Improving food systems through agroecology

Today, food systems are at a turning point. 

On one hand, access to sufficient, healthy food is often a struggle. On the other, food systems are often tied to unsustainable environmental and climate practices.

In this challenging scenario, the way we use our lands and grow our food needs to change towards more resilient, sustainable, and inclusive practices.

A growing number of scientists, policymakers, and civil society see agroecology as the most viable and efficient solution towards achieving this ambition. 

At the Alliance, we agree with this assessment. Together with our partners, we are identifying and scaling effective interventions to catalyze an uptake of agroecology, at both farm and food system levels.

What is agroecology?

Agroecology is an approach to farming and food system management 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 a number of 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. 

Through policy interventions, socio-technical innovations, development of alternative business models compatible, participatory research, and grassroots networks, the Alliance is unlocking the full potential of agroecology, and through that radically changing local and global food systems. 

 

How we are leading the way forward on agroecology

Our transdisciplinary, participatory and action-oriented approach to the transformation of food systems leverages the potential of agroecology to address the critical planetary boundaries of climate, biodiversity, soil and water pollution (excessive nitrogen), and oceans.  

Further, the Alliance has decades of experience working on specific aspects of agroecology. 

Today, with the support of various partners and local stakeholders, we are co-producing evidence on the positive changes this practice can unlock.

With research conducted at the farm and landscape level, as well as with the development of decision-making tools that can be used by farmers and policymakers, our work on agroecology also focuses on agrobiodiversity conservation and use for increased farm and landscape diversification and resilience; on gender and youth inclusion and empowerment; and on the development of lean, efficient and easy-to-implement climate change adaptation and mitigation measures.


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