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Cultivating change with agroecology and organic agriculture in the tropics: Bridging science and policy for sustainable production systems

Dietemann, Lauren; Kemper, Laura; Kanner, Elsa and Huber, Beate (Eds.) (2024) Cultivating change with agroecology and organic agriculture in the tropics: Bridging science and policy for sustainable production systems. Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL, Frick, Switzerland.

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Document available online at: https://www.fibl.org/en/shop-en/2000-tropics-policy-dossier


Despite the technological advances in food systems since the green revolution, current global agricultural and food systems are not meeting the world’s needs. Although food availability has increased substantially, the number of people suffering from hunger and malnutrition has remained steady in the last 40 years, coupled with a surge in obesity and diet-related diseases. Additionally, current food systems have contributed to extensive deterioration of land, water, and ecosystems; depletion of biodiversity; and enduring livelihood pressures for farmers. Nowhere are such challenges more evident than in the tropics, where disproportionate food insecurity, malnutrition and impacts of climate change pose significant threats.
This myriad of challenges in current food production systems is projected to worsen if we continue with “business as usual” due to the increasing impacts of climate change, demographic shifts, political instability, conflicts, and heightened demands on natural resources. Indeed, the current food system paradigm has proven unable to support the people and natural resources it depends on, making it a threat to its own existence. To address these pressing issues, it is imperative to explore alternative approaches which show promise in transforming food systems and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
In this context, agroecology and organic (AE/O) agriculture present promising alternatives supported by a growing body of evidence. AE/O systems that implement holistic farm management, going beyond simply substituting synthetic agrochemicals with AE/O alternatives, show promise in achieving yields and incomes that are on par with conventional. In fact, AE/O systems have been shown to improve household income and livelihood resilience compared to conventional in the tropics.
The hidden costs of the current global food system amount to around 10 percent of global GDP. The transition to AE/O systems offers a pathway to lower costs to the public by increasing climate adaptation and mitigation, increasing resilience to external shocks, improving food security and nutrition and lowering exposure to harmful pesticides. Thus, investments towards AE/O are not only a moral imperative but an economic win. Beyond these benefits, AE/O can have additional environmental benefits that clearly outweigh conventional systems, including preserving biodiversity and improving soil health and water quality.
Despite notable progress, a transition towards sustainable food systems requires increased attention, understanding, and action. Transition to AE/O systems requires long-term funding models that prioritise a holistic approach, and value chain development that supports fair pricing and strengthens the connection between consumers and farmers. Equitable access to essential resources, i.e. AE/O inputs, mechanisation, credit and land, is imperative. To empower farmers to transition to AE/O farming, they need improved access to farmers’ organisations, capacity development and market access. Transdisciplinary and participatory education and research must also be advanced to facilitate knowledge co-creation and the adoption of optimal local solutions.
Furthermore, engagement programmes should aim to improve food literacy of citizens. Initiatives to accelerate the transition must carefully consider social and cultural values, empowering women, marginalised groups and youth. Finally, decisions and policies must be coordinated and informed by close participation with relevant stakeholders, including those that incentivise AE/O agriculture.

EPrint Type:Report
Keywords:sustainable agriculture, agroecology, organic agriculture, diversification, policy briefs, Abacus, FiBL6518802, Africa Knowledge Hubs GIZ
Agrovoc keywords:
sustainable agriculture
organic agriculture
policy briefs
Subjects: Food systems > Food security, food quality and human health
Food systems > Policy environments and social economy
Research affiliation: Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > International > Agriculture in the Tropics and Subtropics
Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > International > Policy & sector development > Politikentwicklung
Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Sustainability > Agroecology
Related Links:https://www.fibl.org/en/shop-en/2000-tropics-policy-dossier
Deposited By: Dietemann, Lauren
ID Code:52257
Deposited On:17 Jan 2024 14:05
Last Modified:06 Feb 2024 14:15
Document Language:English
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed

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