Saratha M, TNAU, Coimbatore

AGROECOLOGY AND ITS CHALLENGES

Introduction

Farming is a natural activity, but it turns into iniquity when it involves excessive exploitation of natural systems. Agriculture is dominated by negative socio-ecological impacts of productivism, global competitiveness and modernization (Kremen et al. 2012). Due to this unprecedented transformation, agroecology gained importance from 1960’s for shaping and enhancing sustainable agriculture with high potency.

Agroecology is a set of practices to enhance agricultural systems by mimicking natural processes, thus creating beneficial biological interactions and synergies among the compounds of the ecosystem (Silici, 2014). Scientifically, it is blending of agriculture, ecology and biology; crucial for solving complex problems in modern cultivation.

Moreover 84% of farms are less than 2 ha, i.e. about 34% of the world food requirement fulfilled by marginal farmers (Ricciardi et al. 2018). Conventional/industrial farming focused only on productivity and indigenous systems only on sustainability; whereas agroecology effectually combines indigenous technical knowledge (ITK) of cultivation with the findings of modern science, which holds its strength.

Modern agriculture might help in some areas but unable to uphold the exhausted lands of marginal farmers fighting with unforgiving climate. Whole world is challenged to protect humanity and food production. However, we need environmental friendly solutions to rise above, like agroecology, which indeed complex.

Challenges for agroecology

This sustainable intensification is a chain of challenges; it requires indigenous and scientific knowledge, integration and variegation of ideas, efforts and resources for its booming adoption.

¨ Transitions of homogeneity farming systems into agroecological i.e. breaking the export oriented large scale mono-cropping.

¨ Industrial agriculture research and development should be decoded into agro-ecological.

¨ Instigate farmers to reintroduce biodiversity for cultivating species and ecological corridors formation at field level to avert desertification and environmental degradation.

¨ Understanding everyday realities of farmers and endow with doorstep supports will influence the choices and perceptions of farmers towards agroecology.

¨ Agroecology farmers need community cohesion and social skills to defend ITK.

¨ Assisting farmers in optimal use of available resources; encourage better recycling by integration.

¨ Develop resilient agroecology farming systems to different agro-climatic conditions and prioritize benefits to local producers and consumers; excluding gaps in supply chain.

Still there are misgivings in the performance of agroecology farms to fulfill the world food needs. But agroecology practices are the way out for growing environmental, economical and social crisis globally.

“Agroecology farmers won’t manufacture food with chemicals; they create it by joining hands with nature”

Conclusion

Merely business mind in agriculture doesn’t help any more. This is the pivotal time for agroecological transitions of conventional/industrial agriculture, which capitulate multifarious outcomes. Agroecology practices would make positive vibes in modern agriculture. They strengthen sustainability and invariably promote ecological diversification instead focusing only on productivity. Agroecology depends on local resources and knowledge; hence their scientific understanding and emphasized adoption, affords enviable way to the world to triumph over the downbeats of industrialization.

References

Kremen, C., Iles, A. & Bacon, C., 2012. Diversified Farming Systems An Agroecological, Systems-based Alternative to Modern Industrial Agriculture. Ecology and Society, 17(4).

Silici. L. 2014. Agroecology-What it is and what it has to offer. IIED Issue Paper. IIED, London.

Ricciardi. V., Ramankutty. N., Mehrabi. Z., Jarvis. L. and Chookolingo. B. 2018. How much of the world's food do smallholders produce. Data in Brief, 19:1970-1988.

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