Agroecology for life!

Celebrating good, nutritious food on World Food Day

Friday 16 October is World Food Day, and small-holder farmers in northern KwaZulu-Natal will be showcasing agroecology and sharing their journey towards securing their right to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods.

"To secure the Right to Food in South Africa, an agro‐ecology policy and strategy must be a priority. The main objective of this policy should be to replace the current dominant industrial agriculture system with agro‐ecology. We must put those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations," said Karen Read, advocacy practitioner at environmental NGO Biowatch.

"Prevailing industrial agriculture uses 10 times more energy than agroecology and consumes on average 10 energy calories for every food calorie produced," she said. "When all impacts are considered - from farm to plate to landfill - the industrial food system is the greatest cause of anthropogenic climate change, accounting for around half of all emissions."

What is agroecology?

Agroecology is the sustainable alternative to industrial monoculture farming systems. It is adapted to local conditions, is inexpensive, works in harmony with nature, and preserves biodiversity. Food produced using agroecology is free of artificial chemicals and GMOs (genetically modified organisms), is healthy, and has balanced nutrients.

However, agroecology is more than this. It is also a thriving social movement mobilising to ensure farmers are in full control of all aspects of food production. It builds on traditional agricultural practices using research, technology and existing indigenous knowledge.

"In essence," said Read, "agroecology is about justice - justice for the Earth and justice for her people."

On Friday 16 October, at the Biowatch World Food Day event, agroecology farmers from the Impisethunjini Project in Pongola will open their food gardens so people can witness first hand how agroecology is changing the lives of farmers, their families and their communities.