Today’s agriculture is faced by two critical challenges, meeting nutritional and calorific needs of over 9 billion people by 2030 abd doing it in a way that conserves water, land, soils and the ecosystem. This calls for new agricultural models that will meet SDG 2 on Zero Hunger and SDG 12 on Sustainable Production and Consumption patterns. While a number of solutions have been proposed, most of them focus on productivity whilw ignoring sustainability. Take, for instance, industrial agriculture which encourages use of chemical fertlisers and pesticides while ignorimg their harmful effects on soils and biodiversity. Thia necessitates the development of eco-agri-food systs which is a collecrive term for the many complex interacting agricultural lands, marine systems, pastures, labour, infrastructure, technology, culture and institutions involved in the production, processing, distribution and consumption of food.
Agroecology is the science of applying teaditional and modern concepts and principles to the design and management of sustainable food systems. It focuses on the harmonious interactions between plants, animals, humans and the environment to conserve movements that converge to seek a transition to sustainable food systems, built upon foundations of equity, participation and justice. It entails use of naturally occuring materials to manage pests, diseases and weeds, natural processes to fix soil nutrienta and utilisatipn of renewable sources of energy while conserving resources. Agroecology offers a paradigm shift from conventional agriculture that is obsessed with high yields and short-term profits at the expense of the environment and other social effects. Among the key benefits of agroecology (measured by the number of people fed per unit of land or food produced per unit area), promotes climate change adaptation by producing food in ways that have low environmental impacts and enhancing food and nutriotional security since it involves multi-cropping as opposed to mono-cropping associated with industrial agriculture. In addition, it preserves culture, traditions and identity carved from foods while promoting social stability by ensuring food is produced and traded fairly hence promoting social justice. Most importantly, through regenerative agriculture, agreocology ensures the restoration of natural capital or the ecosystem.
To upscale agrpecology, investmenta and research are necessary to support evidence-based policies. There’s also a need to strengthen agroecology networks. Government intervention is also necessary for providing an enabling environment to support agroecology among small-holders who are most affected by climatic shocks.
The glove needs new alternatives to address the current and furure challanges in our food systems. Agroecology is viable option, capable if providinf win-win solutions by promoting food security and nutrition, restoring and maintaining healthy ecosystems, ensuring sustainable livelihoods ro small-holders and building resilience to adapt to climate change. It had the potential to contribute to the achievement of the SDGs, which are highly interlinked by appreciating the relationship between agriculture and the environmemr while promoting rural development and sustainimg livelihoods, especially among small-scale farmers.