June 2, 2016- How can we leave industrial agriculture behind and shift towards agroecology? That is the very question the world’s foremost experts on food security, agro-ecosystems and nutrition- i.e. the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES FOOD)- seeked to answer in their first major & comprehensive report released today.
Entitled “From Uniformity to Diversity: A paradigm shift from industrial agriculture to diversified agroecological systems“, the report urges for a global shift towards agroecology.
First, the experts clearly outlines how today’s industrial food and farming systems have succeeded in supplying large volumes of foods to global markets, but are generating negative outcomes on multiple fronts– whether it be widespread degradation of land, water, and ecosystems; high greenhouse gas emissions; biodiversity losses; persistent hunger and micro-nutrient deficiencies-not to mention the rapid rise of obesity and diet-related diseases; as well as livelihood stresses for farmers around the world.
The report then illustrates why a fundamentally different model of agriculture is needed- i.e. ‘diversified agroecological systems’- a model based on diversifying farms and farming landscapes, replacing chemical inputs, optimizing biodiversity and stimulating interactions between different species, as part of holistic strategies to build long-term fertility, healthy agro-ecosystems and secure livelihoods, ‘diversified agroecological systems’.
Indeed, the report makes a compelling case for the growing body of evidence that suggests that these agroecological systems not only keep carbon in the ground, support biodiversity, rebuild soil fertility and sustain yields over time, providing a basis for secure farm livelihoods- they also compete with industrial agriculture in terms of total outputs, performing particularly strongly under environmental stress, and delivering production increases in the places where additional food is desperately needed and can pave the way for diverse diets and improved health.
Finally, the report explores what is keeping the current system in place and plead for political incentives to be shifted in order for agroecological systems to emerge beyond the margins. Indeed, the expert propose that a series of modest steps and recommendations- which they outline- can collectively shift the centre of gravity in food systems.
This is a must read for anyone interested in agriculture and the future of our food.
- Read the full report
- Read the executive summary
- Read the key messages, also available in French and Spanish