Newsletter no 20 – Editorial

Agroecology and climate

Peasant Agroecology, the key for humankind and the planet

Illustration: Erin Dunn,

Agroecology has existed for many years, and much has been written about it already. It is a multidimensional approach, founded on knowledge, know-how and peasants’ ways of life, grounded in their respective natural, social and cultural environment. For many years it was considered as archaic and not really adapted to “modern progress”. Agroecology was banished, but is now making a big comeback. But who will reap the benefits?

Agroecological farming ensures soil, peasant seeds and farmers’ knowledge is valued and sustained. It is the symbol of the diversity of production and practice that exists, of the diversity of food and its cultural identities adapted to their social and natural environment. Yet today it is being taken over by industrial agriculture. Industrial agriculture is the opposite of agroecology, as it is based on profit, uniformity, specialisation, and concentration, with all the deadly consequences that this implies.

Industrial agriculture needs to clean up its image, so will yet again try to pull the wool over people’s eyes, talking about sustainable “green agriculture that respects nature and people”, but using the name of agro-ecology [Agroecology : peasant agroecology. Agro-ecology: agroecology taken over and promoted by industrial agriculture.]. It sounds good; but it is just another way of capturing knowledge and patenting living organisms.
This is the way governments and companies around the world are talking. Everyone wants to get in onto the bandwagon. Monsanto, together with Arvalis has trained their advisors in agro-ecology. For them, agro-ecology means boasting about cutting back on chemical inputs in terms of volume but not concentration, continuing to promote hybrid seeds, GMOs and other transgenic plants and animals; monoculture, battery breeding and soil-less gardening, land- water- and natural resource-grabbing etc.

Apart from these practices that are the opposite of what agroecology is about, all this is based on technical dimensions, setting aside the essential social, societal, environmental and spiritual aspects.

This is why it is so urgent for peasant communities and peasant organisations to organise and promote peasant agroecology, linked to the Earth, and implement multiple, diverse forms of family agriculture that are adapted to their environment, their means, biodiversity and knowledge, to ensure healthy, nutritious food and the respect of agri-systems and biodiversity as well as the socio-economic development or territories, including harmonious social cohesion, the respect for community identity, supporting the autonomy of peasants as the corollary of increased income and well-being.

In the framework of Food Sovereignty, peasant agroecology as practised by millions of people and communities is the main key for the preservation of our planet, both today and tomorrow.

IPC working group on Agroecology