New report roots for agroecology in building food, climate resilience

A farmer on a millet plantation in Senegal. Photo Credit: Agrecol Afrique/ Groundswell International

By Marion Wagaki

[rt_dropcap_style dropcap_letter=”A” dropcap_content=”NEW report released by the Global Alliance for the Future of Food shows that agroecology can help build sustainable food systems and repair the relationship between people and nature, restoring biodiversity in Africa.”]

The report, highlighting the successes of agroecology in Kenya, Senegal and Uganda, seeks to demonstrate how agroecology, regenerative agricultural practices and indigenous food ways are transforming the food systems of Africa and the world.
However, the authors argue that evidence biases and narrow thinking hold back food security and climate action. The report, “The Politics of Knowledge:

Will we act on the evidence for agroecology, regenerative approaches, and indigenous food ways?”, asserts that the industrialised food system is one of the greatest stressors to the health of the planet, causing 80% of biodiversity loss and generating almost a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions.

It shows that the world needs to change ways on how to produce, distribute, consume and dispose food

that will eventually see the reduction the greenhouse emissions. Taking a food systems approach builds climate resilience and results in a diversity of context-specific solutions for food production, distribution, consumption, and waste.

With food systems rarely prioritized in climate policies, the authors of the report presents different types of evidence – such as lived experiences, traditional knowledge, scientific analysis, oral histories, and peer-reviewed articles – to show how together they can support the performance, scaling-up and economic viability of agroecology.

In their findings, the authors found traditional agricultural indicators such as yield per hectare or scalability being insufficient to prove the virtuous capacity of agroecology to feed and nourish humanity.

This is through sustainable food systems based on equity, justice and reciprocity, not just large-scale food production according to the report. They also noted that agricultural biodiversity is, a centrepiece of agroecology, regenerative approaches, and Indigenous food ways, and this diversity is strongly linked to health and nutrition.

ENDA Pronat in Senegal stated that farmers participating in their programs show that agroecology can be as productive as conventional agriculture once soil fertility is restored.

Research changing, education and innovation systems, especially shortterm approaches, the prioritization of “cheap” food and the design of measures that are insufficient due to their narrow focus are also some of the key elements toward transformation of food systems according to the report.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Lauren Baker, Senior Director of Programs at the Global Alliance for the Future of Food, said that agroecology, regenerative approaches, and Indigenous food ways are systemic solutions that are already delivering positive health and nutrition outcomes, a sense of purpose and dignity, social justice and climate action, across Africa and for millions of people worldwide.

A recent study of the Soil, Food and Healthy Communities (SFHC) program in Malawi concluded that the agro ecological practices used by farmers have increased household food security and nutrition. “With this new material in hand, donors and researchers alike will be able to leverage the transformative power of agroecology, Indigenous and regenerative practices and accelerate change at a time when it is needed more than ever.

” The report further suggests there is a unique opportunity for public and private donors and funders to collaborate and promote an independent multidisciplinary research and action program, focused on political and social justice and food sovereignty. Additionally revaluing cultural and ecological knowledge enhances community well-being as it is the case in Kenya where pastoral systems are regenerating grassland with the government securing customary land tenure rights to enhance sustainable natural resource management.

Seventy authors from 17 teams and 15 countries participated in the preparation of the report led by the Global Alliance for the Future of Food which is a strategic alliance of philanthropic foundations working together and with others to transform the world’s food systems today and for future generations.

The teams and countries that participated represented the geographic, institutional, sectoral, gender and racial diversity of the planet. They include organizations and networks of practitioners, researchers, farmers and food providers, indigenous peoples and foundations working in the food systems sector at national and international levels.

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