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Consultas electrónicas abiertas del HLPE

Re: HLPE consultation on the V0 draft of the Report: Agroecological approaches and other innovations for sustainable agriculture and food systems that enhance food security and nutrition

Bruno Rapidel
Bruno RapidelCIRADFrance

General comments

This synthesis was very much oriented at agroecology in its title. No problems in including CSA or agroforestry under this umbrella, this seems appropriate to me. What I am uncomfortable with is the restrictive views on agroecology as a social movement. All three classical definitions are presented, but at the end in this report, agroecology is basically a social approach.

My concern here is that this view precludes any definite political recommendation toward agroecology. As a social movement, agroecology must prevail by itself. The fact that such approach could be institutionally promoted (for example, by sourcing food for public societies in agroecological production, but also by public research) is overlooked. And, at the very basic level, to create a wide offer of inventions, for innovation systems to pick up what is appropriate, adapt them or not, etc, there needs to be research. Research on varieties adapted to these complex environment, for example. In Coffee or cocoa agroforestry systems, the varieties used in dense agroforestry systems have been bred in full sun systems, or not bred at all. There needs to be a global effort on agroecological research, similar to the one that existed to promote the Green Revolution, but with other goals (well cited in this report). And that requires international and national support and coordination.

Another bias, in my opinion, exists in the treatment of local knowledge. Local knowledge is the starting point for agroecology. That we agree. As such, it must be documented, shared, valued, etc. But there are different ways to build on this knowledge, to create new, useful knowledge. And the « hybridization » of local knowledge and scientific knowledge is a good way to move forward. This report overlooks, in my opinion, this possibility and urgency, the only knowledge that is stated to be useful would be the local knowledge. I do not agree with this view.

Detailed comments

Figure 1 is used to structure the concepts in this report. I do not find it that useful : the connections between the different lines seem not clear, in particular lines Approaches, overarching principles and Pillars. There is no vertical coherence, and then, just a superposition of concepts. Specifically, I can agree with the overarching principles, and with the 4 or 5 pillars. What I do not understand is their relation to each other. Each principles contributes  (or has to contribute) to all pillars? Same questions with the connection between approaches and the lines above.

Figure 3: the word approach here is not consistent with the definition of approaches given later. Moreover,  I cannot understand approaches 10 (birds and bats activity) and 12 (predatory wasps activity) as "approaches" or even « strategies ». They should be enhanced by having trees for nesting or providing nesting sites artificially, but are just consequences of prior management.


P 22-23: GIAHS, is this really related to agroecology? To me, this initiative has different roots, mostly around protection. But this sounds as a sparing strategy, in the sparing / sharing debate, sort of: " lets spare these systems because they are cute, whereas lets put industrial farms on ugly land..." Not sure this reference is useful and not sidestepping in that regard for this report.

Box 4:

Principle 1 is the only one in resource (use ?) efficiency is very broad. then, if resources are renewable, do we need to optimize their use, or rather to maximize it?

Principle 2: external to what?

Principle 3, what is the relationship between animal welfare and resilience?

Principle 5: maintain instead of maintaining

Principle 8 and 9 could be merged? And innovation in principle 8 comes a bit out of the blue, should be removed or properly introduced here.

Principle 11: culturally appropriate should be part of principle 10

Principle 12: to me, this one is a very broad one, encompassing many of the others; there are, thus, principles that lie at different levels

Table 3. Not sure about this table, how it was filled. Principle 1, 4, could well concern FO as well. Direct and indirect contribution to food security, I find it difficult to grasp the rationale in giving I or D marks, could be disputed almost everywhere

Page 33 lines 6-7 « Similarly, those innovations requiring investments that save labour may not be seen as desirable where labor is more readily available than monetary resources (Dorin, 2017) » : This is a big issue,  far from neutral. It could be seen as a contradiction to SDG 1: No poverty. This very probably does not apply as globally as stated there. Moreover, stating that labor productivity is not a concern, is probably untrue. Other points can be cited as well, as labor quality, conditions, ergonomics and arduousness, etc. but ruling out labor productivity is not an option I guess.

Box 7 does not contain any reference to risks. Perhaps it is embedded in the diversification section, but I would give this aspect more visibility. I guess risk is a big issue, in agriculture as a whole, but also in nutrition (one needs to eat daily) and in the agroecological transition (there is a shift in risks natures and on who bears the risks).

Figure 6: comment already made on the relationship between lines in the figure. Agroecology is located under resource efficiency, while in the previous section it was noted that resource efficiency was but one criterion in a list of many. The explanation is very probably that there is no vertical correspondence in this figure.

2. 3. Description of innovative approaches: I am puzzled by this thorough description of approaches that are widely different in nature: some are more philosophical, describing the principles on which they are based, without any practical example about the levers it has to change FSN locally. I wonder if they should not be separated into types, with different features for each type of « approaches ». Another problem with these different levels of approaches is that they are widely overlapping between types. Some initiative can build on agroforestry practices, while using a food sovereignty approach.

Bruno Rapidel