This article is about the Queen, Agroecology. Here, I touch upon the essential beauty of the balanced (agricultural) world with rich biodiversity, where nature takes care of itself. This is the exact world we wish to re-create in currently confused agroecosystems. To re-create and further nurture it, the digital tools we build today need to follow certain strategy, to provide beyond sustainable future for tomorrow and for many tomorrows to come.
Digital tools should follow agroecological principles for creating infinitely sustainable world of Crop Protection.
AGROECOLOGY is a model for a healthy agriculture of the future.
What is agroecology?
Agroecology applies ecological concepts to the design and management of sustainable agricultural production systems. It has been around for almost 100 years as a scientific discipline; however, agroecological practices have been used for much longer around the world. Nowadays, there is a global recognition of agroecology as a model for agricultural policy and practice. The High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE) of the World Committee on Food Security defines agroecology as follows:
From a scientific and technical perspective, agroecology applies ecological concepts and principles to food and farming systems, focusing on the interactions between microorganisms, plants, animals, humans and the environment, to foster sustainable agricultural development to make sure food security and nutrition for all, now and in the future.
Agroecology is a particularly important and promising approach for family farmers and other small-holder and medium scale agricultural producers who are vital stewards of biodiversity, the environment and food security. Agroecology, practiced by family farmers and small-holder food producers, has been found to have the potential to contribute to many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Researchers, policy-makers and civil society organizations at national and international levels are converging around to consider how to scale up agroecology in the transition towards sustainable food systems.
Benefits of Agroecology
There is growing evidence that agroecology can produce comparable or superior yields at lower cost with greater profitability sustaining more diverse and nutritious diets than other production systems and regenerate the natural basis of agriculture.
Ecologically, these systems are low-impact, often regenerative of biodiversity, soils and the environment, in contrast to highly degrading forms of external input, i.e. intensive agriculture. Through the minimal use of fossil fuels and high-energy (chemical) external inputs, as well as sequestering carbon, agroecology can also contribute to climate change mitigation. The complex adaptive systems in agroecology are also highly resilient to flooding, hurricanes, pests and drought.
Agricultural producers who use agroecological practices such as crop diversification, maintaining local genetic diversity, animal integration, soil organic management, water conservation and harvesting are more resistant to ecological disasters than monocropping.
The French government made agroecology the central part of their agricultural policy, where describes agroecology as having triples performance:
- Economic advantages, improving yield and efficiency (especially for small-medium family farms).
- Societal, beneficial to society at large including health and nutritional benefits.
There is a body of literature indicating that agroecology has significant potential to address many of the problems faced by agriculture and food systems around the globe. Between 2014 and 2017, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation has facilitated a global dialogue on agroecology, bringing together more than 1400 participants from 170 countries in six regional symposia, taking the political debate about agroecology to a new level. At the October 2018 COAG meeting – one of the highest governing bodies of FAO – 192 members of FAO adopted a resolution to ask that FAO develop action plans with partners to scale up agroecology around the world: Hungary, Switzerland, Italy, Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia, Senegal, Kenya, Algeria, Mexico, China, Japan, with the French government being at the forefront. Additionally, France has a dedicated research program led by their national research institute INRA and CIRAD on agroecology.
Using agroecology as an approach which takes into account natural ecosystems, uses local knowledge to plant a diversity of crops that boost the sustainability of the farming system as a whole – it is possible to envision the healthy, sustainable world of tomorrow.
Agricultural technologies we create today must be built around agroecological principles.
In this way, ag-tech will support and not dis-harmonize the ecosystems.
The Future is Smart!
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Dr Dragana Vukasinovic, Founder and CEO @ Fauna Smart Technologies