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DIVERSIFOOD Final Congress - Session 1 - Diversity and sustainability within food systems - Michel Pimbert

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"Transforming research for diverse and sustainable food systems: a paradigm shift for multi-actor and transdisciplinary research" - the Keynote Speech by Michel Pimbert, Executive Director of the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience, UK. The DIVERSIFOOD Final Congress was held in Rennes on 10-12 December 2018.

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DIVERSIFOOD Final Congress - Session 1 - Diversity and sustainability within food systems - Michel Pimbert

  1. 1. Transforming research for diverse and sustainable food systems: a paradigm shi8 for mul9-actor transdisciplinary research Professor Michel Pimbert Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience Coventry University, UK
  2. 2. Food and farming is more then ever unsustainable • All relevant biophysical indicators are turning nega5ve, fast, steeply, dangerously • The emerging context is beyond human experience • Costs of mi5ga5on, adapta5on, remedia5on are rising sharply
  3. 3. Recent policy support for agroecology • IAASTD advocates reducing vulnerability of global food system through locally based innovations and agro-ecological approaches (IAASTD, 2008). • SCAR = EU Standing Committee on Agricultural Research. Highest priority should be given to ‘low-input high-output systems - integrating historical knowledge and agroecological principles that use nature’s capacity and models nature’s system flows (SCAR FEG, 2011). • UN FAO – after over four years of international dialogue, two international symposia and six major regional consultations, the FAO announced its Scaling Up Agroecology Initiative in April 2018.
  4. 4. From Uniformity to Diversity Key approaches: • Agro-ecology – mimicking natural ecosystems • Eco-literacy and eco- design/permaculture/bio- mimicry • Models of circular economy that combine food and energy production with water and waste management along rural-urban continuum.
  5. 5. Incremental and transforma/ve agroecological transi/ons to sustainable food systems (Gliessman, 2014) • Level 1 practices focus on increasing efficiency • Level 2 efforts substitute less-damaging inputs and practices • Level 3 efforts to re-design and diversify farming systems in image of nature • Level 4 systems reinforce connections between producers and consumers within territories • Level 5 systems fully develop and integrate the agroecological practices of Level 3 and the alternative market relationships of Level 4
  6. 6. Agroecology enhances Dietary Diversity By regenera)ng and enhancing gene2c, species and ecosystem diversity & complexity on farms and the wider landscape, agroecological prac)ces increase the availability, quality and access to dietary diversity in food chains & food webs
  7. 7. Diversifying crop varieties and livestock breeds in agroecosystems and the wider landscape • Evolutionary plant breeding of wheat based on a diverse & complex mixture of varieties or lines. This complexity renders the whole population resilient. Whatever the problem, there seems always to be some components of the population able to deal with it. • Links with artisan bakers
  8. 8. Functional biodiversity to reduce pest & disease outbreaks, while simultaneously enhancing dietary diversity on offer • Shropshire sheep not only control weeds in commercial apple and pear orchards in northern Europe, they also help limit the spread of fungal diseases by eating fallen leaves
  9. 9. Enhancing the conserva/on of soil, water and trees on the farm and neighbouring landscape • By building terraces, swales, tree belts, hedges and ponds to conserve soil and water, farmers’ individual and collective action generate ecological complexity and heterogeneity at different scales. Øthis creates habitats and micro- environments for wild edible species to co-exist in agroecosystems and human- managed landscapes.
  10. 10. • In Poland, harvest of wild bush and berry fruits in woodlands e.g. 30 000 tonnes/year harvest of wild Vaccinium myr+llus • The mean use of wild foods by agricultural and forager communi>es in 22 countries of Asia and Africa (36 studies) is 90–100 species per loca>on. • Farmers harvest these wild foods from environments they have co-created with nature: collec>vely managed watersheds, common lands, tree planta>ons and woodlands, field edges and organically manured farm plots
  11. 11. Agroecological markets for dietary diversity Agroecological approaches build alternative food networks through forms of economic exchange that reinforce connections between producers and consumers within territories, – re-localising production & consumption ØPublic procurement of locally produced agroecological/organic foods promotes access to more dietary diversity in schools, hospitals and public canteens in Italy, Austria, Denmark and Brazil
  12. 12. Agroecology and local food initiatives are growing, - creating markets for farmers • Local Food Systems - production, processing, trade and consumption of food occur in a defined reduced geographical area • Short Food Supply Chain - the number of intermediaries is minimised, the ideal being a direct contact between the producer and the consumer.
  13. 13. Study of 84 different SFSCs in Europe (Kneafsey et al, 2013. European Commission) • CSA and AMAPs • farm shops, pick-your-own schemes… • farmers' markets, shops owned by farmers, farm- based delivery schemes, or through one single trade intermediary • Farmer link with public procurement scheme • Sell mainly to local and /or regional markets • Products traded: fresh fruit and vegetables, animal products (meat, dairy), beverages • Urban-driven schemes have grown rapidly in recent years in comparison with rural SFSCs
  14. 14. Environmental impacts of Short Food Chains • Agroecological production methods: reduced GHG involved in production; reduced pesticide use; reduced soil and water pollution; enhanced biodiversity; minimum processing (reduces GHG in processing & storage) • Local: reduced GHG emissions associated with transportation • Seasonal: Reduced GHG emissions involved in storage
  15. 15. Study of 84 different Short Food Chains in EU (European Commission, 2013) Social impacts • Closer connection between farmers and consumers • Development of trust and social bonds - a sense of community and of 'living- together • Behavioral changes: eating habits with public health effect (reduced obesity) Economic impacts • A higher share of value added is retained locally by producers – economic regeneration • Higher multiplier effect on local economies than long chains, with impacts also on maintaining local employment, particularly in rural areas
  16. 16. Re-localizing produc1on and consump1on to exit unfair commodity markets – a norma1ve vision • Re-embedding agriculture in Nature, relying on func6onal biodiversity & internal resources, - including rediscovery of local assets • Farmers distance themselves from markets supplying inputs (hybrid and GM seeds, agri-chemicals….) • Farmers diversify outputs and market outlets • Rebuild the infrastructure of local food systems (e.g. local mills, abaDoirs, community food processing units, micro-dairy….) in territories • Trade rules that protect local economies (e.g. local food procurement)
  17. 17. Transitions to Diverse and Sustainable Food Systems Through Agroecology Six transition domains strongly shape agroecological practices, and are determined by governance Need to focus on the wider social, political and economic context that shapes food system transitions through agroecology CAWR and FAO, 2019.
  18. 18. Contested Agroecology Dominant agri-food model • Agroecology as part of Sustainable Intensifica6on and Climate Smart Agriculture (e.g. co- existence with GMOs) • Emphasis on science • Conforms to produc6vist model and ‘business as usual’ in food, farming and development Food sovereignty and other possible worlds • Agroecology as a science, prac6ce and social movement • Emphasis on peasant agroecology as part of food sovereignty • Transforma6on of dominant agri-food regime
  19. 19. Transforma)ve Agroecology: a paradigm shi7 for mul)-actor transdisciplinary research
  20. 20. Agroecology builds on the knowledge of farmers, indigenous peoples, fishers, and pastoralists Four areas of peoples’ knowledge important for agroecologists who value and build on farmers’ knowledge and skills: 1. Local taxonomies – wo/men’s detailed knowledge and classification of different types of soils, plants, animals, and ecosystems. 2. Ecological knowledge - climate, winds, topography, micro-climates, plant communities, and local ecology
  21. 21. Four areas of farmers’ knowledge important for agroecology 3. Knowledge of farming practices - the intentional mixing of different crop and livestock species & varieties to stabilise yields, reduce the incidence of diseases and pest attacks on the farm, and enhance resilience to change 4. Experimental knowledge that stems from farmers’ active seed selection and plant breeding work which has generated myriads of locally adapted crop varieties – embodiments of the experimental knowledge, creativity and labour of generations of wo/men farmers.
  22. 22. Peoples’ knowledge is embedded in - and shapes - landscapes and agroecosystems
  23. 23. Crafts(wo)man • Producer, creator, maker, inventor, generator, breeder, discoverer, creative worker….. • Artist, builder, architect, engineer, artisan, experimenter…
  24. 24. Agroecological Research & Development • Agroecological solutions are not delivered top down. They are developed through respectful intercultural dialogue between scientists and farmers/citizens, - building on peoples’ local priorities, knowledge and capacity to innovate • Shift from a transfer of technology model of R&D to a decentralised, bottom up, and participatory process of knowledge creation tailored to unique local contexts in rural and urban areas • Knowledge intensive, transdisciplinary and based on principles of cognitive justice
  25. 25. Cognitive justice – recognizing different knowledge systems and their right to exist Cognitive justice is ‘the constitutional right of different systems of knowledge to exist as part of a dialogue and debate’ This implies the continued existence of ‘the ecologies that would let these forms of knowledge survive and thrive not in a preservationist sense but as active practices’ (Visvanathan, 2005).
  26. 26. Cognitive justice and participatory research depend on two complementary approaches: • democra8zing science and technology research, with increased funding for public research and transdisciplinary approaches that include peoples’ knowledge • de-ins8tu8onalizing research for autonomous learning and ac8on, with an emphasis on strengthening horizontal networks of grassroots research and innova;on as well as ci;zen oversight over the produc;on of knowledge.
  27. 27. Democratizing Public Research and Transforming Ways of Knowing for Agroecology
  28. 28. An alterna)ve vision for food & agricultural research Ci#zens are viewed as knowledgeable and ac#ve actors with the ability to be centrally involved in both the ‘upstream’ choice of strategic research priori#es and the design of innova#ons, as well as in their ‘downstream’ implementa#on, spread and regula#on.
  29. 29. Farmer/citizen participation throughout the research cycle to expand agroecology and knowledge democracy: • the framing of national policies for science and development • the choice of upstream strategic priorities for R&D, including decisions on budget allocations by funding bodies • during scientific and technological research – the production and validation of knowledge in the natural and social sciences, as well as the arts and humanities • in evaluating research results and impacts, including risk and sustainability assessments.
  30. 30. Democratising Public Research and Transforming Knowledge for Agroecology • Increase funding for R&D • New roles and ways of working for researchers • A shift to transdisciplinary and participatory research that respects and includes farmer & peoples’ knowledge • Organisational transformation • Protecting public research from corporate control and censorship
  31. 31. Increased public funding for agroecological R&D USA in the USA, a recent analysis of funding by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) showed that projects with an emphasis of agroecology based on agroecosystem diversifica@on represented only 0.6 to 1.5% of the enAre USDA Research, Extension and Economics budget UK Funding for agroecological research is less than 1.5% of the total UK budget for agricultural R&D. Since 2010, agroecological research projects received less than 0.1% of the UK’s budget for official overseas aid on food and farming in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
  32. 32. Priority funding for Agroecology Research and Education • Worldwide: urgent need for more public funding for agroecological R&D - including for the creation of new research posts and expertise • Substantial increase in agroecology training courses in formal and informal education institutions
  33. 33. Professional reversals and organizational transformation • Emphasis on training of researchers in par1cipatory skills as well as enabling a7tudes and behavior needed to learn from farmers/ci1zens (mutual listening, respect, gender sensi6vity, empathy etc.) and create safe spaces for par6cipatory research • Rewards and incen1ves to engage in power equalizing transdiciplinary research with farmers & ci6zens • Transforming organisa1onal cultures and opera1onal procedures: shiCs from hierarchical and rigidly bureaucra6c structures to ‘flat’, flexible, and responsive research organiza6ons
  34. 34. Protecting public research against privatization and corporate control • Job security in university educa1on and research • Safeguards against the corrup1on of science by corpora1ons • Re-inven1ng research ins1tu1ons for the common good through alliances between researchers and ci1zens
  35. 35. Expanding farmer-led agroecological research • Strengthening self-managed research and grassroots innovation in horizontal farmer- citizen networks
  36. 36. Self-managed research and grassroots innovation: many examples ØCitizens victims of pollution developing a peoples’ epidemiology in Europe ØGlobal open source community developing new computer software ØAmateur gardeners mapping links between weather and phenology of plants and animals in UK ØHorizontal networks of farmers and citizens producing knowledge in fields, workshops, villages and ‘living campuses’
  37. 37. Horizontal grassroots networks producing knowledge and innovations ØCampesino a campesino movements in Central America and Cuba Ø Community-based Farmer Field Schools (FFS) in Indonesia ØMST agroecology schools in Brazil ØRéseau Semences Paysannes (Italy, France…) ØMillet Network of India ØFarm Hack (USA, UK) et L’ Atelier Paysan (France) ØURGENCI the international network for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
  38. 38. Self-managed research and innova3on for agroecology: key processes • Horizontal networks and peer-to-peer decentralized knowledge produc5on & exchange in rural and urban areas • Cri5cal adult educa5on – e.g. Paolo Freire inspired pedagogies for Farmer Field Schools
  39. 39. Self-managed ways of knowing for agroecology transitions: key processes • Dialogo de saberes – dialogue of different knowledges and ways of knowing • Production of practical and political knowledge
  40. 40. Self-managed ways of knowing for agroecology transitions: key processes • Extended peer review to validate knowledge • Greater farmer & citizen control over the dissemination of knowledge
  41. 41. Strengthening local organisa/ons to scale out grassroots agroecological R&D • Local adaptive management of environment • People’s access to land and food • Federations, networks and organized policy influence
  42. 42. Mul$-scale networks of local organisa$ons §Local and regional coali-ons of food producers & consumers §Federa-ons of indigenous peoples §Via Campesina §Global social movements
  43. 43. Grassroots R&D system for agroecology and sustainable food systems
  44. 44. The bigger picture: time and material security are pre-requisites for democratizing research • Without people and farmers on the land there is no par2cipa2on and co-inquiry possible • Deep policy changes needed to reverse economic genocide of farmers and give more material security to farmers – cf. French inter-ministerial study: Départs précoces en agriculture. Analyse d’une situa6on peu connue (ASP, 2016)
  45. 45. French inter-ministerial study: Départs précoces en agriculture. Analyse d’une situa6on peu connue (ASP, 2016) • 10 000 farmers per year leave farming before reaching re4rement age – i.e. one third of total number of farmers who quit farming every year • Young people unable to enter farming or find it hard to do so • Re4red farmers receive a very small pension
  46. 46. Reasons for leaving farming in France (ASP, 2016) • Banks refuse to give loans; lack of cash; inability to reimburse money borrowed for farm investments • Impacts of mul;ple crisis (climate change, illnesses, market vola;lity….) “Farm enterprises are less and less able to absorb impacts of two consecu4ve years of crisis” (ASP) • Isola;on (geographical and social); lack of recogni;on; insufficient income for long day’s work • Suicides – third cause of farmer death aHer cancer and cardio- vascular problems.
  47. 47. The bigger picture: .me and material security are pre-requisites for democra.zing research • Women and men need free time for democratic deliberations, citizenship, and practice of the art of participatory democracy
  48. 48. Leveling the economic playing field for participation and democratic control over research • a guaranteed and uncondi-onal minimum income for all • a significant drop in -me spent in wage-work and a fairer sharing of jobs and free -me between men and women • the re-localisa-on of plural economies that combine both market oriented ac-vi-es with non-monetary forms of economic exchange based on barter, reciprocity, gi> rela-ons, and solidarity
  49. 49. Leveling the economic playing field for par5cipa5on and democra5c control over research • a tax on financial specula/ons, - to fund the regenera/on of local economies and ecologies • the use of alterna/ve local currencies to regenerate assets and retain wealth in re-territorialised economies • a shi: from globalised, centralised and linear systems to re-localized circular models that mimic natural cycles and link sustainable food and energy produc/on with water and waste management in rural and urban areas.
  50. 50. Transitions to Diverse and Sustainable Food Systems Through Agroecology Six transi*on domains strongly shape agroecological prac*ces, and are determined by governance Need to focus on the wider social, poli*cal and economic context that shapes food system transi*ons through agroecology CAWR and FAO, 2019
  51. 51. Merci Thank you

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