AGROECOLOGY AND ITS CHALLENGES
An ecological approach to agriculture is Agroecology, a farming that ‘centres on food production that makes the best use of nature’s goods and services while not damaging these resources’. Agroecology is not a new invention. It can be identified in scientific literature since the 1920s. Agroecology is recognized both as mitigation and adoption strategy for climate change.
FAO’s 10 elements of agroecology, to mainstream sustainable agriculture and to achieve zero hunger, are Diversity, synergies, efficiency, resilience, recycling, co-creation and sharing of knowledge, Human and social values, culture and food traditions, Responsible governance, circular and solidarity economy.
A distinct approach
1. Being a bottom up approach, agroecology helps to deliver the integrated, holistic and long term solution to the root cause problem.
2. The ideas of agroecology are based on the combination of science with traditional, practical and local practices.
3. Unlike other approaches, agroecology focuses on social and economic dimensions i.e. focus on the rights of women, youth and indigenous people.
Challenges to agroecology
1) Demographic pressure and land loss – With 528.13cr population in world in 1990, now it has drastically increased to 759.43cr in 2018. By increased population, the demand for the land increased, not for cultivation but for habitation. According to the World Bank data, the forest cover of the world is 32.6% in 1990 and 30.7% in 2016. Instead of increasing the green cover, we are destroying it for the so called ‘urbanized life’.
2) Fragmentation of land – Lands are getting fragmented because of heritable rights, industrialization and compensation activities, agroecological system can’t be performed which needs minimum requirement of land.
3) Degraded soil fertility – Using more chemicals in the name of fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, and the resultant is degraded fertileness of the soil. And so, even though we are able to increase the production but productivity is not increased.
4) Depletion of natural resources – The 5F, such as food, fodder, fibre, fuel, fertilizer are obtained from FOREST. The depletion of forest for infrastructure, deplete the resources in nature. Without natural resources, agroecology is unimaginable.
5) Loss of biodiversity – ‘The earth is not only for humans but also for all other creatures’. Destroying the habitats of flora and fauna, makes changes in the food web, shatters the biological setup and finally worries the human. Agroecology demands the presence of micro and macro organisms.
6) Climate change – The most challenging environmental issue in the 21st century, the unusual climate temperatures, intermittent rain, drought, unpredictable monsoon etc. forms the hurdles of agroecology.
7) Fragile environment – The negative impact of green revolution still persists in the environment making it fragile for the sustainable agricultural methods to implement.
8) Farmer’s choice – Lack of subsidies, monetary benefits, and policies from government makes farmers away from sustainable, ecological farming.
Agroforestry, a good example of large-scale application of the agroecology concept. Research says that Agroforestry is a promising practice to some of the major agro ecosystem challenges such as food and nutritional insecurity, soil degradation, desertification, and climate change.