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FAO'S

WORK ON
AGROECOLOGY
A pathway to
achieving the SDGs
FAO'S WORK ON AGROECOLOGY

CONTENTS
PAGES 4-5
INTRODUCTION
PAGES 6-7
KEY MESSAGES
PAGES 8-9
AGROECOLOGY
AND THE 2030 AGENDA
PAGES 10-11
A GLOBAL DIALOGUE
PAGES 12-19
AGROECOLOGY IN ACTION
PAGES 20-21
FACTS AND FIGURES
PAGES 22-23
AGROECOLOGY IN POLICY
PAGES 24-26
WAY FORWARD
PAGE 27
PUBLICATIONS

Cover photo: CHINA Landscape approach in action. © FAO/T.V. Hieu

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© IFPRI/ Milo Mitchell

"THE FUTURE OF
AGRICULTURE IS
NOT INPUT-
INTENSIVE BUT
KNOWLEDGE-
INTENSIVE.
WE NEED THE
INTEGRATED
APPROACH THAT
AGROECOLOGY
CAN OFFER."
FAO Director-General
José Graziano da Silva

3
FAO'S WORK ON AGROECOLOGY

INTRODUCTION
People-centred,
knowledge-intensive
and rooted to
sustainability,
agroecology matches
the transformative
approach called for
by the 2030 Agenda

To overcome the world’s greatest social and economic equity, and


challenges, the ambitious conserve biodiversity and the
2030 Agenda for Sustainable ecosystem services on which
AGROECOLOGY Development recognises the
urgent need to take action
agriculture depends.

OFFERS A UNIQUE and pursue policies directed Today’s food and agricultural

APPROACH TO
at transformational change. systems have succeeded in
Ending poverty and achieving zero supplying large volumes of food

MEETING THE hunger, while ensuring inclusive


growth and sustainably managing
to global markets, yet they cannot
deliver sustainable development
NEEDS OF FUTURE the planet’s natural resources, all in
the context of climate change, will
for all. High-external input,
resource-intensive agricultural
GENERATIONS only be possible by committing to
the sustainable world of tomorrow.
systems have contributed to
deforestation, water scarcity,
WHILE ENSURING This calls for a transition to
biodiversity loss, soil depletion
and high levels of greenhouse gas
NO ONE IS sustainable food and agriculture emissions. Despite progress in

LEFT BEHIND
systems that ensure food security reducing hunger, malnutrition –
and nutrition for all, provide including stunting and wasting,

4
CHAD
Women from the village of Boula-Ngara
making a wind-breaking fence which allows
them to cultivate a market garden.
©FAO/Sia Kambou

micronutrient deficiencies and including the combination of support of public policies, networks
overweight and obesity – affects a local, traditional, indigenous of knowledge exchange, and by
third of the world. and practical knowledge with strengthening rural institutions
multi-disciplinary science. and improving access to markets.
Agroecology offers a unique
approach to meeting the needs Although not a new concept, By bringing together the valuable
of future generations while agroecology is today gaining knowledge, capacities and
ensuring no one is left behind. interest worldwide among a wide experience of diverse actors
With family farmers, including range of actors as an effective including governments, research,
smallholder farmers, indigenous answer to climate change and civil society and producer
peoples, fisher folks, mountain the interrelated challenges facing organizations, international
farmers and pastoralists at its heart, food systems, finding expression institutions and the private
agroecology seeks to transform in the practices of food producers, sector, FAO’s engagement is
food and agriculture systems, in grassroots social processes adding strength to agroecology.
addressing the root causes of for sustainability and the public Through coordinated action
problems and providing holistic policies of many countries around and collaboration, each partner
and long-term solutions based the world. Many successful has a key role to play in further
on co-creation of knowledge, agroecological approaches are promoting agroecology, and
sharing and innovation, today being scaled up through the contributing to a better world.

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FAO'S WORK ON AGROECOLOGY

KEY
MESSAGES
Agroecology can Agroecology –
contribute to supported by an
accelerating the enabling policy
achievement of the environment - can help
2030 Agenda. transition to sustainable
Agroecological approaches food systems.
address root causes of hunger,
poverty and inequality, helping With an enabling institutional
to transform food systems framework featuring integrated
and build resilient livelihoods policies, partnerships and
through a holistic, integrated investments across sectors,
way that balances the three agroecology can contribute to
dimensions of sustainability national development objectives.
– social, economic and FAO continues to work with
environmental – ensuring no one countries, playing a key role to
is left behind bring stakeholders together to
develop policies and learn from
Agroecology: win- experiences in promoting and
win-win for people, scaling up agroecology.

planet and livelihoods. Agroecology is a living


Three-quarters of the world’s concept – together,
815 million hungry people are
family farmers who produce we can help realise its
most of the planet’s food. full potential.
Agroecological approaches focus
on the critical agents of change Investing in knowledge and
– family farmers, indigenous innovation is key. Farmers need
peoples, fishers, rural women to be placed in the centre of co-
and youth. By marrying innovation systems, allowing a
scientific evidence with local process that combines both scientific
wisdom, and by shortening and traditional knowledge that
the market chain and bringing complement and reinforce each
producer and consumer closer other. It is important to foster
together, agroecology can knowledge exchange and share
contribute to satisfying our practices, and to create opportunities
present and future food needs. for collaboration and innovation.

6
HAITI
Local farmers at Les Cayes sorting
Cajanus Cajan beans, a fast-growing,
disease-resistant bean seed for a
post-disaster seed reserve.
© FAO/G. Bizzarri

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FAO'S WORK ON AGROECOLOGY

AGROECOLOGY
AND THE
2030 AGENDA
From tackling hunger, poverty
and inequality to responding to
climate change to safeguarding
biodiversity and expanding
nutritional choice, agroecology
echoes the goals of the
2030 Agenda.

The agroecology approach is


holistic, balancing focus on
people and the planet, the
three dimensions of sustainable
development – social, economic
and environmental, while
strengthening, the livelihoods
of smallholder food producers,
indigenous peoples, women
and youth

Agroecology contributes directly


to multiple SDGs through
integrated practices that cut
across many areas. Along with
the SDGs, agroecology can also
contribute to realising the aims of
the Paris Climate Agreement, the
Convention on Biological Diversity
and the United Nations Convention
AGROECOLOGY to Combat Desertification.

CONTRIBUTES
DIRECTLY TO PERU

MULTIPLE SDGs Forest nursery.


© FAO/A. Odoul

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9
FAO'S WORK ON AGROECOLOGY

A GLOBAL
DIALOGUE
In September 2014, FAO hosted
the 1st International Symposium on
10 ELEMENTS
Agroecology for Food Security and OF AGROECOLOGY
Nutrition. The Symposium, which Presented as a means to guide
involved representatives of FAO Member the transition to sustainable food
Countries, researchers, civil society, and agricultural systems, these
the private sector and the UN system, 10 Elements of Agroecology are
provided an opportunity to share based on seminal scientific literature
experiences and discuss the contribution on agroecology1, and complemented
of agroecology to sustainable food by discussions during FAO’s
and agriculture systems. Building on its
multi-actor regional meetings on
outcomes, FAO convened a series of
agroecology from 2015 to 2017, civil
regional meetings to better understand
the different contexts and specific local
society values on agroecology, and
needs of agroecology. From 2015 to the review of international and
2017, multi-actor regional seminars were FAO experts.
held in five regions (sub-Saharan Africa,
Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia Each of the 10 Elements of
and the Pacific, Europe and Central Agroecology are interlinked systems. Through the co-creation
Asia, and the Near East and North and interdependent: process, agroecology blends the
Africa), involving 1 400 participants traditional, indigenous, practical and
from 170 FAO Member Countries. Diversity local knowledge of producers with
Through a series of exchanges,
Highly diverse, global scientific knowledge.
the regional seminars revealed a
agroecological
diversity of perspectives, experiences,
geographies, cultures, and approaches
production systems Synergies
DIVERSITY
to agroecology. At the same time, they such as agroforestry, silvopastoral Agroecological systems
identified a number of commonalities systems, crop–livestock–aquaculture selectively combine the
between regions and across different integration and polycultures diverse components of
SYNERGIES
approaches to agroecology – including contribute to a range of production, farms and agricultural landscapes to
shared challenges, opportunities socio-economic, nutrition and build and enhance synergies.
and objectives, as well as common environmental benefits.
characteristics of agroecological systems, Efficiency
practices and approaches. Co-creation and sharing Increased resource-use
of knowledge efficiency is an emergent
"With the 2014 symposium,
Agroecology depends property of agroecological
FAO opened a window introducing EFFICIENCY
agroecology in the cathedral of the
on context-specific systems. By optimising the use of
CO-CREATION AND
Green Revolution. Now it is time to knowledge. Knowledge playsSHARING OF KNOWLEDGE natural resources such as soil, air,
consolidate and scale up policies, a central role in the process of solar energy, water, agroecology
partnerships and investments." developing and implementing uses fewer external resources,
FAO Director-General agroecological innovations to reducing costs and negative
José Graziano da Silva address challenges across food environmental impacts.

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ITALY

1st International Symposium on


Agroecology for Food Security and
Nutrition, 30 September 2014.
© FAO/A. Pierdomenico

food security and nutrition


while maintaining the health
of ecosystems.

Responsible
governance
Transparent, accountable
and inclusive governance RESPONSIBLE
mechanisms at different scales
GOVERNANCE

are necessary to create an


enabling environment that
supports producers to transform
their systems. Equitable access to
land and natural resources is not
only key to social justice, but also
essential to providing incentives
Recycling Human and social values for long-term investments
By imitating natural Agroecology places a in sustainability.
ecosystems, agroecological strong emphasis on
practices support biological human and social values, HUMAN AND Circular and solidarity
RECYCLING
processes that drive the recycling of such as dignity, equity, inclusion
SOCIAL VALUES
economy
nutrients, biomass and water within and justice, all contributing Agroecology seeks to
production systems. to sustainable livelihoods. reconnect producers and CIRCULAR AND
SOLIDARITY ECONOMY
It puts the aspirations and consumers through a circular
Resilience needs of those who produce, and solidarity economy that
Enhancing ecological distribute and consume food prioritizes local markets and
and socio-economic at the heart of food systems. supports territorial development.
resilience, agroecological Agroecology seeks to address Innovative markets that support
RESILIENCE
systems have a greater capacity inequalities by creating agroecological production
to recover from disasters such as opportunities for women help respond to a growing
drought, floods or hurricanes, and youth. demand from consumers for
and to resist pest and disease healthier diets.
attack. Through diversification, Culture and food
producers reduce their vulnerability traditions CULTURE AND
if a single crop or commodity By supporting healthy, FOOD TRADITIONS 1
In particular, Altieri’s (1995) five principles of agroecology
fails. Reducing dependence on diversified and culturally and Gliessman’s (2015) five levels of agroecological transitions:
Altieri, M.A. 1995. Agroecology: The Science of Sustainable
external inputs increases producers’ appropriate diets, agroecology Agriculture. CRC Press. Gliessman, S.R. 2015. Agroecology:
autonomy and reduces their values local food heritage The Ecology of Sustainable Food Systems. 3rd Edition.
vulnerability to economic risk. and culture, contributing to Boca Raton, FL, USA, CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group.

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FAO'S WORK ON AGROECOLOGY

AGROECOLOGY
IN ACTION
Combining traditional exploring synergies, seeking ways
in which the FFS methodology
and modern scientific can be applied to scale up
knowledge in agroecological approaches.
Key activities combining FFS and
innovative ways, these agroecology in 2016 and 2017
included national and regional
stories tell of successful GEF-funded projects to strengthen
agroecological the adaptation of farmers and
agro-pastoralists to climate change
approaches in Angola, Burkina Faso, Mali and
delivering viable Mozambique, where participants
also included representatives of
and locally-adapted multiple ministries to generate a
solutions to improve holistic view of agroecology across
sectors. Through an exchange
the livelihoods of of knowledge and experiences,
participants shared information
people all around on a whole-system territorial
the world. approach to rural development,
synergies in crop-livestock
integration and explored pathways
SCALING UP AGROECOLOGY to support the scaling-up of consumed locally during festivals,
THROUGH FARMER FIELD SCHOOLS agroecology based on examples are rarely sold on the market
Farmer Field Schools (FFS) are of policy measures and due to competition from lower-
an effective tool for sustainable processes carried out in other priced white rice. Although their
agricultural development and developing countries. production per unit of land is
for achieving the SDGs as they much lower compared to other
enable smallholder farmers to MARKETING THE NUTRITIONAL varieties of rice, these purple and
address local problems and provide GOODNESS OF PURPLE AND PINK pink varieties beat the nutritional
them with critical information RICE FROM THE MOUNTAINS benefits of brown and red rice
and decision-making tools. OF INDIA combined. Rich in fibre, they
Agroecology underpins the FFS The heirloom varieties of purple are loaded with antioxidants,
learning methodology, with results and pink rice are two indigenous Vitamin E, protein, iron, and other
often developed through a process rice varieties grown by family nutrients, while the low sugar
of knowledge co-creation and farmers in the Indian Himalayas at content makes them an extremely
innovative practices. Working to an altitude of 1 200 to 1 800 meters desirable dietary option for heart
integrate agroecology more into above sea level. These varieties, patients, diabetics as well as for
its work in countries, FAO is now grown in small quantities and those with high blood pressure.

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The Pan Himalayan Grassroots Positive feedback from customers, MALI
Development Foundation, a non- retailers and hoteliers, is not only Visit to the Sahelian Center for Training
and Research in Agroecology-
profit voluntary organization in the beneficial for the local community Agrobiology (CSFRA) of Banancoro.
Himalayan states of Uttarakhand but boosts the food and nutrition © Yodit Kebede
and Himachal Pradesh, work security of those dependent on a
to promote sustainable, self- rice-based diet.
reliant development of the rice
in villages. Supporting the MAINSTREAMING
Foundation, the FAO Mountain AGROECOLOGY IN LATIN AMERICA -
Partnership Secretariat is helping A SHORT HISTORY
to explore sustainable markets
for small farming families in the
Focusing on the right to healthy
food, Brazil’s development of
AGROECOLOGY
state of Meghalaya, with specific public policies on agroecology, IS HAPPENING
NOW ALL OVER
training aimed at producer groups, together with other countries,
new packaging and exhibitions has stimulated discussion of
in New Delhi to help promote
the products in niche markets.
the approach in Latin America.
Countries began mapping THE WORLD
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FAO'S WORK ON AGROECOLOGY

AGROECOLOGY
IN ACTION

existing agroecology initiatives


and policies in the region in 2013
following a specific agenda item
of the Specialized Commission on
Family Farming of MERCOSUR
(REAF). This marked the start of
conversations among countries
on regulatory frameworks and
national policies to promote
agroecology, emphasising the
need to establish specific credit
lines, technical assistance and
rural extension services.

Brazil committed to launching a


ARMENIA
regional initiative during the First
A little girl with
FAO International Symposium fresh cherries.
on Agroecology for Food ©Marzio Marzot
Security and Nutrition in 2014.
Through the Community of Latin
American and Caribbean States
(CELAC), a regional seminar on important component of national
Agroecology in Latin America strategies to promote sustainable
and the Caribbean was organized agricultural development and
in 2015, a joint event by CELAC, progress towards inclusive food
REAF, Brazil, and the Alliance for systems, creating a virtuous circle
Food Sovereignty of the Peoples of among healthy food production,
Latin America and the Caribbean natural resource conservation

AGROECOLOGY and FAO. The event, which


featured exchanges on public
and the strengthening of family
farming and rural communities.
IS A KEY TOOL policies and practical experiences
in agroecology among different ECOSYSTEM SERVICE AND
IN THE stakeholders, contributed to the
implementation of the CELAC
BIODIVERSITY FOR FOOD SECURITY
AND NUTRITION AS A BLUE
TRANSITION TO Plan for Food and Nutrition
Security and the Eradication
GROWTH INITIATIVE IN KENYA
Mangrove ecosystems have
SUSTAINABLE of Hunger. This process immense worth, providing a

FOOD SYSTEMS
contributed to agroecology’s multitude of goods and services,
status in Latin America as an stretching from clean water to

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climate regulation to sustaining mangrove forests, and make animals within the restored areas.
the lives of coastal dwellers. income-generating activities more A crab hatchery was supported
Responding to declining areas environmentally responsible. through a Public Private
of mangroves in Kenya, FAO, as Through partnerships with Partnership, and crab aquaculture
part of the Blue Growth Initiative, various stakeholder groups, an activities were implemented in
has implemented a multi-faceted estimated 268 122 seedlings were an environmentally responsible
project with strong agroecological planted in 41 hectares of degraded way. Crabs were marketed in local
elements, including watershed mangrove forest areas, and three tourist hotels and abroad, with
management techniques to new mangrove nurseries were young entrepreneurs starting eco-
support improved ecosystem established in combination with aquaculture farms in collaboration
services at the same time as aquaculture and bee-keeping with local restaurants.
food, nutrition and livelihood activities. These activities to Strengthening cross-sectoral links
security. After using different rehabilitate mangrove forests through agroecology, specifically
techniques to raise awareness of have benefits for both livelihood among coastal management,
the importance of agrobiodiversity generation and ecosystem aquaculture and fisheries, forestry
and environmental protection, services. One significant result sectors, and community-based
the community was better was increased biodiversity of fish management, provides a roadmap
able to sustainably manage fingerlings and others aquatic for an agroecological transition.

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FAO'S WORK ON AGROECOLOGY

AGROECOLOGY
IN ACTION

AGROECOLOGY IN THE HEART


OF HUNGARY
Established in 2013, MagosVölgy
Ecological Farm was set up by
a young couple educated in
agronomy and environmental
management, with the ambition
of creating a farm shaped by
the principles of sustainability
and utilizing local resources.
Their attempts to get support
for the enterprise foundered
due to the farm’s small size and
the intercropping methods they
wanted to adopt, which were not
covered by government subsidies.
Supported by FAO, the ecological
farm has been able to connect to
markets and to other technical
networks, sharing information
and knowledge on agroecological
techniques and small-scale
sustainable food production for
urban people.

SHARING Now the farm employs seven

AND CREATING
young local people, focusing on
utilizing genetic heritage and management plan. Two ponds are

KNOWLEDGE fostering agrobiodiversity. In 2016,


they produced around 30 species
set to be developed to serve as
water reservoirs, wetland habitats
AMONG FOOD and 100 varieties of organic
vegetables using no-till, compost-
hosting multiple beneficial animals
and balancing microclimate.
PRODUCERS mulch permanent bed techniques.
The intention is to double the size
The farm organizes regular events
and open days, and plans are in
IS AT THE of the cropping area, planting
disease-resistant fruit trees to form
place to start educational and
agro-tourism related activities,
HEART OF an agro-pastoral system for the highlighting the importance of

AGROECOLOGY
heritage breed cattle that are an nutritional education and the
integral part of the farm’s nutrient farm-to-table approach.

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INDIA
A Rabari
pastoralist family
on the move in
Kutch district,
western India.
© Maldhari Rural
Action Group

of chemicals and pesticides to


ensure the soil remains pure
and healthy. However despite
their care over time, the beans
of Jumla are threatened by the
arrival to the area of higher-
yielding crops that need less
attention. Through an initiative
led by the Mountain Partnership
and financially supported by the
Italian Development Cooperation,
Jumla’s bean production has
doubled in the past three years
thanks to better marketing and
distribution of the high-quality
product. Its market price has risen
by 25 percent due to the added
value of the Mountain Partnership
Product label, adding 10 Nepalese
rupees per kilogramme to the
profit of farmers. As well as
supporting the livelihoods and
traditional cultures of local
people, the involvement of women
as farmers has also grown by 13
percent in the same period.

MORE THAN A HILL OF BEANS: are tied to the local culture and ACCESSING FUEL FOR COOKING
DIVERSITY, PROSPERITY AND religious festivals like “Janai IN DISPLACEMENT SETTINGS
CULTURE IN NEPAL’S HIMALAYAS purne”, marking the end of the IN ETHIOPIA
Black, red, yellow and rainy month and beginning of In Ethiopia, a family, on average,
multi-coloured, the colourful the cold season. On this day, needs about 4 kilogrammes of
beans grown at an altitude of Newari farmers worship and feed firewood each day to prepare
2 300 metres in the Himalayan frogs – seen as the rain god - to food, based on the fact that
valley of Sinja in the Jumla bless their crops, while cooking around 80 percent of the food
District of Nepal, have immense and consuming a typical mixed required by humans needs
significance for the community bean soup called “Kuwati”. to be cooked. During crises,
that goes far and beyond their The beans are cultivated manually access to energy sources for
high nutritional value. The pulses by local farmers in fields free cooking and heating is often

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FAO'S WORK ON AGROECOLOGY

AGROECOLOGY
IN ACTION

severely limited, and extensive


collection of woodfuel around
refugee camps can cause loss of
forest cover and environmental
degradation. This results in
increased exposure to natural
hazards and climate change,
placing extra pressure on already
vulnerable host communities.
FAO, as a member of the
interagency Safe Access to Fuel
and Energy (SAFE), is supporting
more than 50 000 refugee
households (208 475 individuals)
in Ethiopia through targeted
interventions addressing the
collection and use of energy for CHINA
cooking, heating and productive
uses. SAFE adopts a holistic, Zhejiang Huzhou
mulberry-dyke and
multifaceted approach which fish-pond system.
takes into account the mutually ©Agricultural Bureau
of Huzhou
reinforcing linkages between Municipality,
energy and environment, Zhe Jiang Province
nutrition, health, gender,
protection and livelihoods.
Embracing agroecological helping to meet future fuel OF SILKWORMS, FISH AND
approaches that enhance resilient demands while maintaining the MULBERRIES, CHINA’S RECIPE
and sustainable livelihoods diversity and ecosystem services FOR SUCCESS
in displacement settings, the of existing forest and woodlands Its name may be intriguing,
initiative is based on four actions: 3) Promoting energy efficient but that is nothing compared
1) ensuring a reliable supply of cooking/heating technologies to the fascination for what it
energy by promoting sustainable at household level, which can describes. The Zhejiang Huzhou
natural resource management, be locally produced and sold, mulberry-dike and fish-pond
sustainable bioenergy production contributing to the local economy system was developed by
and the use of alternative and 4) Lessening the burden on farmers’ communities in east
renewable energy sources 2) women by reducing the distances China some 2 500 years ago,
Enhancing wood fuel supply to collect wood for fuel, as well combining traditional and
by establishing multipurpose as reducing their vulnerability to agroecological knowledge in
tree-planting programmes, gender-based violence. an ingenious technique that

18
THE STORY OF
THE ZHEJIANG
HUZHOU
MULBERRY-DIKE
AND FISH-POND
SYSTEM WAS
FIRST TOLD 2 500
YEARS AGO
brings together mulberry trees, fertilizers for mulberry trees.
silkworms and fish. By doing Based on synergies and
so, these farmers succeeded in recycling elements, this virtuous
creating a system of agriculture production circle relies on
to respond to their needs while natural ecosystem services, and
protecting biodiversity and a depends on a complex system
fragile landscape. The ancient of irrigation and drainage,
technique sees mulberry leaves traditionally known as “Zong
fed to beneficial silkworms, Pu Heng Tang”. The Zhejiang
whose feces are then fed to Huzhou mulberry-dike and fish-
fish in the pond. The organic pond system has for centuries
materials that are accumulated supported ancillary businesses
in the pond (sludge), including like silk manufacture, becoming
fish’s feces, are used as part of the community’s identity.

19
FAO'S WORK ON AGROECOLOGY

FACTS
AND FIGURES
SDG committed in 2014 to acquire fresh,
Poverty affects predominantly agroecological food locally to eat
people that live in rural varied, healthy diets based on
areas (about 80 percent of the traditional food culture, resulting
poor worldwide) and work in a combined annual expenditure
in agriculture (64 percent). of up to 600 million USD.
Agroecological approaches
around the world have been shown SDGs
to improve farmers’ income up Vertically coordinated value chains
to 30 percent by, among other challenge small-scale farmers and
strategies, diversification, external have far-reaching implications
input reduction and alternative for dietary patterns, nutrition and
marketing channels. health. Supporting successful
market models that emphasize
SDGs local and regional production
Globally, hunger is on the rise: the can encourage agroecological
number of undernourished people production and foster local
rose to 815 million people in economies. Such is the case
2016 from 777 million in 2015. of the 56 000 urban farmers,
The vast majority live in areas 85 percent of which are women
of conflict and climate change that provide varied, organic food
related shocks. For instance, to 170 000 consumers in Quito,
KENYA
farms that adopted agroecological Ecuador with the support of
A Farmer Field
methods among 180 communities the Municipality. School in Narok.
of smallholders retained 40 ©FAO/Ami Vitale
percent more topsoil and suffered SDGs
69 percent less erosion after Virtually all gender and
Hurricane Mitch hit Nicaragua. development indicators indicate has provided integrated training in
that rural women, who represent agroecological techniques, health
SDGs 25 percent of the world’s and nutrition to more than 8 500
Food supplies became 17 percent population, fare worse than rural women from over 850 villages in
more uniform between 1961 and men and they disproportionately the past 30 years. This has vastly
2009. One-third of the developing experience poverty, exclusion improved the livelihoods of women
world’s population suffer from and the effects of climate and their communities, breaking
micronutrient deficiencies due to change. Agroecological training the circle of poverty.
inadequate diets. Agroecology can for women can be instrumental in
play a pivotal role in addressing reversing this situation. The Barli SDGs
this situation, as demonstrated Development Institute for Rural It is estimated that family
in Ecuador: 250 000 families Women, in Madhya Pradesh, India, farms produce more than

20
SDGs
Biodiversity and its sustainable
use is essential to maintain
agricultural production. Yet up
to 75 percent of the diversity
of genetic food crops has been
lost in the past century, up to
22 percent of the 8 700 livestock
breeds are at risk of extinction
worldwide and 31 percent of
fish stocks are overfished.
Diverse and heterogeneous
agroecological approaches can
preserve and increase wild and
domesticated biodiversity by up
to 30 percent compared with
conventional farming.

SDGs
Healthy soils are fundamental
to sustainable agriculture.
However, 33 percent of the
world’s land is degraded due to
erosion, compaction, salinization
or chemical pollution and about
12 million hectares are lost
each year due to drought and
80 percent of the world’s Production Plan is an desertification. Agroecological
food in value terms, yet example of such policies. techniques coupled with
smallholder farmers and Established in 2013, it locally sourced practices can
family farmers are often provided technical assistance restore and improve soil fertility
excluded from policy to promote agroecology to and health. The combination of
design. Inclusive public 132 000 households in its crop rotation, mixed cropping
policies are instrumental first year, 45 000 people and ‘zaï’, a local water collection
in supporting producers enrolled for training technique, resulted in an up
willing to transition towards courses and agroecological to 130 percent yield increase
agroecology. Established in production was supported compared with conventional
2013, the Brazilian National through the National School practices in three provinces of
Agroecology and Organic Feeding Programme. Burkina Faso.

21
FAO'S WORK ON AGROECOLOGY

AGROECOLOGY
IN POLICY
As agroecology proposes an sustainable path often
integrated process of change face constraints and risks.
through the whole food Support will be needed
system, policy frameworks in the short term through
should include a strong public policies that address
governance component and structural barriers by
address different sectors, providing positive incentives
from production to market. for diversification, while
Priority policies will focus on helping to buffer food
food security, internal and producers in the crucial
local markets and support period when they transform
to family farmers and small- their systems. Specifically,
scale producers. FAO is public policies in support
ready to support countries of agroecology should
develop a policy environment address key challenges
and frameworks to promote that hold back wide-scale
agroecological approaches. agroecological transitions.

Many successful examples Agroecological transitions


of agroecology exist at local can, however, take
and national levels, providing advantage of a number of
innovative and contextualised emerging opportunities.
solutions, based on the Agroecology simultaneously
DRIVEN BY combination of science with
traditional, indigenous,
addresses climate change
adaptation and mitigation,
STRONG practical and local knowledge. making it a promising option

NETWORKS
In certain cases, they have to implement the Paris
been scaled up with the Agreement. Agroecology also

OF DIFFERENT support of public policies,


networks of knowledge
offers the promise of
decent rural employment,
ACTORS, exchange, strengthening rural
institutions and improving
contributing to the millions
of new jobs that need to
AGROECOLOGY access to markets. be created to meet the
aspirations of rural youth.
REQUIRES Creating an enabling
environment is critical to
And agroecology responds to
the growing public demand
POLICY supporting agroecology, for diversified healthy

SUPPORT
as producers wishing food, helping to address
to transition to a more widespread malnutrition.

22
PROMOTING legal frameworks can support market
access for agroecological producers.
single disciplines, increasing yields
of single commodities and top-down
AGROECOLOGY  PUBLIC PROCUREMENT
technology transfer models. To scale
up agroecology, rural education
THROUGH PROGRAMMES and extension systems need to be
POLICY Public procurement programmes can
be used to promote agroecology
strengthened, and a different way of
knowledge co-creation promoted.
FRAMEWORKS and guarantee access to the market
for agroecological production. These  SANITARY AND
programmes should be adjusted PHYTOSANITARY MEASURES
 AGRICULTURAL POLICY to take into consideration the
Policies that promote high-input, To ensure access to markets for
specificities and needs of producers,
resource-intensive farming agroecological products, sanitary
including scale, diversification of
systems, including current research and phytosanitary measures should
production, local values, and local
priorities, should be redirected be adjusted. This needs to be
varieties and products.
to create a level playing field for anchored on effective risk assessment
agroecology and other sustainable  INVESTMENTS, CREDIT with appropriate control systems that
agricultural approaches that take AND INSURANCE allow food producers to meet food
into consideration the external Establishing specific credit lines and safety requirements. Information,
costs and benefits of food systems. investment schemes can help promote training and capacity building
The way success is measured in agroecological production. Credit processes are an important part of
agriculture should be re-examined, lines that allow greater flexibility for this process.
moving beyond an emphasis on food producers to buy local products
production alone to include a and take decisions based on their  COORDINATION AND
wider range of considerations – own needs will support the autonomy COLLABORATION IN POLICY
not least sustainable livelihoods, and adaptive capacity of producers. AND GOVERNANCE
environmental protection and Specific insurance products to support Agroecological transitions require
social inclusion. the agroecological transition phase greater integration among sectors,
can help overcome a significant disciplines and actors to achieve
 SUPPORTING PLURAL barrier that food producers face in multiple objectives. Policies need to
MARKET MODELS transitioning to agroecology. be integrated across scales (from
Dominant market models are not local to national and international)
consistent with agroecological  LAND TENURE AND ACCESS and sectors (from agriculture to
production. Markets that are TO NATURAL RESOURCES other economic sectors policies, and
developed as vertical value chains To allow agroecology to from social policies to environmental
for single products do not match the flourish, a strong governance
ones), to achieve coherence through
needs of diversified agroecological system is imperative. Integrated
a territorial approach. In particular,
approaches, particularly those implementation of the Voluntary
agroecology calls for governance
of smallscale food producers. Guidelines on the Responsible
A diversity of markets that emphasise solutions that can coordinate actions
Governance of Tenure of Land,
local and regional production and at the landscape and territorial scale.
Fisheries, and Forests in the Context
consumption can help encourage of National Food Security would
diversified agroecological be an important move in the An enabling environment is essential
production. Successful models governance direction. for producers transitioning towards
include community-supported agroecology. Currently, about 100 laws
agriculture schemes, e-commerce  RESEARCH, EDUCATION from 28 countries cover agroecology
and participatory guarantee AND RURAL EXTENSION and agroecological transitions to
schemes, which re-connect producers PROGRAMMES different degrees.
and consumers, rural and urban Despite growing calls for change,
areas. Providing formal recognition current research, education and Source: FAO. 2018. FAOLEX
of these alternative market models in extension systems often focus on Database. Rome.

23
FAO'S WORK ON AGROECOLOGY

WAY
FORWARD
Agroecology has immense
potential as a means for
governments to achieve their
national development targets.
Not only does the approach
offer the prospect of zero
hunger, poverty eradication,
growth and sustainable resource
management, but policies
championing agroecology are
sure to be embraced by the
local population.

Scaling up agroecology from a


practice of some countries to a
practice of many would have a
dramatic effect on sustainable
agriculture, enhancing food
systems worldwide. It promises
to support the integration of
more climate-resilient production
systems, incorporating forestry,
animal husbandry, fisheries
and farming into an approach
that could more effectively
SCALING UP achieve progress across multiple

POLICIES,
SDG targets. 
FAO SUPPORT TO SCALING
UP AGROECOLOGY
PARTNERSHIPS Successfully scaling up
agroecology requires significant  Launch of the
AND commitment at the policy level,
a redirection of finances and
Scaling Up Agroecology
Initiative - Transforming Food
INVESTMENTS investment, more inclusive
and diversified food systems,
and Agriculture in Support of
the SDGs
CAN HELP strengthening the organizations of
producers, and new partnerships
With the backing of UN partners
and other committed actors,
SUPPORT between small-scale producers and FAO is proposing a Scaling Up

AGROECOLOGY.
entrepreneurs and the larger scale Agroecology Initiative, in line with
private sector actors. existing plans and initiatives such

24
RWANDA
A group of farmers
herding cattle for
grazing in Rugezi.
© G. Napolitano

as the 2030 Agenda, the UN Decade a collaborative spirit if the potential to share policy lessons, and to
of Family Farming, the Global of agroecology is to be achieved. collaborate in supporting and
Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth, To implement the Initiative, scaling up agroecology in the
the UN Rome-based Agencies members are set to sign a 10-year future. Beginning in 2014, the
collaboration on Home Grown joint work plan. global exchange on agroecology
School Meals and the Sustainable has involved more than 1 400
Food Systems Programme of the  A neutral space for participants from 170 countries
10-Year Framework for Programmes exchanging knowledge and (as of April 2018), bringing
on Sustainable Consumption and experiences on agroecology discussion of agroecology to a
Production Patterns. UN agencies FAO will continue to play a role in new level. FAO is committed to
and bodies, governments and non- bringing together a wide range of continuing to act as facilitator and to
state actors must come together in actors to learn from experiences, promote the benefits of agroecology.

25
FAO'S WORK ON AGROECOLOGY

WAY
FORWARD

VIET NAM
Dong Son, a farmer working in a dragon
fruit field. Since 1990, Viet Nam has
reduced hunger by more than 80 percent.
©FAO/Hoang Dinh Nam

FAO FACILITATES
 Supporting an environment
that allows new and innovative
 Supporting funds
and resources to
COOPERATION
governance structures to emerge mainstream agroecology AMONG
GOVERNMENTS
To take agroecology to the next To allow agroecology to
level, a solid governance structure flourish, funds need to be
is essential. Laws, regulations,
publicity awareness campaigns
mobilized to communities,
organizations and AND
and fiscal incentives are all part of
a framework that should cut across
countries to make
transformation happen. STAKEHOLDERS
different sectors and integrate the
whole value chain. Supporting the
FAO can play an important
role in mobilising funds
IN PROMOTING
development of public policies
that promote agroecology, FAO
and resources, connecting
donors with networks, and
AGROECOLOGY
facilitates cooperation among engaging the private sector POLICY AND
PRACTICE
countries with a solid governance by providing guidance
structure on in the area. on agroecology.

26
PUBLICATIONS
GENERAL FAO. 2016. Summary for decision-makers. of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests
FAO Regional symposia on agroecology. in the Context of National Food Security.
FAO. 2013. Food Wastage footprint: Rome. Rome.
Impact on Natural Resources. Summary FAO. 2016. The contributions of livestock
FAO. 2017. Report of the International
report. Rome. Symposium on Agroecology in China. species and breeds to ecosystem services.
FAO. 2014. Building a common vision Kunming, Yunnan, China, 29-31 Rome.
for sustainable food and agriculture – August 2016. Rome.
principles and approaches. Rome.
POLLINATORS
FAO. 2017. Report of the regional
FAO. 2017. The State of Food and symposium on agroecology for sustainable FAO. 2008. Rapid assessment of
Agriculture 2017. Leveraging food systems agriculture and food systems for Europe pollinators’ status. A contribution to the
and Central Asia. Budapest, Hungary, international initiative for the conservation
for inclusive rural transformation. Rome.
23-25 November 2016. Rome. and sustainable use of pollinators. Rome.
FAO. 2017. FAO Strategy on climate
FAO. 2016. A quantitative approach to
change. Rome. BIODIVERSITY the socio-economic valuation of pollinator-
friendly practices: a protocol for its use.
AGROECOLOGY SYMPOSIA FAO & CBD. 2016. Mainstreaming
ecosystem services and biodiversity into Rome
FAO. 2014. Final Report for the agricultural production and management VOLUNTARY GUIDELINES
International Symposium on Agroecology in East Africa. Technical guidance
for Food Security and Nutrition. Rome. document. Rome. FAO. 2005. Voluntary Guidelines to
support the progressive realization of the
FAO. 2015. Agroecology for Food FAO. 2009. International treaty on plant right to adequate food in the context of
Security and Nutrition Proceedings of the genetic resources for food and agriculture. national food security. Rome.
FAO International Symposium. 18-19 Rome.
September 2014, Rome, Italy. Rome. FAO. 2012. Voluntary Guidelines on the
(Available in English, French and
FORESTRY Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land,
Fisheries and Forests in the Context of
Spanish). FAO. 2014. The State of the World’s
National Food Security. Rome.
FAO. 2016. Final Report of the Regional Forests Genetic Resources. Rome.
Meeting on Agroecology in Latin America FAO. 2016. Voluntary guidelines for
FISHERIES AND AQUACULTURE Sustainable Soil Management. Rome.
and the Caribbean. Brasilia – Brazil, 24-16
FAO. 2016. The State of the World
June 2015. Rome. (Available in English MARKETS
and Spanish). Fisheries and Aquaculture 2016.
Contributing to food security and nutrition FAO. 2018. Constructing markets for
FAO. 2016. Report of the Regional for all. Rome. agroecology. Rome.
Meeting on Agroecology in sub-Saharan
Africa. Dakar, Senegal, 5-6 November LIVESTOCK & PASTORALISM [TOOLS/LINKS]
2015. Rome (Available in English and FAO. 2015. The Second Report on the FAO. Agroecology Knowledge Hub.
French). State of the World’s Animal Genetic Available at: http://www.fao.org/
FAO. 2016. Report on the Multi- Resources for Food and Agriculture. Rome. agroecology/en/
stakeholder consultation on agroecology FAO. 2016. Improving governance of FAO. Family Farming Knowledge
in Asia and the Pacific. FAO, Bangkok, pastoral lands. Implementing the Voluntary Platform. Available at: http://www.fao.
24-26 November 2015. Rome. Guidelines on the Responsible Governance org/family-farming/en/

27
FAO'S
WORK ON
AGROECOLOGY
A pathway
to achieving
the SDGs

Today’s food and agricultural systems have Agroecology offers a unique approach to meeting
succeeded in supplying large volumes of food to the needs of future generations while ensuring no
global markets, but there is categorical evidence one is left behind. With food producers at its heart,
that they cannot deliver sustainable development agroecology seeks to transform food and agriculture
for all. Almost three-quarters of the estimated systems, addressing the root causes of problems and
815 million hungry people in the world are providing holistic and long-term solutions based on
food producers who make their living from knowledge-sharing and innovation.
agriculture, fisheries and forestry. Deforestation,
water scarcity, biodiversity loss, soil depletion Featuring cases in different sectors and countries
and high levels of greenhouse gas emissions around the world, this publication introduces the
are among the major challenges faced by the agroecology approach to linking food, livelihoods
planet, as identified in the targets and goals of and natural resources, presents the 10 Elements of
I9021EN/1/03.18

the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Agroecology, and looks at ways of scaling up the
Malnutrition affects a third of the world, people-centred approach to ensure its potential
constituting a massive cost to health budgets in impact is fully realized, promising a brighter future
countries across the globe. for all.
©FAO, 2018

www.fao.org