Nepal
Community seed bank has more than 20 years of history in Nepal. The main objectives of establishing a community seed banks are to halt the rapid erosion of local varieties and their on-farm management, improving local livelihoods and resilience through providing easy access to quality seeds of diverse crops and varieties at the local level and realizing farmers’ rights on seed. This video presents some cases of how community seed banks in Nepal supported by LI-BIRD in collaboration with various development partners are achieving the conservation and livelihood goals.
An Introduction to Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS)
This short video explains the basis of Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS). It was designed as a trailer and short version of the documentary: A guide to Participatory Guarantee Systems for Organic Agriculture available to watch here
The video was produced by IFOAM – Organics International with the financial support of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural cooperation (CTA). It includes interviews and scenes from the following PGS initiatives:
N&P – Nature et Progres in France
Rede Ecovida – Rede Ecovida de Agroecologia in Brazil
BONM – Bryanston Organic and Natural Market in South Africa
SOPA – Sabeto Organic Producers Association in Fiji
For more information on PGS, go to http://www.ifoam.bio/pgs
Soil, Struggle and Justice: Agroecology in the Brazilian Landless Movement
This film examines a cooperative of the Brazilian Landless Movement (MST) in the South of Brazil, which struggled for access to land and then transitioned to ecological agriculture, or agroecology. This MST cooperative is demonstrating the possibility of an alternative model of flourishing rural life, which provides thriving livelihoods for farmers, produces high quality and low cost food for the region, and rehabilitates the earth.
Video: Investing in Agroecology
This video features Angela Hilmi discussing about giving peasants access to financing by investing in their farm without resulting to indebtedness. Angela also talks about empowering peasants by giving them the freedom to choose the methods that they would want to employ which results to autonomy and not depedency.
This video is a part of the presentations at the Online Congress of Agroecology in Brazil which took place from 27 June to 3 July 2016. For more information about the conference, please head to http://www.agroecoweb.com.br/
How to leave industrial agriculture behind – food systems experts urge global shift towards agroecology
(Brussels / Trondheim: 2nd June) Input-intensive crop monocultures and industrial-scale feedlots must be consigned to the past in order to put global food systems onto sustainable footing, according to the world’s foremost experts on food security, agro-ecosystems and nutrition.
The solution is to diversify agriculture and reorient it around ecological practices, whether the starting point is highly-industrialized agriculture or subsistence farming in the world’s poorest countries, the experts argued.
The International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food), led by Olivier De Schutter, former UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, released its findings today in a reportentitled ‘From Uniformity to Diversity: A paradigm shift from industrial agriculture to diversified agroecological systems’.
De Schutter said: “Many of the problems in food systems are linked specifically to the uniformity at the heart of industrial agriculture, and its reliance on chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Simply tweaking industrial agriculture will not provide long-term solutions to the multiple problems it generates.”
He added: “It is not a lack of evidence holding back the agroecological alternative. It is the mismatch between its huge potential to improve outcomes across food systems, and its much smaller potential to generate profits for agribusiness firms.”
The report was presented today at the 8th Trondheim Biodiversity Conference (Norway) by lead author Emile Frison, former Director General of Bioversity International.
The report reviews the latest evidence on the outcomes of the different production models, and identifies eight key reasons why industrial agriculture is locked in place despite its negative outcomes. It also maps out a series of steps to break these cycles and shift the centre of gravity in food systems.
Frison explained that some of the key obstacles to change are about who has the power to set the agenda. “The way we define food security and the way we measure success in food systems tend to reflect what industrial agriculture is designed to deliver – not what really matters in terms of building sustainable food systems,” Frison stated.
Based on a review of the latest evidence, the expert panel identified industrial agriculture as a key contributor to the most urgent problems in food systems:
- Food systems contribute around 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions;
- Around 20% of land on earth is now degraded;
- More than 50% of human plant-derived foods now depend on three crops (rice, maize and wheat); 20% of livestock breeds are at risk of extinction;
- The extinction of wild species and the application of insecticides threaten the 35% of global crops dependent on pollination;
- Around 2 billion people suffer from micronutrient deficiencies; current food systems produce an abundance of energy-rich, nutrient-poor crops.
The experts concluded that a fundamental shift towards diversified agroecological farming* can deliver simultaneous benefits for productivity, the environment and society.
A growing body of evidence shows that diversified agroecological systems deliver strong and stable yields by building healthy ecosystems where different plants and species interact in ways that improve soil fertility and water retention. They perform particularly well under environmental stress and deliver production increases in the places where additional food is most needed.
Diversified agroecological systems have also shown major potential to keep carbon in the ground, increase resource efficiency and restore degraded land, turning agriculture into one of the key solutions to climate change.
Diversifed agriculture also holds the key to increasing dietary diversity at the local level, as well as reducing the multiple health risks from industrial agriculture (e.g. pesticide exposure, antibiotic resistance).
Some of the key findings:
- Average organic yields equivalent to conventional agriculture, and 30% higher in drought years (30-year study);
- Total outputs in diversified grassland systems 15%-79% higher than in monocultures;
- 2-4x higher resource efficiency on small-scale agroecological farms;
- 30% more species and 50% higher abundance of biodiversity on organic farms;
- Around 50% more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids in organic meat and milk.
The experts identified major promise in the burgeoning initiatives now forming around alternative food and farming systems, from new forms of political cooperation to the development of new market relationships that bypass conventional retail circuits.
“The challenge is to join up these initiatives,” Frison urged. “Farmers can only be expected to transform their practices when they are certain that they will find markets. And consumers will only shift towards healthy, sustainable food when it is accessible and affordable to them. These changes must lock each other in, just as current dynamics conspire to lock them out.”
De Schutter added: “We must change the way we set political priorities. The steps towards diversified agroecological farming are steps to democratize decision-making and to rebalance power in food systems.”
Read the executive summary
Read the full report
Read the key messages, also available in French and Spanish
*Diversified agroecological farming refers to models of agriculture based on diversifying farms and farming landscapes, replacing chemical inputs, optimizing biodiversity and stimulating interactions between different species, as part of holistic strategies to build long-term fertility, healthy agro-ecosystems and secure livelihoods. Organic agriculture often reflects these principles, but organic certification does not guarantee a holistic diversified approach.
Life in Syntropy
“Life in Syntropy” is the new short film from Agenda Gotsch made specially to be presented at COP21 – Paris. This film put together some of the most remarkable experiences in Syntropic Agriculture, with brand new images and interviews.
Earth Talk: Agroecology: Who will feed us in a planet in crisis with Miguel A. Altieri
There is a need for strategies that lead to the revitalization of small and medium sized farms, and point the way towards the reshaping of the entire agricultural policy and food system in ways that are economically viable to farmers and consumers. Currently proposed “sustainable intensification” in agriculture is ideologically buttressed by intellectual projects to reframe and redefine agroecology by stripping it of its political and social content and promoting the wrong notion that agro-ecological methods can co-exist alongside the aggressive expansion of transgenic crops and agrofuels. Many environmental and advocacy groups privilege those with access to capital and perpetuate an “agriculture of the poor for the rich”. The technological determinism that the organic agriculture movement emphasizes, through development and dissemination of low-input or appropriate technologies, is not only naïve but also dangerous, as it assumes these technologies in themselves have the capability of initiating beneficial social changes.
Join Miguel A . Altieri, one of the leading voices in agricultural sustainability, and gain insights on how agroecology can provide sound solutions to the current global challenge of food security and agricultural sustainability worldwide.
Another Giant Leap: Can the solutions for climate change help us fix poverty too?
The Conference of Parties (COP21) has just been recently concluded in Paris, France. The new text promises to further search for solutions to fight climate change that would definitely impact our impoverished fellows. The rise of industrial agricultural systems has brought high yield crops to feed the world but has also imparted significantly to global warming. Starting at 17:00 of the video produced by Aljazeera, Agroecology is being considered by our partners in Burkina Faso, as a sustainable solution in feeding the world without contributing to the rise of temperatures globally.