Dear Friends and Colleagues
Agroecology in Action
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is currently highlighting a series of profiles on agroecology, which share the experiences of producers and organizations working with agroecological systems around the world. 52 profiles, one a week, will be published in one year. The profiles are available at: http://www.fao.org/family-farming/themes/agroecology/en/
The published Report on the Multi-Stakeholder Consultation on Agroecology in Asia and the Pacific, organized by FAO and held in Bangkok in November 2015, has also been made available. Participants highlighted that a reversal of the existing chemical-dependence of farming is needed. At the same time, there is a need for a transition towards agroecology, which has proven track records in improving harvests for farmers while safeguarding the environment. For an agroecological transition to happen in Asia, the existing, production-focused paradigm of agricultural development will need to make way for a more holistic, people-and rights-centred approach.
The summary of the Report is reproduced below. The full report is available at http://www.fao.org/documents/card/en/c/d78652f2-a578-44aa-bba7-bed305e76790/
With best wishes,
on the Multi-Stakeholder Consultation on Agroecology
and the Pacific
Seeking to gain a better understanding of the role that agroecology can play in eradicating hunger and malnutrition, FAO organized the International Symposium on agroecology for Food Security and Nutrition in September 2014 in Rome, Italy, followed by three regional meetings in Asia and the Pacific, sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean. The Multi- stakeholder Consultation on agroecology for Asia and the Pacific was held in Bangkok, Thailand on 24-26 November 2015.
FAO acted as a facilitator to enable debates and foster collaboration among a variety of actors in order to advance science, knowledge, public policies, programmes and experiences on agroecology, supporting the strengthening of the already-extensive evidence-based knowledge for agroecological approaches in agriculture.
The participants in this meeting, representatives of governments, civil society, including peasants, fisherfolks, pastoralists, urban communities, indigenous peoples, women’s organizations, youth and others, academia, and private sector, issued recommendations for the development of agroecology in Asia and the Pacific after two days of discussion (see annex 1).
It was stated that, in a number of cases, farmers’ incomes and livelihoods have been negatively affected by the Green Revolution approaches, and farmers have become disempowered by the process. A reversal of the existing chemical-dependence of farming is needed. Agroecology, which is based on the adaptation of agriculture to local conditions, natural cycles and inclusive needs is integrated in the way of life of many small producers as they conserve the ecosystems that underpin their own survival.
Agroecological solutions combine traditional farming practices with existing and novel farming holistic management systems, such as: Systems of Rice Intensification, Integrated Farming, Conservation Agriculture, Integrated Pest Management, Organic Agriculture and Agroforestry. Results of these agroecological solutions have proven track records on improving harvests for farmers while safeguarding the environment.
Based on the consensus that conventional agriculture makes farmers more vulnerable, particularly in the context of a changing climate, participants in the regional meeting emphasized the need for a transition towards agroecology through a better integration of ecosystem services into agriculture. By using agroecological practices at farm level, farmers can save money and use ecosystem services to increase the value of the farm.
Agroecology is both knowledge intensive and based on interdisciplinary approaches, which represents an innovation but also a challenge. Meeting participants emphasized the utility of multistakeholders platforms for the collection and exchange of agroecological experiences and innovations. They emphasized the importance of integrating agroecology in the curricula of both formal and informal primary and higher education, including Farmer Field Schools.
The importance of support from governments for consumer awareness and education for agroecological principles and values and for creating an enabling environment for agroecological products was highlighted.
Empowering smallholder farmers was presented as a priority to end hunger and achieve economic, social, and environmental sustainability. For an agroecological transition to happen in Asia, it was stated that the existing, production-focused paradigm of agricultural development will need to make way for a more holistic, people-and rights-centred approach.
Farmers are in transition, moving away from Green Revolution approaches, but they are at different stages of the transition. Interdisciplinary and participatory research should be used to assure support to different levels of transition and demonstrate concrete and relevant evidence of the environmental, economic and social performance of agroecology.
Change is already happening and more is needed in order to put forth a new paradigm of agriculture not solely focused on production but on people’s rights and needs, including those of future generations, through ecosystem goods and services.