Dear Friends and Colleagues
FAO Regional Meetings on Agroecology Call for Policy Change to Support Transition
In September 2014, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) organized the International Symposium on Agroecology for Food Security and Nutrition. Following this, regional meetingson agroecology were held for Latin America and the Caribbean (Brasilia, June 2015), Africa (Dakar, November 2015) and Asia and the Pacific (Bangkok, November 2015).
There was common consensus that agroecology is the most suitable agricultural model to replace the current industrial, corporate-driven model to tackle the challenges associated with food and nutrition security, climate change, the conservation of natural resources, and the reduction of rural poverty, by strengthening the food sovereignty of smallholder food producer communities. A common outcome was a declaration issued by each meeting with recommendations for policy change to support the transition from the industrial food system towards agroecology.
Three articles on the regional meetings have been written by ILEIA - Centre for learning on sustainable agriculture, and we highlight below some of their key points:
Latin America and the Caribbean
This regional meeting emphasized that for agroecology to improve household incomes and national economies, it is vital to guarantee territorial rights for small-scale farmers. One recommendation to States and multilateral organizations in the meeting declaration was to promote public policies which boost agroecology and food sovereignty, in the face of climate change, to be defined, implemented, and monitored with the active participation of social movements and civil society groups, while making the necessary resources available. Participants also called for the necessary institutional conditions to restrict monocultures, the use of chemical pesticides and land concentration, with the aim of increasing agroecological small-scale production in the region.
Other calls were for the fostering of territorial dynamics of social innovation and technology by creating and/or strengthening the interdisciplinary core of agroecology with the capacity to link with the processes of education, research and learning; also, the official recognition of traditional, ancestral and local knowledge and cultural identity as the basis of agroecology. To achieve this, public research institutes should respect and value traditional knowledge, promoting knowledge dialogues in their research programmes.
Link to the article: http://www.agriculturesnetwork.org/news/FINALLACSeminarwithlayout.pdf
The final declaration called on governments, policy-makers and technical and financial partners to ensure access for producers, in particular women, young people and indigenous peoples, to natural resources, notably land, water and biodiversity in order to ensure certainty over land rights in keeping with FAO’s Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land. Territorial planning processes should ensure that land, trees, water and other natural resources remain under the control of local communities and not foreign investors. This would involve integrating context-specific agroecological practices into local development plans, in part to fulfill commitments under the continent-wide ‘Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Plan’ (CAADP).
Other recommendations were for African countries to develop national agroecology policy frameworks and action plans with the full participation of social movements, and for the creation of local markets for agroecological produce so that economic opportunities are created for young people to allow them to remain in their communities. The meeting further recommended the setting up of a regional platform on agroecology, coordinated by the FAO and/or NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa’s Development), to allow key actors to share their experiences and disseminate innovations.
Link to the article: http://www.agriculturesnetwork.org/news/FINALAfricaSeminarwithlayout.pdf
Asia and the Pacific
The Bangkok consultation called for greater support of traditional management practices, for local varieties of food crops, and for neglected and underutilised or drought-resistant crops. Agroecology should be integrated in the curricula in primary and higher education and in all farm educational programmes; and content and focus should be derived from the knowledge generated by small-scale food producers. Moreover, agroecology should become an integral part of sub-national, national and regional agricultural policies; therefore, appropriate legal and regulatory frameworks should be developed. Systems and practices of social innovation led by farmers should be promoted to create agroecological territories at community and collective levels.
The FAO was called upon to promote agroecology in ongoing regional programmes and initiatives, such as the agroecosystem-based Regional Rice Initiative. FAO investments in smallholder food producers should be the priority. In addition, the suggestion was made to set up a new regional initiative on agroecology which includes a monitoring system of all the activities of FAO and governments in the region in regard to agroecology.
With best wishes,