The Promise of Agroecology
By Andrew Kang Bartlett, Associate for National Hunger Concerns, Presbyterian Hunger Program

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World Food Day 2012

ACTIVITIES & EVENTS
From Presbyterian Hunger Program’s Joining Hands Program, US Food Sovereignty Alliance,  and Other Events Related to World Food Day
Go to the US Food Sovereignty Alliance Food Week of Action page

or

Download a PDF of the Activities to read, print or share via email

 

Christian alliance calls for investment in agroecology to end hunger and build resilient communities

The Presbyterian Church USA partners with the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA), which just released a paper calling for increased investment in sustainable agricultural practices that support small-scale farmers and local communities, and also benefit the environment.

“Nourishing the World: Scaling up Agroecology” presents numerous examples of the successful use of agroecological methods in increasing yields for farmers using locally-available natural resources while lowering or eliminating farmers’ reliance on costly and polluting chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Global figures on hunger released today by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme emphasize the urgency of investing in effective policies and practices to feed the world. Nearly 870 million people, or 1 in 8, were suffering chronic undernourishment in 2010-2012. According to the report, global progress in reducing hunger has levelled off since 2007-2008, with the number of hungry people rising in Africa and developed regions. More than 1 in 4 people in Africa are chronically hungry.

“Tackling hunger is not in the first instance about producing more food,” says Christine Campeau, EAA’s Food Campaign Coordinator. “It is about investing responsibly in sustainable agricultural practices and changing wasteful consumer habits that will benefit people, communities and the environment now and in the long-term.”

The paper sets out an alternative path to the one currently being promoted by some governmental and private sector initiatives, which is to expand the industrial “green revolution” style of agriculture. While this type of agriculture has certainly increased food production in recent decades, it has also “destabilized the natural resource base and drives much of the loss of biodiversity” as well as contributing - directly and indirectly - to the 30% of total global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) currently generated by the agricultural sector.

“In developed countries, where industrial-scale monocropping is the prevailing agricultural model, it is easy to forget that the majority of the world’s food is produced by smallholder farmers,” states Peter Prove, EAA Executive Director. “The answer to hunger and food insecurity is not turning more of these small farms into huge plantations, which damage both local communities and the environment, but investing in the knowledge-sharing, networking and sustainable practices that have proven to increase yields, protect the natural environment, empower communities, and enhance resilience in the face of a changing climate.”

“It’s all about Christian stewardship of God’s creation, and responding to the needs of people and communities rather than corporations”, stressed Nigussu Legesse, Programme Executive for Africa of World Council of Churches and member of the EAA’s Food Strategy Group.
The paper has been released in advanced of the meeting of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) in Rome, 15-20 October. Civil society representatives who participate in the CFS as part of a Civil Society Mechanism are calling on CFS members to act immediately to help small-scale food producers to adapt to climate change and prevent further dangerous climate change-related impacts on food security. In this context, the EAA is calling for:

* Much greater investment in research on agroecological food production methods, building on traditional knowledge and existing best practice, for the purpose of enhancing smallholder-based, low-emission, high-productivity agriculture in the context of climate change.

* Increased support for the establishment and expansion of farmer-to-farmer networks at local levels throughout the developing world, for the sharing of information and best practices in agroecological food production.

* Enabling policy environments at national and international levels, recognizing the central role of smallholder farmers in global food security and supporting smallholder-based agroecological food production, and agroecological extension programs at national and local levels.

* Increased support for the establishment and expansion of smallholder farmers’ collectives, to improve market opportunities and the collective capacities of smallholder farmers and their communities.

* More effective regulation and management of the negative impacts of corporate influence of agricultural policy and practice.

* More focused and effective attention to reducing food waste throughout the food supply chain.

“Agroecology will be necessary, if we are to find a viable path through the intertwined challenges of future food security, and climate change mitigation and adaptation,” the paper states in its conclusion. “In the context of climate change, business as usual in the field of food production is not an option. Agroecology offers the prospect of sustainable food production to meet the needs of a still growing global population, while at the same time reducing the GHG emissions from the agricultural sector, building resilience to already unavoidable climate change, protecting biodiversity, and sustaining communities and rural livelihoods.”

Nourishing the World: Scaling Up Agorecology is available at: http://tinyurl.com/EAAagroecology2012

 

Andrew Kang Bartlett is Associate for National Hunger Concerns for the Presbyterian Hunger Program.

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