Over the years, localized, traditional food production methods have largely been taken over by global supply chains dominated by corporate agri-food giants. This has led to the destruction of small farmers’ livelihoods. Powerful, corrupt transnational corporations have taken ownership of water, seeds, land, food, soil -- all to maximize their profits.
Those who manipulate these essential common resources seek to commodify them and force everyone else to pay for them. In reality, these natural assets belong to everyone. They should be managed by public institutions and governments acting on behalf of the people.
It has become painfully clear that the corporate food system negatively impacts our health, the environment and the well-being of family farmers.
Consumers want healthier food. Some are seeking a connection to local food producers. International social movements are campaigning for a healthier food system. The demand for agroecology is increasing.
Agroecology is a sustainable farming approach centering on food production that makes the best use of nature’s ecosystems and strives not to damage natural resources. The agroecological farmer seeks to nurture a healthy landscape in which to grow food. Around the world, many parties are working with farmers to develop sustainable, nutritious food systems based in agroecology, including scientists, grassroots/nonprofit organizations, universities and other agencies.
Although traditional agroecological practices have been eradicated or are under threat, there is a global movement advocating a shift towards more organic-based systems of agriculture, which includes providing support to small farms and an agroecology movement that is empowering to people politically, socially and economically.
The scaling up of agroecology can help alleviate hunger, malnutrition, environmental degradation and climate change. A 2014 report to the UN Human Rights Council called for the world’s food systems to be radically and democratically redesigned. It concluded that by applying agroecological principles to the design of democratically controlled agricultural systems we can help to put an end to food crises and address climate-change and poverty challenges. The report argued that agroecological approaches could tackle food needs in critical regions and could double food production in 10 years, provided that there is sufficient backing.
Agroecology is the essential alternative to the industrial food production model. It requires local producers and communities to challenge and transform structures of power in society. It involves prioritizing local food economies and small farms. Ultimately, true agroecology means that what ends up in our food and how it is grown is determined by the public good.