Journal Article

Agroecology can promote climate change adaptation outcomes without compromising yield in smallholder systems

A critical question is whether agroecology can promote climate change mitigation and adaptation outcomes without compromising food security. We assessed the outcomes of smallholder agricultural systems and practices in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) against 35 mitigation, adaptation, and yield indicators by reviewing 50 articles with 77 cases of agroecological treatments relative to a baseline of conventional practices. Crop yields were higher for 63% of cases reporting yields. Crop diversity, income diversity, net income, reduced income variability, nutrient regulation, and reduced pest infestation, indicators of adaptative capacity, were associated with 70% or more of cases. Limited information on climate change mitigation, such as greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sequestration impacts, was available. Overall, the evidence indicates that use of organic nutrient sources, diversifying systems with legumes and integrated pest management lead to climate change adaptation in multiple contexts. Landscape mosaics, biological control (e.g., enhancement of beneficial organisms) and field sanitation measures do not yet have sufficient evidence based on this review. Widespread adoption of agroecological practices and system transformations shows promise to contribute to climate change services and food security in LMICs. Gaps in adaptation and mitigation strategies and areas for policy and research interventions are finally discussed.