Friends and Colleagues
Environmental, Socio-Cultural, Economic and Political Principles of
speaking there is a need to clarify what agroecology is and what it
is not in order to gather political support, for the discipline to
flourish, to avoid co-optation and fight against false solutions,
etc. A recent publication by CIDSE (International Cooperation for
Development and Solidarity)identifies principles to strengthen the
narrative and advocacy on agroecology. The publication splits the
different principles into four dimensions of sustainability: environmental,
socio-cultural, economic and political. The rationale for this is
dimension: Agroecology increases resilience to climate change
and contributes to efficient carbon sequestration. Agroecology helps
to build self-sufficient, healthy, pollution-free systems that provide
an accessible and diverse range of safe food, energy and other domestic
dimension:Agroecology allows the development of appropriate
technologies closely tailored to the needs and circumstances of
specific small-scale farmers, peasants, indigenous people, pastoralists,
fisherfolks, herders, hunter-gatherers communities in their own
environment. It also creates opportunities for women to increase
their economic autonomy and influence power relationships.
dimension:Small-scale farmers benefit from implementing agroecology
as they can sustainably increase their yields, improve their food
and nutrition security and raise their income. By using local resources
and providing food to local and regional markets, agroecology has
the potential to boost local economies.
dimension:When part of a food sovereignty approach, agroecology
represents a democratic transition in food systems that empowers
peasants, pastoralists, fisherfolks, indigenous peoples, consumers
and other groups, allowing their voice to inform policy making from
community to national and international level. It lets these groups
claim/ achieve their right to food.
principles of each dimension are listed below. The full publication
is available at https://www.cidse.org/publications/just-food/food-and-climate/the-principles-of-agroecology.html
131 Jalan Macalister
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PRINCIPLES OF AGROECOLOGY - TOWARDS JUST, RESILIENT AND SUSTAINABLE
3 April 2018
environmental dimension of agroecology
enhances positive interaction, synergy, integration, and complementarities
between the elements of agro-ecosystems (plants, animals, trees,
soil, water, etc.) and food systems (water, renewable energy, and
the connections of re-localised food chains).
builds and conserves life in the soil to provide favourable conditions
for plant growth.
optimises and closes resource loops (nutrients, biomass) by recycling
existing nutrients and biomass in farming and food systems.
optimises and maintains biodiversity above and below ground (a wide
range of species and varieties, genetic resources, locally-adapted
varieties/breeds, etc.) over time and space (at plot, farm and landscape
eliminates the use of and dependency on external synthetic inputs
by enabling farmers to control pests, weeds and improve fertility
through ecological management.
supports climate adaptation and resilience while contributing to
greenhouse gas emission mitigation (reduction and sequestration)
through lower use of fossil fuels and higher carbon sequestration
social and cultural dimension of agroecology
is rooted in the culture, identity, tradition, innovation and knowledge
of local communities.
contributes to healthy, diversified, seasonally- and culturally-appropriate
is knowledge-intensive and promotes horizontal (farmer-to-farmer)
contacts for sharing of knowledge, skills, and innovations, together
with alliances giving equal weight to farmer and researcher.
creates opportunities for and promotion of solidarity and discussion
between and among culturally diverse peoples (e.g. different ethnic
groups that share the same values yet have different practices)
and between rural and urban populations.
respects diversity between people in terms of gender, race, sexual
orientation and religion, creates opportunities for young people
and women and encourages women’s leadership and gender equality.
does not necessarily require expensive external certification as
it often relies on producer-consumer relations and transactions
based on trust, promoting alternatives to certification such as
PGS (Participatory Guarantee System) and CSA (Community-Supported
supports peoples and communities in maintaining their spiritual
and material relationship with their land and environment.
economic dimension of agroecology
promotes fair, short distribution networks rather than linear distribution
chains and builds a transparent network of relationships (often
invisible in formal economy) between producers and consumers.
primarily helps provide livelihoods for peasant families and contributes
to making local markets, economies and employment more robust.
is built on a vision of a social and solidarity economy.
promotes diversification of on-farm incomes giving farmers greater
financial independence, increases resilience by multiplying sources
of production and livelihood, promoting independence from external
inputs and reducing crop failure through its diversified system.
harnesses the power of local markets by enabling food producers
to sell their produce at fair prices and respond actively to local
reduces dependence on aid and increases community autonomy by encouraging
sustainable livelihoods and dignity.
political dimension of agroecology
prioritises the needs and interests of small-scale food producers
who supply the majority of the world’s food and it de-emphasizes
the interests of large industrial food and agricultural systems.
puts control of seed, biodiversity, land and territories, water,
knowledge and the commons into the hands of the people who are part
of the food system and so achieves better-integrated resource management.
can change power relationships by encouraging greater participation
of food producers and consumers in decision-making on food systems
and offers new governance structures.
requires a set of supportive, complementary public policies, supportive
policymakers and institutions, and public investment to achieve
its full potential.
encourages forms of social organisation needed for decentralised
governance and local adaptive management of food and agricultural
systems. It also incentivizes the self-organisation and collective
management of groups and networks at different levels, from local
to global (farmers organisations, consumers, research organisations,
academic institutions, etc).
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