Today the world is facing many-sided challenges related to food systems. We need an urgent transition to production and consumption systems that allow us live in harmony with nature. Agroecology is an approach and a social movement that presents practical methods for a transition to a food system in which safe and nutritious food is produced with nature-friendly methods and made available to everyone.
Agroecology aims balance food systems to be ecologically sensitive, economically practicable and socially fair. It encourages social justice, nourishes cultural identities and enhances rural life.
As a science, agroecology analyses interactions among different components of agricultural ecosystems. As a practice, it forms resilient and stable production systems that protects and enhances natural entities.
The two main components of an agroecological food system are small scale farming and short supply chains. Practices of ecological farming include many approaches like permaculture, organic, biodynamic, or regenerative agriculture. Short supply chains include community supported agriculture (CSA), food cooperatives and farmers’ markets, which enable face to face interaction between producers and consumers and localize food production and distribution.
The agroecology approach which encourages these production and distribution methods presents solutions to many important issues related to food safety, climate crisis, ecosystem restoration, social justice, gender equality, hunger and malnutrition. Agroecology, as a result of efforts of peasant organizations, mainly La Via Campesina, and other NGOs, is now being supported by UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
According to FAO’s statistics, more than 90% of the farms in the world belong to individuals and families, depending on domestic labor. Family farms form 70–80% of the total farming land and produce 80% of the world’s food. According to FAO, small scale family farming is the most important component of food production in both developed and developing countries and has environmentally and culturally strategic importance (www.fao.org/family-farming-2014). Family farming:
- is the main contributor to the food safety of the planet, by the diversity of products it supplies,
- supports the traditional diets and provides balanced nutrition for people,
- supports for agricultural biodiversity and sustainable use of natural assets,
- enhances local economies if supported by social policies.