Stories tagged: agroecology

Using Innovation as a Pathway to Sustainability

As part of our “Agroecology in Action” series, Robynne Anderson, Chair of the International Agri-Food Network (IAFN) focuses on how we can use agroecology to protect vital ecosystems and achieve zero hunger.

Fifty years ago, agroecology emerged as a discipline focused on studying the interaction between crops and the environment. Over the decades, it has helped increase our understanding of agriculture’s environmental impact.

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Agroecology in Action

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 the 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. [Coming soon]

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. [Coming soon]

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. [Coming soon]

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 >>


Featured photo credit: Adam Ojdahl / IWMI

Investing in Technology Transfer to Ensure no Farmer is Left Behind

As part of our agroecology in action series, Arianna Giuliodori, Secretary General of the World Farmers’ Organization talks to Farming First about how technologies and innovations should be made more widely available for farmers. 

Farming lies at the heart of many of the world’s most urgent challenges. The farming sector will therefore play a key role in defining the path for future sustainable solutions.

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CFS Side Event: The Future of Farming

17th October 2018

Rome, Italy

As the FAO’s Committee on World Food Security (CFS) gears up for the high-level panel of experts report on Agroecology and Other Innovations, Farming First will be co-hosting a side event that will highlight some of the best examples of innovations to advance agroecological outcomes in areas the UN is calling for including: recycling, resource use efficiency, reducing external inputs, diversification, integration, and soil health.

Speakers will discuss solutions that are applicable to farms of all sizes and regions, and identify ways to design sustainable farming systems that respect and benefit from the interactions between plants, animals, humans and the environment.

When: Wednesday, October 17, 13:00 to 14:30
Where: Philippines Room, FAO, Rome


Otmane Bennani Smires, OCP Group
H.E Maria Cristina Boldorini, Moderator
Craige Mackenzie, Global Farmer Network
Nancy Muchiri, African Agricultural Technology Foundation                                                                  Wade Barnes, Farmers Edge
Arianna Giuliodori, World Farmers’ Organisation
Chris Noble, Noble Farms
Rick White, Canadian Canola Growers Association

Follow the debate on Twitter #FutureOfFarming #CFS45 @farmingfirst

Science-Based, Smarter Farming for Africa

As part of Farming First’s agroecology in action series, Ishmael Sunga, CEO of SACAU writes about the importance of using data to mitigate the effects of climate change on agriculture

African farmers, the majority of whom are smallholders, face myriad challenges.

These challenges are related to the entire cycle of farming, from pre-investment and production to post-production and marketing. They result in low volumes, low productivity, low quality products, and high post-harvest losses. Typically, farmers operate in a high-risk-low-return environment.

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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.

With agricultural needs and challenges varying greatly around the world, farming has always needed to be adaptive and agile.

And with a changing climate bringing extreme weather and conditions, it’s more important than ever to work with nature and farm in a way that fulfils each ecosystem’s potential to feed an ever growing population.

Young farmers especially are realising the benefits of incorporating ecological processes into their agricultural systems.

“From my personal experience, we know that if we look after our farm, our livestock, the environment, we will produce better crops,” Richard Bower, a cereals farmer from Staffordshire, UK, told Farming First. “The environment is a very big part of what we do on the farm, and we are only looking after the farm for a short period of time for the next generation as well.”

One way Richard is practicing agroecology on his farm is to consider wildlife.

“Crop rotation is very important and allows birds to nest,” he added. “Something else we do on our farm is welcome bird ringers, who are very passionate about the environment and they come and count the birds on the farm. They are also using technology so they will go in the night and count the number of birds on the farm.”

In sub-Saharan Africa, where the effects of global warming hit hardest, producing more extreme temperatures, one result has been the increase of crop-eating pests such as Fall Armyworm.

Innocent Jumbe, 28, who works for a seed company in Malawi, said an agroecological approach  can involve the responsible use of crop protection products.

“With climate change, all these pests coming in has been a real problem in Africa in the last year and we have been told by the government that we need to brace for impact,” Innocent said. “It’s not just about how we use chemicals but also about how we dispose of the chemicals.

“The blanket picture is that climate change is the biggest change, but we can see that people are not changing their lifestyles. We need to try to change the way that people look at things.”

Meanwhile, in Argentina, agroecology is a way to successfully support people, livestock and the environment in one ecosystem.

“Agroecology is about knowing how to work in the farm,” said Augustina Diaz Valdez, 22, a sheep farmer who is also training to be a vet. “This means knowing up to what limit you can produce and take advantage, always thinking about the environment and being sustainable.”

Dennis Kabiito, 34, a livestock and crop farmer in Uganda, agreed: “As farmers, we are stewards of the land and of the environment. It’s [about] using the right practices and the right methods at the given time.

“For example with Fall Armyworm and African swine flu – this cannot easily be controlled by organic practices but they can contribute. You need some help from chemicals.”

In South Africa, agroecology is about balancing productivity with sustainability.

“It’s about finding the right balances in terms of practices. For me, it’s about the foundation for establishing these practices,” said Brenda Tlhabane, a 37 year old farmer from South Africa.

“At the end [of the day], we are the consumers of nature so we need to do it in a sustainable manner and make sure that we leave a legacy.

“As a young person, I need to be profitable and make sure that I am preserving the environment and planet as a whole. I would want our policy makers to look at the overall approach and think how do we become sustainable in terms of soil health and making sure that we preserve good quality soils as well?”