But changes also need to be made on a larger scale. Some bodies recognise this. Faced with the growing social and environmental costs of industrial farming, the European Union adopted a New European Consensus for Development in June 2017. This commits the EU to: “Support agroecological practices and actions to reduce post-harvest losses and food waste, as well as to protect soils, conserve water resources, halt, prevent and reverse deforestation, and maintain biodiversity and healthy ecosystems.”
But opening up agroecological pathways to sustainable food systems in the EU is a major challenge. Radical changes in funding priorities and research agendas are necessary. Similarly, a total overhaul of overseas aid programmes is urgently needed to support crucial transitions to agroecology in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
However, this is not currently happening. Our recently published research shows that very little overseas aid is directed at agroecological research and development. Since 1 January 2010, no funds at all have been directed at or been committed to projects with the main focus on development or promotion of agroecological practices.
Source: Independent Co UK
We must move away from monoculture farming and build strong ecosystems with lots of biodiversity (Shutterstock)
It is true that minor funds have been directed at projects which promote resource efficiency in farming. But this is a very basic agroecological principle. Based on the most generous interpretation of available figures, our study shows for the first time that aid for agroecological projects is less than 5 per cent of aid given for agricultural purposes and less than 0.5 per cent of the total UK aid budget. By largely supporting industrial agriculture, UK aid priorities contribute very little to the transition towards global socio-ecological sustainability.
Despite the obscure nature of available information, it is reasonable to assume that there is a similar lack of funding for agroecology in the overseas aid priorities of other so-called developed countries. There is, after all, a chronic lack of internal investment in agroecology within these nations.
Business as usual may rhetorically no longer be an option in food and agriculture. But it will be, as usual, practically the only option as long as these stark funding asymmetries remain.
In April 2018, government representatives from around the world will travel to Rome to discuss how to scale up agroecology. This UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s International Symposium on Agroecology is a unique opportunity to rethink priorities for agricultural development worldwide. Among the many actions needed, we urgently need to see a substantial increase in public funding for agroecology – both within and between nations.
Nina Moeller is a Marie Curie research fellow at the University of Manchester and Michel Pimbert is a professor and director of the centre for agroecology, water and resilience at Coventry University. This article first appeared on The Conversation (theconversation.com)
Source: Independent Co UK