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Agroecology the way forward

According to the UN's Special Rapporteur on the right to food, conventional farming is no longer the best option

Agroecology the way forward
Olivier De Schutter

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Small-scale farmers can double food production within ten years in critical regions through the use of ecological methods, according to a new report from the United Nations.

The report, "Agroecology and the right to food", was presented earlier this month by the Special Rapporteur before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The study recommends a fundamental shift towards agroecology in order to boost food production and improve the situation of the poorest.

“To feed 9bn people in 2050, we urgently need to adopt the most efficient farming techniques available,” said Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food and author of the report. “Today’s scientific evidence demonstrates that agroecological methods outperform the use of chemical fertilisers in boosting food production where the hungry live – especially in unfavorable environments.”

Agroecology is preferable to conventional farming, the report explained, as it enhances soil productivity and protects crops against pests by relying on the natural environment, including beneficial trees, plants, animals and insects.

“Conventional farming relies on expensive inputs, fuels climate change and is not resilient to climatic shocks," said Mr De Schutter. "It simply is not the best choice anymore today. A large segment of the scientific community now acknowledges the positive impacts of agroecology on food production, poverty alleviation and climate change mitigation – and this this is what is needed in a world of limited resources.

“We won’t solve hunger and stop climate change with industrial farming on large plantations. The solution lies in supporting small-scale farmers’ knowledge and experimentation, and in raising incomes of smallholders so as to contribute to rural development.”

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