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Agroecology & Family Farming

Agroecology is a scientific discipline, a set of practices and a social movement. As a science, it studies how different components of the agroecosystem interact. As a set of practices, it seeks sustainable farming systems that optimize and stabilize yields. As a social movement, it pursues multifunctional roles for agriculture, promotes social justice, nurtures identity and culture, and strengthens the economic viability of rural areas. Family farmers are the people who hold the tools for practising Agroecology. They are the real keepers of the knowledge and wisdom needed for this agenda. Therefore, family farmers around the world are the keys elements for producing food in an agroecological way.  

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Family farmers are important holders of agroecological knowledge and they are, thus, key to implementing Agroecology on the ground. Agroecology is a way to connect traditional and scientific knowledge in order to produce food in a more sustainable way. It aims to find local solutions and does not apply “one-size-fits-all” solutions. Agroecological solutions are both regional and local. Because of these specificities, it is also more resilient to a changing climate.

By using ecological concepts and principles to design and manage a sustainable food system, Agroecology focuses on the interactions between plants, animals, humans and the environment. Agroecological practices build on these interactions, applying innovative solutions that harness and conserve biodiversity. It is scientifically based on principles related to biomass recycling, soil, natural input (sun radiation, air, water and nutrients) loss minimizing, agrobiodiversity enhancement and enforcement of biological interactions in agroecosystem components.
Agroecology is based on the three pillars of sustainable development so that, with emphasis on economic, social and environmental approach sustainability, countries can increase their food production, at the same time protecting the environment and promoting social inclusion. Agroecology also plays a very important role in ensuring nutritional security and creating a more resilient agricultural system to deal with climate change challenges. Agroecology builds on both traditional and scientific knowledge to deliver context-specific and adaptable solutions that deliver not only food security, but also nutrition.

It is important to highlight the role that farmers’ organizations play in maintaining the knowledge and tools needed to practice Agroecology. For many farmers´ organizations around the world, Agroecology is the only way to access and control natural and productive resources (such as land, water, seeds, etc.) and produce healthy food for people in harmony with the environment.   

One of the main features of Agroecology is that it looks for local solutions and linkages with the local economy and local markets, and keeps farmers in the field with improved livelihoods and a better quality of life. So Agroecology could play very important role in ending poverty and hunger in the field. As a local solution, based on local needs, another advantage of Agroecology is that it also aims at the production of more nutritious and culturally appropriate food and produces less food waste. Production is diversified, so farmers produce a variety of foods with different nutrients and this ensures a balance diet.

Family farming lex

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2017 - Universidade de Campinas, Brasil