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?


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 ‘Agroecological Living Landscapes’ in seven target countries: Burkina Faso, India, Kenya, Lao PDR, Peru, Tunisia, Zimbabwe.

Learn more about the CGIAR initiative on Agroecology

More information

For more information please contact:

Simone StaigerNadia Bergamini or Sarah Jones

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

Explore the Alliance Agroecology Nexus

Further reading

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Agroecology projects with the Alliance Alliance project coordinator  Funder Duration Partners Countries Production systems wheat  Level of engagement  Below Project objectives/Work packages Link

Agroecological TRANSITIONS – PSii

Jonathan Mockshell EU/IFAD 2022-2025 Transformative Partnerships Platform (TPP) Agroecology; 
HealthyFoods Africa; 
Sustainable Amazonian businesses; Sustainable Rice Platform
Landscapes, Food Systems To enable agroecological transitions through the development and adoption of holistic metrics for food and agricultural systems performance, inclusive digital tools and transparent private sector engagement

1. Improving private and private-public sector incentive models to support agroecological transitions for farmers and consumers. 

2. Increasing transparency and traceability in supply chains on agroecological metrics and principles. 

3. Enhancing the capacity of local institutions for engaging in private-public finance models, assessments and policies that support agroecological transitions.

Private Sector Incentives and Investments (PSii) for Climate change, resilience and environmental sustainability
University of Galway/ EcoFoodSystems  Steven Prager EU/IFAD 2022-2025 NUI Galway
The Alliance
Rikolto (Belgian NGO)
Wageningen University & Research (WUR)


Multiple City regional food systems  Develop a systems-based approach for agroecological transitions of food systems for improved health and nutrition, with corresponding decision-support tools and multi-stakeholder platforms to facilitate coordinated, landscape-scale transitions to navigate associated benefits and tradeoffs for both rural and urban communities within city region food systems

1. Develop a systems and evidence-based approach for priority-setting and targeting of landscape, value chain, community and farm scale agroecological intensification interventions/innovations that enable socially-inclusive food system and nutrition transformations. 

2. Co-create scaling strategies for agroecological innovations to enable City-Regional food systems transitions that improve sustainability, nutritional security and climate resilience in each country with relevant stakeholders

OneCG Transformative Agroecology Initiative Marcela Quintero CGIAR 2022-2024 Biovision
Agroecology TPP
Bio-Hub Trust
Asociacion para el Desarollo del programa Biocacao
L’Institut de l’Olivier
Burkina Faso
Lao PDR​
Multiple, including mixed crop-livestock, rice, home gardens, coffee and cocoa Agroecological Living Labs (ALLs) Contextually relevant agroecological principles applied by farmers and communities across a wide range of contexts and supported by other food system actors by 2024 Work package 1: Transdisciplinary co-creation of innovations in Agroecological Living Labs (ALLs) 
Work package 2: Evidence-based agroecology assessments 
Work package 3: Inclusive business models and financing strategies
Work package 4: Strengthening the policy- and institutional-enabling environment
Work package 5: Understanding and influencing agency and behavior change
Transformative Partnership Platform (TPP) - Agroecology Viability Marcela Quintero Government of France 2021-2023 CGIAR
Africa Multiple, focusing on smallholder production systems Field to farm and household scales  The overall objective of this call is to better understand the socio-economic viability of 
agroecological practices and their livelihood system impacts across environmental and 
demographic gradients in Africa
To conduct a holistic evaluation including:
1. Quantitative and qualitative assessment of the labour required by agroecological practices.
2.  Income (including returns to labour) and food security outcomes for households with contrasted access to: income sources (non-farm and off-farm), markets and policy 
3. Intra household levers and lock-ins (in terms of access to knowledge, land tenure, gender, risk aversion, religion and age equity).
4. The economic value of ecosystem services and disservices relevant to the location of the case studies
France and CGIAR transformative partnership platform to foster the agroecological transition
Agroecological Regenerative Cocoa (ARC) Yovita Ivanova French Facility for Global Environment 2021-2025 The Alliance
Conservation International
French chocolate company
Farmers' organizations
Peru Colombia Ecuador Cocoa Agroforestry Landscape to farm level The project aims to contribute to the creation of sustainable cocoa systems that provide livelihoods for farmers, conserve forests and create – through land restoration, rehabilitation and transformation – 600 hectares of cacao farms in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

1. To develop an integrated farming vision, through agroforestry cocoa farming systems (SAF), which includes production aspects as much as production, soil restoration or landscape conservation;

2. To strengthen the infrastructure and skills of producers and their organizations throughout the cocoa value chain, from production to final commercialization;

3. To create and implement instruments for impact analysis and monitoring of productive landscapes in the project's area of influence through community governance;

4. To capitalize on experiences and lessons learned on sustainable agricultural practices and the conservation of biodiversity and forest ecosystems

Business researchers, farmers NGOs and governments team up for sustainable cacao in South America
Agroecological TRANSITIONS Inclusive Digital Tools (ATDT) Lini Wollenberg EU/ IFAD 2022 - 2024



Transformative Partnerships Platform (TPP) 





Farmers to food systems  To support more inclusive digital tools for farmer technical advisors and performance assessment to enable climate-informed agroecological transitions at scale for rice systems in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam and livestock landscapes in Pará and Mato Grosso States, Brazil, with lessons for major tools globally and the potential to reach at least one million farmers by 2024. 1. Understand the role of digital tools in inclusive knowledge development for achieving climate-informed agroecology at large scales
2. Improve inclusive knowledge development in digital tools for technical advisories and farm performance assessment 
3. Demonstrate the benefits that farmers can derive from using improved digital tools and their potential to generate large-scale impacts for climate-informed agroecology.