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Opinion: Environment

Agroecology in Action

Farming First Farming First

Addressing the challenges facing our global food system – from rising demand to rising temperatures – requires concerted action from across the agricultural sector and its value chain.

Agroecology has returned to the global spotlight, as one approach to bring farmers closer to meeting these challenges. Agroecology emerged as a science which supports food security and sustainable agriculture. In the 1960s, it was studied as the interaction between crops and the environment. In short, it can help us understand agriculture’s impact on our natural resource base.

Since then, many definitions of agroecology have evolved. Promoting farming systems that are beneficial to producers and society, as well as the earth’s ecosystems has become a central theme, prompting the concept of agroecology to become synonymous with outcomes such as resource use efficiency, optimizing external inputs and improving soil health.

Farming First’s supporters from around the world are working to incorporate agroecology with innovation hand in hand to achieve these outcomes. By using agroecology as a scientific and analytical tool to gauge agriculture’s impacts on economic, ecological and social dimensions, we can help farmers make good decisions towards sustainability and productivity, for people and the planet.

In this collection of essays from Farming First supporters and external experts, we explore
what agroecology looks like for farmers across the globe. How can technology and innovation
support farmers? How can we balance the need to produce food for an ever-growing population
with the need to protect the planet? How can we put farmers at the heart of our decisionmaking?

From tackling pests in Africa, to improving soil health in Latin America, these essays demonstrate the role innovation can play in achieving agroecological outcomes, that will bring us closer to meeting the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals.

Join us, as we take a look at agroecology in action.

Forest-friendly farming in Ethiopia

Nicolas Mounard, CEO of Farm Africa, urges action to rescue the ailing voluntary carbon market that forest communities in Ethiopia are counting on. Read the blog >>

Harnessing Nature for Improved Ecological Resilience

What is agroecology? How can farmers be encouraged to adopt  agroecological principles? Professor Tim Benton,  Leeds University and former UK Global Food Security Champion answers these questions. Read the blog >>

Keeping Pests at Bay in the Safest Way

Agroecology is all about helping farmers to be good environmental stewards. Claire Starkey, President of Fintrac speaks about how her Farming First how her team works with farmers to create maximum pest resistance with minimal environmental impact using Integrated Pest Management.  Read the blog >>

Harnessing the Power of Orphan Crops

Africa has thus far missed out on having its own ‘green revolution’. Howard-Yana Shapiro, Chief Agricultural Officer of Mars, looks at why this is the case and how any approach to boost productivity and food security must fit Africa’s myriad, small and distinct ecosystems. Read the blog >> 

Building Healthier Soils and a Healthier Planet

Fertile and productive soils are vital components of stable societies. Dr.J. Scott Angle, President and CEO of IFDC, discusses how the agroecological approach of Integrated Soil Fertility Management can build healthier soils and a healthier planet. Read the blog >>

Promoting Balance and Complementarity in Global Agriculture

Where in the world are agroecological approaches building soil health, beating pests and helping farmers stay productive while protecting the planet? Professor Pedro Sanchez, University of Florida, continues our “Agroecology in Action” series with this guest post. Read the blog >>

Science-Based, Smarter Farming for Africa

Farming has become more information and knowledge intensive and data-driven. Ishmael Sunga, CEO of Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU) talks to Farming first on how improving African farmers’ access information and technology can help them overcome climate-related shocks to their livelihoods. Read the blog >>

Investing in Technology Transfer to Ensure No Farmer is Left Behind

From the Ivory Coast to Austria, farmers are putting innovations to use that contribute to both productivity and sustainability. Making technologies financially viable for farmers will be critical to achieving sustainable development, explains Arianna Giulodori, Secretary General of the World Farmers’ Organization. Read the blog>>

Using Innovation as a Pathway to Sustainability 

Can innovation and agroecology work together to improve food security and sustainability? Chair of theInternational Agri-Food Network, Robynne Anderson, thinks so. Read the blog >>

Conserving Africa’s Precious Resource Base While Fighting Hunger

Kalongo Chitengi, Zambia Country Director of Self Help Africa, discusses the innovations farmers in her region are putting to use – from conservation farming to improved seed. Read the blog >>

Agroecology According to Generation Y

As the incoming custodians of the land, young farmers tell Farming First about the importance of practising agroecology to benefit today’s generation and those to come. Read the blog >>


Download the “Agroecology in Action” PDF

Featured photo credit: Adam Ojdahl / IWMI

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