Agroecology

By Jeff Kirkpatrick

This is a working post that will be available as resource for publications on or related to agroecology. This list will be updated periodically. Last update: October 20, 2017

“‘Business as usual’ is not an option if we want to achieve environmental sustainability. To help realize this goal, AKST [Agricultural knowledge, science and technology] systems must enhance sustainability while maintaining productivity in ways that protect the natural resource base and ecological provisioning of agricultural systems.” See: “Agriculture at a Crossroads – Synthesis Report,” IAASTD; 2009





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Climate, Agroecology and Socio-Economic Determinants of Food Availability from Agriculture in Bangladesh, (1948–2008),” by Sanzidur Rahman, Sustainability, Vol. 9, No. 3; February 28, 2017 (19 pages). This publication is also HERE in HTML format.

Technological Approaches to Sustainable Agriculture at a Crossroads: An Agroecological Perspective,” by Miguel A. Altieri, Clara I. Nicholls and Rene Montalba, Sustainability, Vol. 9, No. 3; February 27, 2017 (13 pages) This publication can also be found HERE. This publication is also HERE in HTML format.

Political Agroecology in Mexico: A Path toward Sustainability,” by Víctor M. Toledo and Narciso Barrera-Bassols, Sustainability, Vol. 9, Issue 2; February 14, 2017 (13 pages). This publication is also HERE in HTML format.

Addressing the Knowledge Gaps in Agroecology and Identifying Guiding Principles for Transforming Conventional Agri-Food Systems,” by Angelina Sanderson Bellamy and Antonio A. R. Ioris, Sustainability, Vol. 9, No. 3; February 23, 2017 (17 pages). This publication is also HERE in HTML format.

AGROECOLOGY: the bold future of farming in Africa,” edited by Michael Farrelly, G. Clare Westwood and Stephen Boustred, Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) & Tanzania Organic Agriculture Movement (TOAM); February 2017 (88 pages)

Agroecology and Ecological Intensification – A Discussion from a Metabolic Point of View,” by Manuel González de Molina and Gloria I. Guzmán Casado, Sustainability, Vol. 9, No. 1; January 10, 2017 (19 pages). This publication is also HERE in HTML format.

 

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food,” by Hilal Elver, UN’s special rapporteur on the right to food (with Baskut Tuncak); January 24, 2017 (24 pages). This publication can also be found HERE, HERE and HERE.

A summary article is here: “Pesticides are ‘global human rights concern’, say UN experts urging new treaty,” by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); March 7, 2017

Related summary articles are here: “New UN Report: Pesticides Don’t Feed the World,” by Elizabeth Grossman, Civil Eats; March 13, 2017

UN experts denounce myth’ pesticides are necessary to feed the world,” by Damian Carrington, The Guardian; March 7, 2017

United Nations: Agroecology, not Pesticides, is the Future for Food,” by Eva Perroni, Food Tank; March 24, 2017

Amid Trump’s Deregulatory Bonanza, UN Report Details ‘Catastrophic’ Impact of Pesticides,” by Lauren McCauley, Common Dreams; March 7, 2017

This publication is cited in this related article: “The future of agriculture deserves better than Syngenta,” by Corporate Europe Observatory; March 28, 2017

 

Cover Crops as an Agroecological Practice on Organic Vegetable Farms in Wisconsin, USA,” by Erin M. Silva and Virginia M. Moore, Sustainability, Vol. 9, Issue 1; January 1, 2017 (15 pages). This publication is also HERE in HTML format.

 

Agroecology Learning Exchange 2016 (Uganda),” by ILEIA; November 2016 (76 pages)

ILEIA = Centre for Learning on Sustainable Agriculture

A summary article is here:  “The Agroecology Learning Exchange in Uganda,” by ILEIA, May 16 2016 [Embedded Video 3:25]

A related article is here: “How to amplify agroecology,” by Janneke Bruil and Jessica Milgroom, Ileia; September 22, 2016

 

From Uniformity to Diversity – A paradigm shift from industrial agriculture to diversified agroecological systems,” by International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food); June 2016 (96 pages). This publication can also be found HERE.

Also see: “Executive Summary: From Uniformity to Diversity – A paradigm shift from industrial agriculture to diversified agroecological systems,” International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food); June 2016 (16 pages). This publication can also be found HERE.

A related summary article is here: “A Paradigm Shift from Industrial to Agroecological,” by Alexina Cather, Food Tank; June 2, 2016

 

Farming for the Future: Organic and Agroecological Solutions to Feed the World,” by Christopher D. Cook, Kari Hamerschlag & Kendra Klein, PhD., Friends of the Earth; June 2016 (23 pages). This publication can also be found HERE.

Summary Briefing: “Farming for the Future: Organic and Agroecological Solutions to Feed the World,” by Christopher D. Cook, Kari Hamerschlag & Kendra Klein, PhD., Friends of the Earth; October 21, 2016 (6 pages). This summary publication can also be found HERE.

A related summary article is here: “Dirt, Democracy, and Organic Farming: A Recipe to Feed the World,” by Lani Furbank, Food Tank; June 21, 2016

 

Organic Farming & Agro-ecological Approaches: Ready-to-replicate Best Practices from around India,” by Kavitha Kuruganti and Indhubala Kesavan, Knowledge In Civil Society (KICS); March 2016 (42 pages)

Transforming food systems with agroecology,” by Steve Gliessman, Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, Vol, 40, No. 3; January 2016 (3 pages). This publication is also HERE in HTML format.

Peasant Agroecology for Food Sovereignty and Mother Earth, experiences of La via Campesina,” by La via Campesina International Peasant Movement; November 9, 2015 (71 pages)

Agroecology Case Studies,” by the Oakland Institute; November 2015 [Links to 33 case studies about successful agroecological techniques in Africa]

Related Press Release: “The Untold Success Story Agroecology in Africa Addresses Climate Change, Hunger, and Poverty,” by the Oakland Institute; November 19, 2015 (2 pages)

Feeding the People: Agroecology for Nourishing the World and Transforming the Agri-Food System,” by Hans Rudolf Herren, Angelika Hilbeck, Ulrich Hoffmann, Robert Home, Les Levidow, Adrian Muller, Erin Nelson, Bernadette Oehen and Michel Pimbert, IFOAM EU, September 29, 2015 (44 pages). This publication can also be found HERE.

Counting on Agroecology: Why We Should Invest More in the Transition to Sustainable Agriculture,” by the Union of Concerned Scientists; November 2015 (5 pages)

Agroecology Can Help Fix Our Broken Food System. Here’s How,” by Maywa Montenegro, Ensia Magazine; June 17, 2015 (6 pages)

This publication is also here in a slightly different format: “Agroecology Can Help Fix Our Broken Food System. Here’s How,” by Maywa Montenegro, Ensia Magazine; June 17, 2015 (4 pages)

This publication was originally published here in HTML format: “Agroecology can help fix our broken food system. Here’s how,” by Maywa Montenegro, Ensia; June 17, 2015

This HTML format was also published here: “Agroecology Can Help Fix Our Broken Food System. Here’s How,” by Maywa Montenegro, Millennium Alliance for Humanity and Biosphere (MAHB); September 15, 2015

Agroecology: Putting Food Sovereignty into Action,” by WhyHunger, May 14, 2015 (15 pages)

A summary article is here: “Agroecology: putting food sovereignty into action,” by GRAIN; May 15, 2015

A related summary article is here: “Why Hunger Calls for Support of Agroecology and Peasant-Led Solutions,’ by Danielle Nierenberg, Common Dreams; June 14, 2015

International Forum for Agroecology, Nyéléni Center, Sélingué, Mali,” by Nyéléni, International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC); February 24-27; 2015 (36 pages)

A related article is here: “Declaration of the International Forum for Agroecology,” by Nyéléni, International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty; 2015

 

Agroecology: Key Concepts, Principles and Practices,” by the Latin American Scientific Society of Agriculture (SOCLA) and Third World Network; 2015 (54 pages) [SOCLA = Sociedad Cientifica Latinoamericana de Agroecología]. This publication can also be found HERE, and HERE.

A summary article is here: “Agroecology key Concepts, Principles and Practices,” posted by Ana Galvis, Food First; November 3, 2015

Replacing Chemicals with Biology: Phasing out highly hazardous pesticides with agroecology,” by Meriel Watts with Stephanie Williamson; Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific; 2015 (224 pages). This publication can also be found HERE.

Agroecology for Food Security and Nutrition – Proceedings of the FAO International Symposium,” by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, (FAO); September 2014 (426 pages)

Excerpt: Advocates for industrial agriculture argue that the only way to satisfy the food needs of the expanding world population is to continue to develop new agricultural technologies – particularly genetically modified crop varieties – that will increase yields, reduce insect damage and eliminate competition from weeds. They dismiss alternative, traditional, sustainable and ecologically based systems as inadequate to the task of growing the needed amount of food. This view is mistaken on at least two accounts.

First, this view exaggerates the need for increasing yields. Globally, the food system currently produces more than enough food calories to adequately feed every single living human being and more. One problem is that 9 percent of these calories are diverted to make biofuels or other industrial products and another 36 percent are used for animal feed (less than 10 percent of which is recovered in the form of animal-based food calories), leaving only 55 percent to be eaten directly by humans. Another problem is that an estimated one-third of the food produced globally is lost to spoilage, spillage and other problems along the supply chain, or simply wasted at the household level. Further, the calories that are eaten by humans directly and not lost as waste are distributed very unevenly, with many of them going to expand the waistlines of affluent populations. Thus, the need for more food is driven not as much by the increase in population as it is by wasteful patterns of food use and a shift towards richer diets – both of which are social choices. If people ate less animal-based food on average and food was used and distributed more equitably and efficiently, as noted above, more than enough extra food-production capacity would be freed up to feed everyone adequately, leaving a buffer for feeding an expanding population.

Second, this view ignores a growing body of research showing that small-scale, ecologically-based, organic and even traditional peasant systems can approach, match, and even exceed the productivity of industrial systems when measured by the number of people fed per unit of land or the food biomass produced per unit area … These agroecosystems are usually the kinds of diverse, multi-layered and integrated systems that are most common in smallholder, traditional farming systems in the developing world, with a focus on meeting local needs, providing food for the larger communities in which they participate and maintaining the productive capacity of the soil for the long term. The emphasis of these systems is definitely not on monoculture yield maximization, nor the market. A comprehensive 2011 report, presented before the UN Human Rights Council and based on an extensive review of recent scientific literature, showed that agroecologically guided restructuring of agro-ecosystems has the capability of doubling food production in entire regions within ten years, while mitigating climate change and alleviating rural poverty…..

Finally, circumstances demand fundamental changes in the ways that humans relate to food, the economic and social systems that determine the distribution of food, and the ways in which food mediates the relationships of power among populations, classes and countries. Serving this need is the social-change aspect of agroecology, which not only advocates for the changes that will lead to food security for all, but also seeks knowledge of the means by which these changes can be activated and sustained. [Emphasis added, citations omitted]

 “Agro-ecology: building a new food system for Europe,” by Friends of the Earth Europe; March 2014 (10 pages)

Agroecology – What it is and what it has to Offer,” by Laura Silici, Researcher, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED); June 2014 (28 pages)

Closing the knowledge gap: How the USDA could tap the potential of biologically diversified farming systems,” by Liz Carlisle and Albie Miles, Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, Vol. 3, No. 4; September 2013 (7 pages). This publication can also be found HERE.

 

Agroecology: Growing the Roots of Resistance,” by Steve Gliessman, Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, Vol. 37, No.1; January 1, 2013 (14 pages). This publication can also be found HERE.

Hungry for Innovation: Pathways from GM crops to Agroecology,” by David A. Quist, Jack A. Heinemann, Anne I. Myhr, Iulie Aslaksen and Silvio Funtowicz, Chapter 19 in ‘Late Lessons from Early Warnings II: Science, Precaution, Innovation,’ by the European Environment Agency; January, 2013 (29 pages)

Agroecology, Food Sovereignty, and the New Green Revolution,” by Eric Holt-Giménez & Miguel A. Altieri, Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, Vol 37, Issue 1; 2013 (13 pages)

Agroecology and Alternative Agri-Food Movements in the United States: Toward a Sustainable Agri-Food System,” by Margarita Fernandez, Katherine Goodall, Meryl Olson & V. Ernesto Méndez, Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, Vol. 37, Issue 1; Dec. 17, 2012 (12 pages). This publication can also be found HERE and HERE.

Green Agriculture: foundations for biodiverse, resilient and productive agricultural systems,” by Parviz Koohafkan, Miguel A. Altieri and Eric Holt Giménez, International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, Vol. 10, 1; February 2012 (13 pages)

Agroecology Scaling Up for Food Sovereignty and Resiliency,” by Miguel A. Altieri and C.I. Nicholls, Sustainable Agriculture Reviews, Vol. 11; 2012 (29 pages). This publication can also be found HERE and HERE.

Also see: “Agroecology Scaling Up for Food Sovereignty and Resiliency,” by Miguel A. Altieri and C.I. Nicholls & Fernando Funes, Latin American Scientific Society of Agriculture (SOCLA); May, 2012 (20 pages)

This publication can also be found HERE, HEREHERE, and HERE.

Green Agriculture: foundations for biodiverse, resilient and productive agricultural systems,” by Parviz Koohafkan, Miguel A. Altieri and Eric Holt Giménez, International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, Vol. 10, 1; February 2012 (13 pages)

A Voice for Sustainability from Latin America (Editorial),” by Steve Gliessman, Journal of Sustainable Agriculture, Vol. 36, No. 1; 2012 (2 pages)

 

Less Hunger through more Ecology: What can organic farming research contribute?“ by Johannes Kotschi, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, November 2011 (19 pages). This publication can also be found HERE.

Excerpt: Agriculture must be fundamentally realigned in order for the following three goals to be achieved collectively: food security, adaptation to climate change, and preservation of natural resources. Today, very few people dispute that the ecologisation of agriculture is a core principle for this realignment. Where they disagree is what development it should undergo.

Organic agriculture has already provided significant impetus for such realignment, and it can also be viewed as a future driving force. In contributing to a renewal of agriculture, it serves a dual system: for highly intensive, largescale and industrialized agriculture, it generates innovations that can help to use resources more efficiently and in an environmentally friendly way; for smallholder agriculture, it provides systems of food and livelihood security which are, in many instances, ecologically and economically superior to other forms of agriculture.

Compared with the goals of food security and sustainability in production, organic agriculture in its present state is not yet efficient enough, but it does offer plenty of development potential and is perhaps the most future-proof option available today. Though still in its infancy, research into organic agriculture is vested with the task of tapping this potential. For this to be realized, research into organic agriculture needs to be given a significant boost of funds and realigned.

When determining the content of future research, more emphasis should be placed on the intensification of production, yield increase and global nutrition than has been the case thus far. In this context, two fields of work in urgent need of being addressed are plant breeding and soil productivity.

The agroecological revolution in Latin America: rescuing nature, ensuring food sovereignty and empowering peasants,” by Miguel A. Altieri and Victor Manuel Toledo, The Journal of Peasant Studies, Vol 38, No 3; July 8, 2011 (26 pages). This publication can also be found HERE.

Agroecosystem Management and Nutritional Quality of Plant Foods: The Case of Organic Fruits and Vegetables,” by K. Brandt, C. Leifert, R. Sanderson & C. J. Seal, Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences, Vol. 30, No 1-2; January 1, 2011 (21 pages)

Agroecology and the Right to Food,” by Dr. Olivier De Schutter (Special Rapporteur to the U.N. on the Right to Food) United Nations Human Rights Council; December 20, 2010 (21 pages). This publication can also be found HERE and HERE.

Agriculture at a Crossroads – Global Report,” edited by Beverly McIntyre, Hans Herren, Judi Wakhungu and Robert Watson, International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD); 2009 (606 pages) This publication can also be found HERE. This publication can also be downloaded from HERE and HERE.

Also see: “Agriculture at a Crossroads – Synthesis Report,” edited by Beverly McIntyre, Hans Herren, Judi Wakhungu and Robert Watson, International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD); 2009 (106 pages) This publication can also be found This publication can also be found HERE and HERE.

Small Farms as a Planetary Ecological Asset: Five Key Reasons Why We Should Support the Revitalization of Small Farms in the Global South,” by Miguel A. Altieri, Third World Network; 2008 (24 pages). This publication can also be found HERE.

Excerpt: The globalized economy has placed a series of conflicting demands on existing croplands. Not only is this land required to produce food for a growing human population, but it also must meet the increased demands for biofuels; and it must do so in an environmentally sound way that preserves biodiversity with minimal use of petrochemicals thus reducing greenhouse emissions, while still representing a profitable activity to millions of farmers.

These pressures are setting in motion a global food system crisis of unprecedented scope that is already signaled by food riots in many parts of the world. This crisis, which threatens the livelihoods of over a billion hungry people, is the direct result of the dominating industrial farming model, which is dangerously dependent on fossil fuels and has also become the largest source of human impact on the biosphere. Ninety-one per cent of the 1.5 billion hectares of cropland are under annual crops worldwide, mostly monocultures of wheat, rice, maize, cotton, and soybeans highly dependent on inputs of chemical fertilizers and pesticides and huge amounts of irrigation water, and which increasingly advance at the expense of forests and other natural vegetation. In this century, one of the main ecological dilemmas arising from the environmental homogenization of agricultural systems is an increased vulnerability of crops to climate change. Subsidized grain monocultures convey temporary economic advantages to a few large-scale farmers, but in the long term they do not represent an ecological optimum. Rather, the drastic narrowing of cultivated plant diversity has put the world’s food production in greater peril. The social and environmental impacts of local crop shortfalls resulting from such uniformity can be considerable in an era of climatic extremes as crop losses often mean ongoing ecological degradation, poverty, hunger and even famine.

Before the end of the first decade of the 21st century, humanity is quickly realizing that the fossil fuel-based, capital-intensive, industrial-agricultural model is not working to meet the global food demands. Soaring oil prices are inevitably increasing production costs and food prices, which have already escalated to the point that today $1 purchases 30% less food than one year ago. This situation is rapidly being aggravated by farmland being turned from food production to biofuels; it is also being complicated by climate change, which has reduced crop yields as a result of droughts, floods, and other unpredictable weather events. Expanding land areas devoted to biofuels and transgenic crops is further exacerbating the ecological footprint of vast monocultures. Moreover, industrial agriculture presently contributes at least one-quarter of current greenhouse gas emissions, mainly methane and nitrous oxide. Continuing this dominant degrading system, as promoted by the current economic paradigm, is no longer a viable optionWe need an alternative agricultural development paradigm: one that encourages more ecological, biodiverse, sustainable, and socially just forms of agriculture. [Emphasis added, citations omitted]

Agroecology and the Struggle for Food Sovereignty in the Americas: A Collaborative Project of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), the IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP) and the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (Yale F&ES),” edited by Avery Cohn, Jonathan Cook, Margarita Fernández, Rebecca Reider and Corrina Steward, Environment and Development (IIED); 2006 (222 pages). This publication can also be found HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.

This publication is also here in a slightly different format: “Agroecology and the Struggle for Food Sovereignty in the Americas,” edited by Avery Cohn, Jonathan Cook, Margarita Fernández, Rebecca Reider and Corrina Steward, Environment and Development (IIED), the IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP) and the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (Yale F&ES); 2006 (184 pages)

Excerpt: Common claims about industrial-farm superiority are based on criteria that are misleading because they are two-dimensional. They take account of yields per unit of surface area (in hectares or acres). They do not consider the effects on soil, the third dimension, nor the agroecosystem’s capacity for future production – time being the fourth dimension. Standard agroeconomic criteria are also mono-functional, considering only crop yield prices, while neglecting the effects of industrial farming on social wellbeing and culture, on valuable crop genetic diversity, and on other species. Most agricultural economists consider such effects to be “externalities” that are not relevant in measuring farm efficiency….

When plant and animal products are not recycled to maintain soil fertility, or when pesticides and fertilizers destroy beneficial subsoil life, the monetary and energy costs of farming the damaged land can rise greatly over just a few seasons. Farmers introduced to chemical fertilizers often report surges in short-term yields, only to find that after a few years, little will grow without the application of these inputs. Where farmers lack the wherewithal to purchase agrochemicals or to return plant and animal wastes to the soil, much more than soil fertility can be lost: the land itself, and farm families’ means of feeding themselves. Yet few agronomic or economic analyses are carried out over a long enough period of time to measure these grave losses.

One more problem with most industrial versus smaller-farm comparisons deserves mention. Advocates of “modernized” (industrial) agriculture often assert that a single farm worker in the U.S. Midwest produces as much grain as several people or even dozens of people working on non-mechanized, low-chemical input farms. This claim ignores the labor involved in manufacturing and transporting the machines, chemicals, and fuel that make factory farming possible.

Moreover, less labor on farms is not always a good thing. Around the world, the loss of agricultural employment to mechanization has been a major factor in the decline of rural cultures and migration to swelling cities and abroad. Women, ethnic minorities, and the landless are often hurt most by this job loss. When people lose the ability to feed themselves by their own labor, the costs of their nourishment must be borne by others. [Citations omitted, emphasis added]



सत्यमेव जयते – Satyameva Jayate

(Truth Ultimately Triumphs)

 

Re-posting is encouraged, provided the URL of the original is posted with attribution to the original author(s) and all links are preserved.

Copyright © Jeff Kirkpatrick 2017

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