Working with nature for diversity in farming, climate protection and empowerment

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Germany joins the international Agroecology Coalition, reinforcing its commitment to fair, sustainable agriculture and ensuring the future viability of rural areas. By adopting a holistic approach, agroecology is helping to address the greatest challenges of our time: protecting the climate, combating hunger and preserving biodiversity.

Landschaft im Chunati Wildlife Reservat, einem Naturschutzgebit im Südosten von Bangladesh. © GIZ, Martin Ranak, 2013

By Friederike Bauer

Friederike Bauer studied American Studies, Communication Science and Politics in Munich, Los Angeles and Morelia. She worked at the FAZ (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) for 14 years, first as a trainee, later as an editor, correspondent and as a member of the commentary team. After that, she worked in development cooperation. Since 2011, she has been working as a freelance journalist, author and speechwriter. Her special focus is on foreign and development policy as well as sustainability. She is the author of various books.

All contributions

Two of Germany’s Federal Ministries – the Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) – joined the Agroecology Coalition together at the ‘Policies against Hunger’ conference held in Berlin on 27 and 28 June 2023. The Coalition was established in 2021 at the World Food Summit with the aim of transforming global agriculture and food systems. Current methods have failed to provide enough healthy food for the global population and to protect the environment and climate.

 

In fact, agriculture has become one of the main contributors to climate change and is responsible for deforestation, loss of biodiversity and soil degradation. Without a fundamental transformation of the entire system, the number of people going hungry will remain high at around 800 million, healthcare costs will rise due to malnutrition, land will continue to be degraded and water will become even scarcer.

 

Counteracting the exploitation of land, the environment and people

One way to counteract this existential threat is agroecology. Agroecology aims to transform food systems by deliberately pursuing a holistic, socially and ecologically sound approach to counteracting the exploitation of land, the environment and people.

 

Agroecology and organic farming are often wrongly regarded as the same thing. Although many aspects of the two overlap and environmentally friendly agriculture using natural fertilisers, efficient water use, crop rotation, avoidance of pesticides and so on are central to both, agroecology goes far beyond agricultural practices. Various measures come together to ensure future prospects and equality for farmers. As a systemic approach, agroecology also alters the framework conditions, ensuring, for example, fair access to land and water – particularly for groups that are currently disadvantaged. Agroecology promotes biodiversity in farming, on-site product processing and distribution through local or direct sales channels. This benefits women, young people and indigenous groups in particular, boosting their economic status through additional income. These multifaceted farming systems preserve local food cultures and facilitate a healthy, varied diet

 

Agroecology therefore stands for diversity on many levels – ecological, social and economic – and not least because it protects the environment, involves poorer population groups and diversifies income sources in rural regions.

 

The application of agroecological principles thus improves the structure of the soil, ensures balanced water management and increases carbon storage. Agroecology can also be regarded as a social movement that promotes women and young people, supports smallholder farmers, helps to boost their productivity and rights, and opens direct sales channels between producers and consumers. The UN World Food Council laid down 13 principles and policy recommendations in 2019, outlining what agroecology is.

 

Germany reinforces its commitment

By joining the Coalition, which now counts 44 countries and 100 organisations among its members, Germany is underscoring its support for this future-focused approach. The BMZ has been significantly expanding its commitment and has supported more than 60 agroecology projects since 2014. An initiative in India has become a beacon among such projects. Although the green revolution has lifted millions out of hunger and poverty in recent decades, the widespread use of chemical fertilisers in India has also created dependencies and leached the soil, up to 40 percent of which is degraded.

 

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