Improving food systems through agroecology

What is agroecology?

Agroecology is a framework for farming and food system transformation that benefits people and nature.

At the farm level, agroecology means redesigning production systems to enhance further collaboration with nature. This is done by integrating biodiversity and ecological processes in food production; reducing external inputs; and introducing renewable or natural alternatives.  

Practices that contribute towards creating agroecological farms include: 

  • crop-rotation; 
  • intercropping; 
  • varietal mixtures; 
  • organic fertilization; 
  • biological control of pests; 
  • integration of natural elements into or around agricultural fields; 
  • reduced or no-tillage to improve soil health; 
  • use of cover crops, green manure, agroforestry, and other diversified practices.

At the food system level, agroecology ensures the delivery of healthy, nutritious, affordable food through key interventions, including: 

  • improved connectivity between farmers and consumers with shorter supply chains; 
  • diversification of production systems and markets; 
  • increased fairness participation, particularly of smallholder farmers, indigenous people, and women.

Alliance approach to agroecology

Through policy interventions, socio-technical innovations, development of alternative business models compatible, participatory research, and grassroots networks, the Alliance seeks to unlock the full potential of agroecology, and through that transform local and global food systems to meet multiple sustainability objectives.  

The Alliance has decades of experience working on specific aspects of agroecology including agrobiodiversity, agroforestry, soil health, water management, landscape approaches, eco-nutrition, climate mitigation, incentive mechanisms, participatory approaches, gender and youth inclusion and empowerment, human wellbeing outcomes and more recently in food safety issues. We seek to consolidate and build on this experience and existing scientific evidence to position the Alliance as a global leader in co-producing, with local stakeholders, evidence on the outcomes of adoption of agroecological approaches and on how to make the leap to agroecology at farm, landscape and national levels. 

We conduct research at the farm, landscape, regional and global level, using a systems approach that incorporates expertise and methodologies from multiple disciplines. We develop, use and provide training on decision-making tools for use by farmers and policymakers to help make the transition towards agroecology.  

Our major research questions include: 

  1. What agricultural practices, business models and institutional arrangements deliver the best social, economic and environmental food system outcomes?  
  2. What are the barriers, drivers (including preferences), and opportunities for farmers to adopt agroecological innovations vs. conventional agricultural food system innovations?  
  3. Who are the key value chain actors relevant to supporting agroecological innovations?  
  4. What are the costs and benefits of agroecological transitions, including the risks and opportunities they pose to women, men, and young farmers?

Publications

Contributing levers

Alliance research on agroecology brings together different expertise from across multiple levers we have at the Alliance, including:

Connection to the OneCGIAR

The Alliance is leading a 10-year multi-million-dollar investment to scale agroecology through evidence-based interventions at farm and food system level designed by and with networks of local partners. The networks will bring together farmers, researchers, policymakers, non-governmental organisations and businesses into ‘Agroecology Living Labs’ in seven target countries: Burkina Faso, India, Kenya, Lao PDR, Peru, Tunisia, Zimbabwe.

More information

For more information please contact:

Nadia Bergamini or Sarah Jones

Internal members of staff at the Alliance can click the button to explore seminars and the Alliance agroecology nexus. 

Explore the Alliance Agroecology Nexus