Sustainable agriculture is key to overcoming hunger and climate crises, says UN food agency
Agro-ecology is a farming style that focuses on utilising nature for food production without damaging it.
Agro-ecology is a farming style that focuses on utilising nature for food production without damaging it, also referred to as sustainable, ecological, or low-external input agriculture.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the UN believes these techniques are critical to solve issues of food insecurity among a growing population, increasing resilience to climate change and raising the earnings of farmers.
Pasquale Steduto, regional programme leader for the FAO in the Middle East and North Africa commented: “Agriculture is in transition. Climate change is adding new uncertainty as well as increasing uncertainty. By introducing agroecology principles, you can reduce the risks of exposure to climate change."
Currently, the global agricultural industry is rooted in the extensive use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides which can cause environmental damage and affect human health.
Agro-ecology sees chemical fertilisers replaced with natural methods such as planting trees amongst crops and rotating foods to improve soil.
Stephane Le Foll, a French parliamentarian and former agriculture minister, added: "We have three big challenges to manage - climate change, food security, and the connection between agriculture, forestry, economy and employment".
Stephane Le Foll also highlights that agriculture can be used to combat global warming and is part of a campaign to increase the amount of carbon held in agricultural soils by 4 percent a year.
Soil absorbs carbon through sequestration which in turn improves soil fertility. In Africa agro-ecology has proven successful in helping farmers overcome degraded soil and poor weather. For example, according to the Institute for Sustainable Development, agro-ecology has provided better yields than chemical fertilisers in five critical crops including barley and maize in Ethiopia.
Our sister organisation, Aid & International Development Forum, is hosting its inaugural Africa Climate Smart Agriculture Summit on 15-16th May 2018 in Nairobi, Kenya. The summit will discuss innovations and challenges in CSA practices, increasing cross industry collaboration for CSA, financial investment for CSA and much more.