Dear Friends and Colleagues
meta-analysis of 50 case studies collected by the Alliance for Food
Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) from 22 African countries shows the contribution
of agroecology to the attainment of the UN Sustainable Development
Goals (SDGs). The trends clearly illustrate the potential of agroecology
to sustainably increase food sovereignty while conserving biodiversity
and respecting indigenous farmers’ knowledge and innovations.
Mapping the case study findings against the SDGs provides a useful summary of a large body of information on agroecology, showing very clear trends of wide ranging benefits to the social, environmental and economic dimensions of African small-scale producers’ lives. The meta-analysis finds that agroecology contributes positively to 10 of the 17 SDGs and makes a clear case for cross-cutting policy that supports agroecology. Positive impacts include: increased access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food; increased productivity and farmers’ incomes; sustainability of food production systems; reduced post harvest losses; maintenance of genetic diversity; and reduced release of chemicals to water and soil.
With best wishes,
CONTRIBUTES TO THE SDGS
meta-analysis of 50 case studies from 22 African countries shows the
contribution of agroecology to the attainment of the UN Sustainable
Development Goals (SDGs). The trends revealed here make clear the
potential of agroecology to sustainably increase food sovereignty
while conserving biodiversity and respecting indigenous farmers’ knowledge
measuring yield is not enough – we need to establish new ways of measuring
the impact of our agricultural systems. Many are grappling with the
task of developing more holistic tools, notably FAO and IPES Food.
Meanwhile, there is a recently established benchmark against which
we can gauge our progress: the SDGs.
The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) is a Pan-African platform made up of farmer organisations and networks, championing small family farming production systems based on agroecological and indigenous approaches that sustain food sovereignty and the livelihoods of communities. Starting in 2013, AFSA and partners collected 50 case studies of agroecology from 22 African countries, with the aim of strengthening the case for agroecology as the bold future of farming in Africa. From adapting Sustainable Rice Intensification (SRI) to Ethiopian staples such as teff, wheat and finger millet to improving upon traditional systems of soil fertility management and setting up a national agroecology association in Togo, the 50 case studies document the experience of a diverse range of agroecological approaches, collectively involving several million farmers. The full collection is freely available online at http://afsafrica.org/case-studies/.
further strengthen the case for agroecology, AFSA member organisation,
Tanzania Organic Agriculture Movement (TOAM), recently developed a
simple tool to establish how these case studies contribute to the
SDGs. Three project officers examined the 50 case studies, using the
tool to record positive and negative impacts against the SDG goals
and targets. A two-page checklist containing the most relevant
ten SDGs and 32 subsidiary targets was developed and used to cross
check each case study, ticking off all reported incidences of positive
or negative impact. For example if a case study reported that the
use of chemical fertilizers was reduced, then a tick would be placed
against SDG Target 12.4, ‘Reduce release of chemicals to water and
soil and impacts on human health and the environment’.
Agroecology contributes positively in various ways to ten of the 17 SDGs (see table). Notably, every case study showed a positive impact towards the goal, ‘End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.’ Positive impacts are seen in increased access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food; increased productivity and farmers’ incomes; sustainability of food production systems; and maintenance of genetic diversity. Celestino Ndungu, a farmer from Ndungu, Kenya explains: “Our farm was very poor. We used to gather the crop residues and burn them but now we make compost which we use as fertilizer. For three years now we have never used any chemical fertilizer or sprays. Secondly we used to buy vegetables for our family but today we sell vegetables, fruits and other crops for income.”
The number and percentage of case studies, from the total (50), that contribute to each of the ten most relevant SDGs.
thirds of case studies reported positive impact towards the goal,
‘responsible production and consumption’, through sustainable management
and efficient use of natural resources, reduced post harvest losses,
and reduced release of chemicals to water and soil. This is well illustrated
by Jones Thomson, farmer in Choma, Zambia: “As organic farmers we
have always used local plants for pest control in our family. We encourage
many wild plant species to grow on our fallow land and field margins
that we can use as pesticides. Many of the plants have other uses
too, such as increasing soil fertility or their flowers supporting
pollinators that maximise our crop yields.” A similar number of the
case studies also showed a positive impact towards the goal related
to ‘quality education’. Many of the case studies report families using
their increased incomes to send their children to school, as well
as farmers learning vocational skills through agro-ecology schools,
and communities gaining knowledge and skills to promote sustainable
meta-analysis raised some concerns about duplication or crossover
within the SDGs. For example ‘building resilience to climate related
extreme events’ occurs as a target within the ‘No poverty’ goal, yet
the issue occurs again as a separate goal, ‘Climate action’. Moreover,
the collection of case studies shows additional benefits of agroecology
that are not well captured in the SDGs. For example, farmers praised
the low cost of the technologies used, the use of locally available
and locally adapted resources, and the value placed on indigenous
case studies are real life experiences and testimonies of farmers,
pastoralists, and other small scale producers in communities across
Africa. Mapping the case study findings against the SDGs provides
a useful summary of a large body of information on agroecology, showing
very clear trends of wide ranging benefits to the social, environmental
and economic dimensions of African small scale producers’ lives.
The Sustainable Development Goals
On 25th September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, along with a set of 17 SDGs and 126 associated targets. The SDGs are a new, universal set of goals, targets and indicators that UN member states are expected to use to frame their agendas and policies over the next 15 years. The SDGs follow and expand on the millennium development goals (MDGs), which spanned 2001 to 2015. There is broad agreement that, while the MDGs provided a framework around which governments could develop policies, they were too narrow. And unlike when preparing the MDGs, the UN has conducted the largest consultation programme in its history to gauge opinion on what the SDGs should include.