The garden of agroecology: A few real-life examples
The challenges of population growth, dwindling biodiversity and climate change require us to rethink our current food supply systems and call for solution approaches in terms of an agroecological transformation. This starts with cultivation, continues with processing and trade, and reaches all the way to the consumer and the political and social environment.
On the interactive graphic you will find a few real-life examples identified by numbers. Click on it to learn more.
Carp in rice paddies
Even today, worldwide fish populations are severely threatened. For many people, especially in developing countries, fish products are among the most important sources of proteins and micronutrients. Sustainable fisheries and aquaculture are therefore key aspects of food security.
In Madagascar, aquaculture and food production are directly linked. Carp are used in flooded rice paddies. While the fish grow, they feed on snails and insects. They root around in the ground to find food, and in doing so, release nutrients that allow the rice plants to grow better. In addition to producing fish, the system also increases rice yields by ten percent.
To date, about 5,100 women and 9,800 men have learned techniques for farming fish in ponds and rice paddies as part of the Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture project. The additional fish provided by this system directly contributes to the food security of about 10,500 people.
Cocoa with sun protection
Monocultures are intended to increase yields, but they severely deplete the soil and make it barren, and encourage the spread of plant diseases. Agroforestry systems, by contrast, take advantage of the beneficial interactions that emerge when land is used for field crops or livestock farming and woody plants at the same time.
In the Côte d’Ivoire, farmland is being combined with forest, meaning that cocoa plants are grown among other trees. The trees protect the cocoa plants from wind, too much sun and insect pests, and they also supply the cocoa with nutrients. Thanks to the large proportion of trees, more carbon dioxide is stored as well.
Since it was launched in the autumn of 2020, the global project Forests4Future has already introduced reforestation, agroforestry, soil and water protection measures to restore productivity to landscapes and forests in Madagascar, Togo and Ethiopia on an area covering about 978 hectares. That’s about 1,369 football pitches.
Land in the hands of women
When access and ownership rights for land and water are not clearly defined, this often leads to land and resources not being used sustainably, and sometimes land conflicts arise. So, clear ownership structures are of vital significance. Women play a special part in this. Although they constitute half of all agricultural labour, they are discriminated against in land allocation and land ownership.
In Burkina Faso, a participatory process is being used to support female landowners in particular, and ownership structures are being surveyed and documented with the aid of GPS devices.
In addition, the Responsible Land Policy global programme has contributed to resolving nearly 3,200 land conflicts. Resolving such conflicts not only brings social peace, but also results in increased agricultural productivity and willingness to invest.
Protecting the soil to harvest the future
It’s impossible to produce food without good soil. Measures like stone walls, river weirs or plantings prevent fertile soil on sloped terrain from being eroded by wind and rain. They restore soils by damming fertile sediments, and they improve the seepage of precipitation into the soil – which is particularly important in arid regions. But that is only part of the solution: Reforestation, better grazing management and adding organic material all help to bind carbon in the soil, thereby contributing to the fight against global warming. In addition, seed drilling, organic fertiliser and biopesticides preserve the soil and groundwater.
Since 2015, the global project Soil Protection and Rehabilitation for Food Security has implemented measures to protect against erosion and to increase soil fertility in six countries in Africa and in India. A total area measuring half a million football pitches has been protected or rehabilitated for productive and sustainable agricultural use.
Thanks to such measures, smallholders were able to increase their yields by an average of 45 percent, directly improving the food situation of nearly one million people.
Access to ecological knowledge
People in the world today are consuming three times as much organic food as they did 15 years ago. This represents a lucrative market for African farmers who grow and sell organic fruit, coffee, grains and other cultivars. But many farmers in Africa lack the theoretical and practical know-how to take advantage of this opportunity.
The global project Knowledge Centre for Organic Agriculture in Africa aims to close this knowledge gap and has been educating master trainers and multipliers in 15 African countries on ecological cultivation and marketing practices. Over the course of the project, a total of 4,300 multipliers and master trainers are to be qualified, so that by the end of the project, 215,000 individuals will have been trained.