Agriculture: Offender and Victim

In Ruvuma Village (Tanzania) farmers successfully apply agroecological principles. They participated in the Biovision project "Training Centre for ecological agriculture".

A sweltering summer, discussions at the WEF in Davos, student strikes: Everyone is talking about climate change and acknowledging it as an immense challenge. Biovision is looking to agroecology for agricultural solutions.

by Fabio Leippert, Biovision

Agriculture, one of the main causes of climate change, is responsible for up to one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions. Farmers worldwide are meanwhile struggling with extreme droughts or excessive rain. East Africa, for example, has already been confronted with five droughts since 2005, resulting in food insecurity. Aside from such extreme situations, agricultural conditions are also becoming increasingly difficult due to rising temperatures, soil salinization, and changing rainy seasons. Serious consequences include decreasing food availability, water conflicts and a lack of future prospects.

Agroecology as a way out of this dilemma

With these problematic trends is the growing realization that this cannot continue. Biovision has been working for years towards ecological and social transformation. Our demand for multifunctional agriculture is meeting growing approval in discussions about climate change. Striving for absolute maximum production with universal, optimized and harmful methods is no longer a way forward. Rather, an optimal yield of healthy food must be achieved in the most sustainable ways possible. Harvesting losses and food waste must be also avoided. Reducing the high proportion of greenhouse gas emissions such as CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide caused by conventional agriculture is also obviously important. All this can be achieved with agroecology approaches. This concept is based on diversity, closed cycles and recycling, as well as on helpful interactions between live and inanimate nature. Agroecology also takes social aspects, such as regional value creation, cultural food needs and equal rights, into account.

Advocate of agroecology

Biovision’s project "Advocacy for Agroecology: Climate Change" is active at the global level and with individual countries to change the course of agriculture. At the Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland, for example, we demonstrated the advantages of natural resource conservation and agroecological solutions for climate protection to political decision makers. This allowed us to tap into the political momentum that has arisen worldwide as a result of climate commitments and the urgency of climate change. At the country level, we support the Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture with concrete recommendations for action and a coordinated policy dialogue to plan agroecological and climate-friendly measures in agriculture.

Science is also an important field of action for Biovision. Together with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), we are currently preparing a scientific study on the effectiveness of agroecology. Based on these facts, we want to ensure that sustainable but neglected forms of agriculture are provided with sufficient research funds. In order to make the most of the untapped potential of systems like agroecology, these forms of sustainability urgently need to be further developed. Last but not least, we have created a new knowledge base that shows what agroecology is and how it works. This knowledge base lists and documents a large number of good examples.