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Agroecology: A Grassroots Solution for Global Impact

Started by: IDEX


Agroecology: A Grassroots Solution for Global Impact

International Development Exchange (IDEX), Grassroots International (GRI), the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) and Focus on the Global South have been awarded a grant for promoting agroecology from the multi-donor International Fund to Amplify Agro-Ecological Solutions. The grant will allow these organizations to support the work of grantee partners in Asia, Africa and Latin America, to advocate for supportive policies in the U.S. and internationally, and to raise awareness of agroecology’s potential.

IDEX will support the agroecology-centered work of social benefit organizations DESMI in Mexico, Biowatch in South Africa and ASHA in Nepal. GRI will support their partners MCP (Popular Peasant Organization) in Brazil, UNOSJO (Union of Organizations of the Sierra Juarez of Oaxaca) in Mexico, and the Tamil Nadu Women's Collective in India. IATP and Focus will focus on advocating for policies in the U.S. and abroad, respectively, that recognize the importance and encourage the spread of agroecology.

What is Agroecology?

Agroecology integrates scientific understanding about how particular places work – their ecology – with farmers’ knowledge of how to make their local landscapes useful to humans. It builds upon the traditional knowledge of family-based farmers and encompasses basic ecological principles for planning and managing sustainable agricultural systems. Agroecology links ecology, agronomy, culture, economics and society to create healthy environments, food production and communities—supporting food sovereignty.

As a science, agroecology is the application of ecological science to the study, design and management of sustainable agro-ecosystems. As a set of agricultural practices, agroecology seeks ways to enhance agricultural systems by mimicking natural processes, thus creating beneficial biological interactions and synergies between the components of the agro-ecosystem. It provides the most favorable soil conditions for plant growth, particularly by managing organic matter and by raising soil biotic activity.

Reasons for working in this topic, project or business:

IDEX exists to connect a passionate network of supporters to the best ideas and solutions of grassroots leaders in the Global South. Agroecology is one such solution to a multitude of problems: it holistically addresses women's empowerment, growing local economies and climate justice. These are the three main themes that have guided IDEX's work with our grassroots partners for nearly three decades.

Agroecology is a social process to enable small-scale farmers and farm workers/ farm dwellers to take control of their natural resources and manage their environment in a sustainable way, leading to food sovereignty. It is viewed as an emancipatory political project based on social and economic justice, and rooted in ecologically sound practice.

Agroecology also encourages us to think about our own relationship to land, our relationship to the ecosystem and our relationship with other people. This reflection is ongoing so that agroecology is not a result, but a continual process of learning, adapting and teaching ourselves and others.

Root causes of the problems in this field and main barriers:

Big Agribusiness, multinational agencies and even well-intentioned philanthropists have pushed for "Green Revolutions" that involve chemical-intensive, petroleum-based models of agriculture to "feed the world". Despite the fact that small-scale farmers already grow 70% of the world's food, these powerful forces are trying to create systems of dependencies on their unsustainable products - from GMO seeds to synthetic pesticides. Rather than restoring and integrating with ecological systems, as agroecology does, these industrial agriculture techniques deplete the environment and have a large ecological footprint.  

What is needed to overcome barriers to implement solutions:

Resisting the power of multinational corporations pushing false solutions such as synthetic pesticides, GMO seds and petrochemical fertilizers.

Training of farmers in agroecological practices that build independence, provide livelihoods and create food sovereignty.

Specific needs and/or support requests:

Raising the awareness of agroecology in the Global North so that the promise of this incredibly effective solution to climate change can be understood through the clamor of huge multinationl corporations.

Focus resources on those groups that are succesfully implementing agroecology in the Global South and build programs to spread agroecological practices to wider communities.

Suggested best local solution for this topic:

IDEX has recently teamed up with partners to host regional Agroecology Learning Exchanges in Asia, Africa and Mesoamerica, bringing together community-based groups that work with tens of thousands of people to learn how to implement and spread agroecology. Reports from these exchanges can be found on our blog.

Research by La Via Campesina, Professor Miguel Altieri, along with promotion of agroecology from Global North actors, like the Christensen Fund and Food Mythbusters has helped show that this is a viable, promising solution to creating equitable, productive, and sustainable systems of agriculture.

Networking opportunities:

This project offers the chance to join with the best and brightest leaders from the global South and North who are reaching towards climate justice and food sovereignty while building local economies, feeding families and protecting the planet. Join in!


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