UN Report: Agroecology Can Double Food Production in 10 Years

Michael Burns michael at fingerlakespermaculture.org
Tue Mar 8 15:33:46 EST 2011

From: "Elizabeth Henderson" <elizabethhenderson13 at GMAIL.COM>



*8 March 2011 *

*Agroecology Can Double Food Production in 10 Years, says new UN report*

GENEVA, 8 March 2011 – Small-scale farmers can double food production within
10 years in critical regions by using ecological methods, a new UN report*
shows. Based on an extensive review of the recent scientific literature, the
study calls for a fundamental shift towards agroecology as a way to boost
food production and improve the situation of the poorest.

“To feed 9 billion people in 2050, we urgently need to adopt the most
efficient farming techniques available,” says 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 fertilizers in boosting food production where the hungry
live -- especially in unfavorable environments.”

Agroecology applies ecological science to the design of agricultural systems
that can help put an end to food crises and address climate-change and
poverty challenges. It enhances soils productivity and protects the crops
against pests by relying on the natural environment such as beneficial
trees, plants, animals and insects.

“To date, agroecological projects have shown an average crop yield increase
of 80% in 57 developing countries, with an average increase of 116% for all
African projects,” De Schutter says. “Recent projects conducted in 20
African countries demonstrated a doubling of crop yields over a period of
3-10 years.”

“Conventional farming relies on expensive inputs, fuels climate change and
is not resilient to climatic shocks. It simply is not the best choice
anymore today,” De Schutter stresses. “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. Malawi, a country
that launched a massive chemical fertilizer subsidy program a few years ago,
is now implementing agroecology, benefiting more than 1.3 million of the
poorest people, with maize yields increasing from 1 ton/ha to 2-3 tons/ha.”

The report also points out that projects in Indonesia, Vietnam and
Bangladesh recorded up to 92 % reduction in insecticide use for rice,
leading to important savings for poor farmers. “Knowledge came to replace
pesticides and fertilizers. This was a winning bet, and comparable results
abound in other African, Asian and Latin American countries,” the
independent expert notes.

“The approach is also gaining ground in developed countries such as United
States, Germany or France,” he said. “However, despite its impressive
potential in realizing the right to food for all, agroecology is still
insufficiently backed by ambitious public policies and consequently hardly
goes beyond the experimental stage.”

The report identifies a dozen of measures that States should implement to
scale up agroecological practices.

“Agroecology is a knowledge-intensive approach. It requires public policies
supporting agricultural research and participative extension services,” De
Schutter says. “States and donors have a key role to play here. Private
companies will not invest time and money in practices that cannot be
rewarded by patents and which don’t open markets for chemical products or
improved seeds.”

The Special Rapporteur on the right to food also urges States to support
small-scale farmer’s organizations, which demonstrated a great ability to
disseminate the best agroecological practices among their members.
“Strengthening social organization proves to be as impactful as distributing
fertilizers. Small-scale farmers and scientists can create innovative
practices when they partner”, De Schutter explains.

“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.”

“If key stakeholders support the measures identified in the report, we can
see a doubling of food production within 5 to 10 years in some regions where
the hungry live,” De Schutter says. “Whether or not we will succeed this
transition will depend on our ability to learn faster from recent
innovations. We need to go fast if we want to avoid repeated food and
climate disasters in the 21st century.”

*(*)*  *The report “Agro-ecology and the right to food” was presented today
before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. This document is available in
English, French, Spanish, Chinese and Russian at: www.srfood.org and


Olivier De Schutter was appointed the Special Rapporteur on the right to
food in May 2008 by the United Nations Human Rights Council. He is
independent from any government or organization.

For more information on the mandate and work of the Special Rapporteur,
visit: www.srfood.org or http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/food/index.htm

*Press contacts:*

Olivier De Schutter: Tel. +32.488 48 20 04 / E-mail:
olivier.deschutter at uclouvain.be
Ulrik Halsteen (OHCHR):  Tel: +41 22 917 93 23 / E-mail: uhalsteen at ohchr.org
Frederic Janssens
Communication Assistant
UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food
College Thomas More, Place Montesquieu 2 (Bte 15)
B-1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
Tel : + 0032 (0)493 24 88 38
Website : www.srfood.org

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