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Social process

Agroecology, as a highly varied and diverse set of local practices and systems around the world, is necessarily a social construct and a dynamic concept collectively defined both within a given community and between communities through a processes of intra- or inter-national, intra- or inter-sectoral and intra- or inter-generational horizontal exchanges and continuous mutual learning among food producers committed to implementing and promoting its core principles.

These horizontal exchanges of knowledge (famer-to-farmer, consumer-producer, etc) within and between different generations, sectors, cultures and traditions, are a crucial building block of agroecology intended as a social process resulting in continuous co-creation and reproduction of agricultural knowledge - a growing number of agroecology schools set up and run by peasant organizations being a powerful example of how these can be encouraged and supported.

The fact that agroecology is based on applying and adapting universal principles to the specificities of local realities implies that local knowledge systems, as well as the dialogue among these, are essential building blocks of the concept of agroecology. The diverse and complementary in-depth knowledge available within rural families and communities on what works and what doesn't within a given territory, and the ingenuity and capability of farmers and small-scale food producers to innovate and adapt through on-farm experimentation, sharing and mutual learning, must thus necessarily be considered as core components of agroecology, which implies a thorough reconsideration of conventional approaches to rural extension.

Vast numbers of small-scale food producers all around the world, including peasants, herders and pastoralists, hunters and gatherers, family farmers, fisherfolk and indigenous peoples have been for centuries the custodians of ancestral agricultural practices and food systems based on holistic views of ecosystems and their components. This understanding is at the root of sustainable natural resource management strategies, seeking maximization of positive synergies among species and minimization of negative externalities of economic activities on the environment, which have been applied throughout history and lie at the basis of modern approaches to agroecology.