Science ehupuguw 7. November 2023

Science

Agroecology works

Prof. Dr. Johanna Jacobi from ETH Zurich and Prof. em. In the first nutrition report, Stephan Rist from the University of Bern provided a scientific analysis of the initial results of the Sufosec program. In their view, the Alliance’s approach is promising: 1) improve sustainable food systems through agroecological practices and 2) Empower communities to more actively manage the food systems on which they depend. The original version of the article reproduced here can be found in the 2022 Nutrition Report.

Scientific embedding of the results of the Sufosec report
Agroecology is increasingly being seen as an approach that can develop strategies and technologies to cope with our converging socio-ecological challenges. crises. This is how the IPCC 2022 report describes the agroecology as a solution that can contribute to both mitigating climate change as well as to adapt to it and which can be based on traditional knowledge that addresses several challenges simultaneously including the biodiversity crisis and food insecurity. The Sufosec report presents results from 16 countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia. 14,000 rural family and community farmers who promote agroecology were interviewed. The results show that agroecology not only a scientific concept and a scientific method, but also works well under complex field conditions. works: The study has shown that agroecological farming farmers diversify their production and that they can thereby can reduce hunger and malnutrition, even in areas where where hunger is frighteningly normal. Agroecology is more than a marginal or niche concept or just a feasible for wealthy farmers. On the contrary, the agroecological Agriculture can conserve resources, protect biodiversity promote, stabilize and increase income, sequester carbon and at the same time healthy, nutritious and culturally acceptable food generate. Similar to other sectors, the transition to However, agroecological practices are not yet very advanced. Technocratic, productionist and classical-economic Paradigms of the ‘green revolution’ remain predominant, even in Times in which the socio-ecological effects and risks of agro-industrialization are Nutrition systems through scientific findings are widely known.
Being able to feed the world

Debates about the future of our food systems still revolve around the question:
Is it possible for sustainable, organic farming, agroecology or other alternative practices of ecologically sound agriculture to feed the world? This question falsely suggests that the prevailing agro-industrial agriculture feeds the world, when in reality it mainly produces fuel, feed and other non-food products. The prevailing idea that agro-industrial food systems feed the world and solve ecological problems through intensification does not reflect the current state of agroecological and sustainable food science. Rather, it is an expression of power asymmetries in the shaping of policy, technological development and land-dependent investments.

Amartya Sen showed 40 years ago that hunger is less a problem of agricultural productivity than of inequality and poverty. The majority of the world’s food supply is produced by small family farms. While industrial agriculture has significantly reduced the number of family farms, the decline in family farms is associated with environmental degradation, partly due to the ongoing homogenization, mechanization and large-scale land use of the agricultural landscape. For all these reasons, agroecology is a political approach that challenges the power asymmetries and associated food system structures that perpetuate agro-industrial agriculture producing for anonymous international, profit-driven markets, rather than supporting peasant agriculture, cooperatives and associations through fair prices and marketing conditions. Without a more direct involvement of family farms, artisanal processorsand like-minded consumers, the urgent demand for more agroecology will not be met. Furthermore, without significant support for agroecological transition, the current trend of increasing food insecurity, hunger and economic inequalities will continue, and financial resources will continue to flow to large agri-food corporations such as Cargill, which generated a net income of over five billion US dollars from grain trading in 2021. In the same year, the number of hungry people rose to over 800 million. This is why agroecological movements are calling for bottom-up political change to ensure that the right to food is respected, protected and fulfilled.

“The results show that agroecology not only a scientific concept and a scientific method, but also under complex field conditions works well.”
“Paradigms of the ‘green Revolution’ remain predominant, even in times when which the socio-ecological Effects and risks of agro-industrial food systems through scientific Findings are widely known.”
Agroecology works

The two main priorities of the Sufosec Alliance are consistent with this overall picture:
It is necessary, 1) improve sustainable food systems through agroecological practices and 2) Empower communities to more actively manage the food systems on which they depend. This approach combines elements of the productive base (addressed by agroecological technologies) with the broader socio-political base (empowering individuals and communities) with the issue of food security. The technologies examined in the study come from four areas of agroecological practice: reduction of inputs, improvement of biodiversity, promotion of soil health and synergies with animal husbandry. The study shows – once again – that agroecology works in practice. In addition, the study also shows that agroecology not only improves soils and crops, but also food security. This finding is consistent with a large number of scientific case studies and concrete examples that show such benefits in different contexts and under different conditions.

Specifically, the Sufosec Alliance study found that larger households and households headed by a single woman are more likely to be affected by severe food insecurity. In line with the FAO, this indicates that hunger and malnutrition are female and young. However, the data also gives cause for hope: those farmers who used agroecological technologies to reduce inputs, soil health and biodiversity had a lower risk of suffering from food insecurity; moreover, the longer agroecological practices are used, the lower the risk of suffering from food insecurity. The use of organic fertilizers, efficient irrigation and soil conservation methods were particularly effective in reducing hunger. The inclusion of livestock farming in the livelihood did not have any similarly positive effects. This is not surprising given the contrary results of 55 case studies conducted by Bezner Kerr et al. (2021) are rather surprising and therefore require further investigation. However, the studies agree on the cumulative effect of agroecological practices: the reduction in food insecurity was strongest when at least three types of practices were applied.

However, a known effect was also found in this study: When families suffered from severe food insecurity (i.e. the household ran out of food, the respondent was hungry but did not eat, or had not eaten for an entire day), agroecology did not have the same positive impact. This result is a reminder that the agroecological transition cannot be shouldered by vulnerable households alone. The need for emergency aid goes hand in hand with the need for active support in overcoming severe existential and production crises, e.g. caused by COVID-19, related political measures, inadequacies in supply chains, speculation or wars. The promotion of agroecological practices on the ground must be supported by policy measures that can change the reasons for the predominance of agro-industrial food systems. According to IPES, the most important recommendations are 1) Financial support and debt relief for vulnerable countries; 2) Preventing speculation with food; 3) Support for regional grain reserves and a global emergency aid system; 4) Diversification of production and trading systems; 5) Building resilience and reducing dependencies through agroecology. Priority should be given to implementing the rights of small farmers and family businesses. These rights were established by the majority of nations in the 2018 United Nations UNDROP Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas. This means that agroecology must not only be implemented at a local level, but also requires a broad social reorientation that supports peasant agriculture with ecologically sound methods based on agroecological principles.

Results from practice
The contribution of Allianz Sufosec - Local food systems and agroecology
The agroecological transition model according to Gliessmann (2016) and the FAO (2018) describes an accompanied, deliberately step-by-step planned transition to fair and sustainable food systems that is based on fundamental agroecological principles (Figures 9a, 9b, 15). The agroecological practices observed by Sufosec are concentrated in stages 2 to 3, making it clear that further progress in spreading agroecological practices and reshaping livelihoods depends more on strengthening the links between producers, traders, processors, retailers and consumers. Only on the basis of such bottom-up, deliberative and associative food networks is a democratic transition to just food systems possible. Agroecological transitions are deeply rooted in organic fertilization, agroforestry, intercropping or controlled grazing, but they need to go beyond agricultural practices. Against the background of the agroecological transition summarized above, the efforts of Sufosec are of great importance: the results come from practice, not from scientific or political models in different regions. The data show that agroecology is able to have a positive impact on food security and the participation of farmers in the design of food systems in different socio-ecological contexts according to their own values of justice, solidarity and deliberative democracy. The results also suggest that the close cooperation of independent farmers’ organizations with NGOs and local organizations of democratically accountable governments can play an important role in linking the five levels of the agroecological transition, as shown in Figure 15. The fact that the positive results are geographically widespread, but not very pronounced, reminds us that these successes have come about not because of, but in spite of research and agricultural and food policies that have been going in the opposite direction for decades, and that the review and reorientation towards agroecological principles is an urgent task. Questions of social inequality and justice are core elements of agroecology. Bezner Kerr et al. (2022) found in their review of 240 studies on agroecology that there is evidence of the impact of self-organization on autonomy from firms and extension services that promote unsustainable farming practices. The use of agroecological methods has been shown to increase resilience to shocks and stress. Social safety nets in and around communities complement structurally diverse landscapes, illustrating why agroecological principles are ecologically as well as socially and economically oriented. In addition, the agroecological transformation needs the support of an emancipatory and transdisciplinary science based on different forms of knowledge, as well as a social movement committed to political change in order to respect human rights and, in particular, the right to food. Ultimately, a change in cultivation systems must also include the restructuring of the global food system on the basis of the principles of food democracy and food justice. This also means that excessive consumption (including advertising), oligopolistic market structures and public-private research and technology partnerships must be addressed, as they undermine genuine and comprehensive participation by those affected.
“The promotion agroecological practices on the ground must be supported by political Measures supported the reasons for supremacy agro-industrialist Food systems can change.”
“Agroecology must not only on the local level can be implemented, but it requires a Broad social Realignment.”
“The successes of Sufosec are not because of, but despite the prevailing Research, agricultural and Food policy came about.”
“At the end of the day a conversion of the Mounting systems also the restructuring of the global Food system on the basis of the principles of Food democracy and justice include.”