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BB59: Agroecology in the European agenda of sustainable development: Best practices - Paola Migliorini


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The Brussels Development Briefing n. 59 on “Agroecology for Sustainable Food Systems” organised by CTA, the European Commission/EuropeAid, the ACP Secretariat, CONCORD and IPES-FOOD was held on Wednesday 15 January 2020 (9h00-13h00) at the ACP Secretariat, Avenue Georges Henri 451, 1200 Brussels.
The briefing brought various perspectives and experiences on agroecological systems to support agricultural transformation. Experts presented trends and prospects for agroecological approaches and what it implies for the future of the food systems. Successes and innovative models in agroecology in different parts of the world and the lessons learned for upscaling them were also discussed.

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BB59: Agroecology in the European agenda of sustainable development: Best practices - Paola Migliorini

  1. 1. Alexander Wezel ISARA, Lyon, France Agroecology Europe Brussels Policy Briefing n. 59 15 Jan 2019, Brussels Agroecology in the European agenda of sustainable development: Best practices Paola Migliorini University of Gastronomic Science President of Agroecology Europe Vice-president IFOAM Agribiomediterraneo
  2. 2. Who we are?
  3. 3. Who we are Agroecology Europe, a European association to promote agroecology, was created in January 2016 in Belgium with the participation of 19 founders from 10 countries. Agroecology Europe intends to place agroecology high on the European agenda of sustainable development of farming and food systems. It wants to foster interactions between actors in sciences, practices and social movements, by facilitating knowledge sharing and action. It aims at the creation of an inclusive European community of professionals, practitioners, and more generally societal stakeholders in agroecology. Agroecology Europe is open to all individuals, groups and institutions and aims to define its agenda through their participatory engagement.
  4. 4. 1st New Board meeting 25-26 January 2018 Bra-Pollenzo (CN), Italy at University of Gastronomic Science
  5. 5. 23-25th March 2018 Symposium of Agroecology Rome, Italy at FAO
  6. 6. EPI Agri Innovation Summit: 500 persons!
  7. 7. AEEU Youth Network We are a group of young people from different countries, with a common strong interest in agroecology and a vibrant energy. The group is characterized by members with very heterogeneous backgrounds The network includes anyone who are interested in agroecology generally from the food production, distribution, social movement, education or political point of view.
  8. 8. Policy Workshop “European policy to support the transition towards sustainable food system through agroecology” 13 June 2019 in Brussels with AEEU Board members + Officials from DG AGRI, DG ENVI, JRC (Ispra) and Stakeholders from sister associations In the context of the Reform of the CAP, AEEU invited the participants to propose a way for future food and agricultural systems in Europe and to propose a vision on policy instruments for stimulating the transition towards agroecological systems.
  9. 9. Current status of the network 123 people from 35 countries all over the world AEEU Youth Network
  10. 10. Vision of the AEEU Youth Network Inspire and empower young people, stimulate bottom-up approaches Inspire and empower Create a network of young people from different backgrounds and skills setNetwork Connect young agroecologists to external partners and potential future employersConnect Facilitate the dissemination of knowledge and practices on Agroecology to a larger scaleFacilitate
  11. 11. What is agroecology?
  12. 12. 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 1928 1930 1932 1934 1936 1938 1940 1942 1944 1946 1948 1950 1952 1954 1956 1958 1960 1962 1964 1966 1968 1970 1972 1974 1976 1978 1980 1982 1984 1986 1988 1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 Year Numberofpublications Total n=696 97 2008 2009 2010 Number of publications using the word “agroecology” or “agroecological” in the title or in the author keywords 1965, first book “Agroecology” 1990 2000198019501928 History of Agroecology (Wezel and Soldat 2009, International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability)
  13. 13. Our understanding of AE Agroecology is considered jointly as a science, a practice and a social movement. It encompasses the whole food system from the soil to the organization of human societies. It fosters interactions between actors in science, practice and movements, by facilitating knowledge sharing and action As a science, it gives priority to action research, holistic and participatory approaches, and transdisciplinarity that is inclusive of different knowledge systems. As a practice, it is based on sustainable use of local renewable resources, local farmers’ knowledge and priorities, wise use of biodiversity to provide ecosystem services and resilience, and solutions that provide multiple benefits (environmental, economic, social) from local to global. As a movement, it defends smallholders and family farming, farmers and rural communities, food sovereignty, local and short food supply chains, diversity of local seeds and breeds, healthy and quality food. Agroecology Europe (2017)
  14. 14. Principles of agroecology
  15. 15. The principles of agroecology Sustainable agricultural production and food systems 1. Recycling 6. Synergy5. Biodiversity 4. Animal health 3. Soil health 2. Input reduction 7. Economic diversification 12. Land and natural resource governance 11. Connectivity 10. Fairness 9. Social values and diets 8. Co-creation of knowledge 13. Participation (HLPE 2019)slide by courtesy of A. Wezel
  16. 16. Agroecology Scientific Discipline Movement Plot/Field approach Agroecosystem ecology Environ- mentalism Rural development Approach/Practice Techniques Ecology of food system Social/Political movement for sustainable agriculture & Food sovereignty Education – Action learning and research (Modified from Wezel et al. 2009, Agronomy for Sustainable Development: Agroecological practices for Sustainable Agriculture: Principles, Applications, and Making the Transition) Main elements of agroecology System thinking approach - transdisciplinary Principles
  17. 17. Movements
  18. 18. • Movement of peasants, indigenous people and agricultural workers, farmers groups, e.g. Via Campesina • Co-creation of knowledge • Campesino-to-Campesino exchange Demand on food sovereignty and autonomy for the local populations
  19. 19. Agroecological practices  Practices that relate to nature based solutions mentioned among needed innovations in agriculture (EU CAP communication 2017)
  20. 20. All this The goal: Sustainable farming and food systems Adapted from A. Wezel
  21. 21. Management of landscape elements Integration of semi-natural landscape elements at field, farm, and landscape scales Tillage management Direct seeding into living cover crops or mulch, non invertion/reduced tillage Crop choice, spatial distribution, and temporal succession Agroforestry, Integration with livestock, Intercropping and relay intercropping, Diversified rotations, Cultivar choice & mixture Crop fertilisation Manure and compost, organic fertilisation, Biofertilizer Scale of application of agroecological practice Field scale Cropping system scale Landscape scale Weed, pest, and disease management Natural enemies, Biological pest control, organic pesticides Allelopathic plants Crop irrigation Drip irrigation Agroecological cropping practices (modified from Wezel et al. 2014, Agronomy for Sustainable Development)
  22. 22. Scientific discipline
  23. 23. Current issues and debates in the sector
  24. 24. Major current agroecology research topics and keywords (Wezel et al. 2018, Sustainability)
  25. 25. Major current agroecology research topics and keywords (Wezel et al. 2018, Sustainability)
  26. 26. • Systems approach research in farming and food systems (environmental, social, political, economic aspects) • Sharing best farmers’ practices (co-creation of knowledge, horizontal knowledge exchange) • Upscaling agroecological practices and their implementation • Alternatives to pesticides (e.i. glifosate) • Economic performance with agroecology • Climate change adaptation with agroecological practices and farm resilience • Alternative food systems and value-based supply chains • Action learning in education and training Potential research priorities  Alignment of funding would be very important
  27. 27. Effects of adopting agroecological practices on socio-economic indicators (D’Annolfo et al. 2017) Economic performance of agroecology
  28. 28. (van der Ploeg et al. 2019) Economic performance of agroecology
  29. 29. (van der Ploeg et al. 2019) Economic performance of agroecology Theoretical framework Agroecology: favors the creation of wealth and the generation of comparable incomes, if not more than those obtained from conventional agriculture This potential is combination of : (1) the higher ratio between Value Added and the Gross Value of Production (VA/GVP) realized in agroecological production (2) low, volatile and decreasing off-farm prices and steadily increasing costs (a situation often summarized as ‘the squeeze on agriculture’).
  30. 30. Decreasing costs Increasing revenue Costs Revenue Benefits Economic strategy of Agroecology Peeters 2017 Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars! Oscar Wilde Conventional Agroecological
  31. 31. (van der Ploeg et al. 2019) Economic performance of agroecology Value Added (VA) = wealth creation for the nation VA = GVP – tot Cost (CI – D) (1) GVP (Gross Value of Production) = value of annual production (sold, saved, self- contained) CI = Intermediary & Variable costs (goods and services < year) D = depreciation (equipment and materials > year) Agricultural Income (AI) = what's left in the farmer's pocket AI = VA -/+ Social Redistributions = (2) VA - Bank interest - Rent paid for the land - Workers' wages - Taxes + State subsidies Conv. Ag. = few or no employees, weak interests (low investments, small size), little or no subsidy in certain productions (grapes, vegetables, etc.) dependence on CI and D and debt (investments in machinery)
  32. 32. (van der Ploeg et al. 2019) Economic performance of agroecology Work productivity: VA/LU = VA/GVP ∗ GVP/LU (3) VA = GVP - Ct Ct = total Cost (variable costs + depreciation) GVP = Gross Value of Production LU = Labour Unit There is an inverse relationship between VA/GVP and GVP/LU To increase GVP/LU Enlarging the total production per unit of labour force investments in new technologies, higher input (economies of scale, standardization processes and products) variable costs per object of labour will rise and VA/object of labour will go down. Conventional Ag: new varieties and breeds, powerful machinery, chemical inputs, upstream chain dependence, subsidies dependence To increase VA/GVP search of an optimal equilibrium of basic resources (labour, buildings, machinery, cropland and pasture and livestock).
  33. 33. (van der Ploeg et al. 2019) Economic performance of agroecology The interrelations between VA/GVP and GVP/LU
  34. 34. (van der Ploeg et al. 2019) Economic performance of agroecology To increase VA / GVP in Agroecology 1. Increase % of internal inputs locally available resources (fodder, seeds, animals) and optimises their contribution to maintaining ecosystem services 2. Diversify (mixed farming) Economies of scope and relations (and not of scale), low CI, intercropping, agroforestry, mixed grazing = functional synergies for positive interactions 3. Focus and increase use-efficiency of internal resources and improve their quality • Seeds, fodder, cooperative machinery (lower costs, diversity), etc. • Fossil energy reduction, work and skills exchanges, knowledge generation 4. Focus on labour in farming to substitute external for internal resources (1), to run a ‘multi-product farm’ (2) and search for and realize synergies (3), requires a very particular type of know-how and way of working Remunerate work and not the bank! 5. New alliances between farmers and consumers Resource exchanges (less dependence on markets), new sales markets, lower volatility of sales prices, better sales prices
  35. 35. Transition to sustainable food systems with agroecology
  36. 36. Level 5: Build a new global food system, based on participation, localness, fairness, and justice Level 4: Reconnecting the two most important parts of the food system - consumers and producers, through the development of alternative food networks Level 3: Redesign the agroecosystem so that it functions on the basis of a new set of ecological processes that provide system resistance Level 2: Substitution of conventional inputs and practices with alternatives Level 1: Increase input use efficiency, reducing the use of costly, scarce, or environmentally damaging inputs TransformationalIncremental FoodsystemAgroecosystem (Gliessman 2007) Food system transformation level and transition pathways Agroecological practices Agroecological practices Conversion to organic agriculture, AE practices (no till, diversified rotations, agroforestry, biological pest control, intercropping) Short supply chains, value-based supply chains, alternative food systems, small/medium scale farmers access to local/regional markets systems with fresh products Fair trade agreements and markets, non-power concentrations in agri-food sector, circular economy slide by courtesy of A. Wezel
  37. 37. THANK YOU!