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Agroecology, the Bold Future of Farming in Africa

Michael Farrelly, G. Clare Westwood, Stephen Boustred, 2016

Summary :

In Agroecology, the Bold Future of Farming in Africa, Afsa et Toam introduce a broad collection of agroecological initiatives and put forward recommendations to achieve a sustainable transition in agriculture.

Policy

• Shift public support and subsidies away from industrial agriculture and towards agroecology.

• Create holistic food policies based on nutrition security, climate change resilience, sustainability and agricultural biodiversity.

• Use public procurement policies to support the transition to agroecology; for example, schools, hospitals, and public institutions could offer healthy food grown using agroecological practices.

• Use agroecology to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Food Systems

• Enable farmers to understand the political economy of farming and food, and strengthen farmers’ associations that are advocating the transition towards agroecology.

• Build farmers’ and women’s knowledge and skills in managing small enterprises and marketing.

• Strengthen local markets and marketing channels for local produce and ensure farmers have full access to these.

• Shorten the food chain to enable producers and consumers to gain maximum benefit from direct interaction.

• Stimulate and help community-based enterprises to thrive in the transition towards the new system.

Research

• Support agroecological research in collaboration with farmers to identify and tap the full potential of agroecology, as well as how to overcome the challenges in making the transition.

• Shift the focus of agricultural research away from mere yield/productivity towards holistic agroecological indicators such as nutritional value, ecosystem biodiversity and services, climate change resilience, and farmer innovation.

• Develop farming technologies that support small-scale application and innovation, use local resources in a sustainable manner, respect local cultures, and are low carbon and labour-saving.

• Build upon widespread indigenous and local knowledge systems.

Seeds

• Strengthen and develop farmer managed seed systems, the main source of seeds in Africa.

• Save endangered seeds and improve farmers’ varieties through farmer-centred systems like participatory plant breeding.

• Secure the legal rights of farmers to freely save, share, exchange and sell seeds, and safeguard them from being victimised by laws that protect corporate intellectual property rights and trade in seeds.

Indigenous Knowledge

• Rebuild and strengthen the cultural heritage and indigenous knowledge systems of African peoples.

• Record and recognize indigenous and local knowledge in all learning platforms.

• Strengthen the practice of farmer-to-farmer sharing and learning.

• Make agroecology the foundation of agricultural extension services.

• Introduce agroecology and nutrition into the curriculum at all levels of education from primary to tertiary.

Consumer Awareness

• Raise widespread awareness among consumers about the nutritional and other benefits of agroecology.

• Strengthen consumer associations that advocate a transition towards food sovereignty and agroecology.

• Promote collaboration among policy-makers, farmers, and consumers’ organizations to ensure mass adoption of agroecology. In a world threatened by anthropogenic climate change, environmental degradation, hunger and poverty; in a world committed to ambitious sustainable development goals and to the phasing out of fossil fuels; now is the time to call a halt to life destroying business-as-usual food systems and begin the journey towards life-giving agroecology and food sovereignty.

Let Africa take that bold step now!

(article from Alimenterre

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