Agro-ecology is a farming style that focuses on utilising nature for food production without damaging it, it can also be referred to as sustainable agriculture, ecological agriculture or low-external input agriculture.
FAO 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 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (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.
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Image credit: Kimmy Williams