To boost food security, let us adopt agroecology


Agroecology finds its success by applying ecological principles to agricultural systems, adopting regenerative practices and integrating indigenous knowledge.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Many of us already recognise that the industrial food system is failing both the planet and the people on it and that a shift to more sustainable production is not only necessary but urgent.

Currently, almost a quarter of all global greenhouse gas emissions come from the industrialised food system, which is also a major contributor to biodiversity loss, deforestation and water and air pollution. It is also a major factor in the rapid disappearance of local food cultures and traditions.

While large-scale change has been broadly hidden from the mainstream media, all over the world communities and farmers are embracing agriculture practices that offer us real hope.

Instead of fast profits based on extractive practices, agroecology finds its success by applying ecological principles to agricultural systems, adopting regenerative practices and integrating indigenous knowledge.

From where I sit in Uganda, we are at risk of losing a number of cultural and biological diversity as well as heritage foods and animal breeds. “The Pearl of Africa” is endowed with a range of climates and environments in which diverse flora and fauna flourish. But it is being eroded by unsustainable food and farming practices.

Smallholder farmers across the country are increasingly using agroecology to revive and protect our heritage foods, preserve ancient knowledge and promote sustainable practices. In doing so, they are also delivering more diverse and nutritious diets for their families and local communities. They show us that we can repair the relationship between people and nature, and can help us tackle food insecurity.

But, we know that diverse, agroecological and healthy food systems face limited government support. This, and the limited acceptance of local research on the benefits of agroecological solutions, holds back change.

A recent report by the Global Alliance for the Future of Food shows a narrow questioning of the evidence base for agroecology, regenerative approaches, and indigenous foodways undermines the adoption of these methods more widely. But from Africa to Latin America through Asia, there is growing evidence that these approaches are already delivering positive health and nutrition outcomes alongside environmental benefits.

The Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on global food production and supply chains. Now, with the crisis in Ukraine resulting in shortages and price spikes, it’s more obvious than ever that we must find viable alternatives to industrialised farming.

While we are seeing the impacts of climate change at an alarming rate, it’s not too late to act. By embracing the transformative capacity of agroecology and with the support and collaboration of public and private donors, researchers and policymakers we can achieve scalability and ensure food security.

Mr Mukiibi is a tropical agronomist and Vice President and member of Slow Food International’s executive committee