Agroecology Knowledge Hub

Social process

Agroecology, as a highly varied and diverse set of local practices and systems around the world, is a social construct and a dynamic concept collectively defined both within a given community and between communities, through processes of horizontal exchanges and continuous mutual learning among practitioners: food producers, processors, traders, extension workers, researchers and consumers committed to implementing and promoting its core principles. The horizontal exchanges of local knowledge (farmer-to-farmer, consumer-producer, etc.) and the dialogue among these, within and between different generations, sectors, cultures and traditions, are a crucial building block 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, is widely recognized as a core component of agroecology, which implies a thorough reconsideration of conventional approaches to rural extension and research.

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, for centuries have been the custodians of ancestral agricultural practices, knowledge, and food systems in particular contexts based on holistic views of ecosystems and their components. This understanding is at the root of sustainable natural resource management strategies based on people’s knowledge and human rights, seeking maximization of positive synergies among species and minimization of negative externalities of economic activities on the environment. These principles have been applied throughout history and lie at the basis of modern approaches to agroecology.