Think of agriculture of the future and you may conjure up images of hydroponic lettuces grown in underground, urban bunkers or massive-scale precision farming using satellites and drones. But for campaign group Farms of the Future, the future is, and can only be, agroecology.
A lot has been written about agroecology, and a new special issue of the journal Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems takes it to the next level. It expands the conversation by outlining recent progress in ecology relevant for tackling food system challenges ranging from disappearing diversity to water woes to climate catastrophes.
A growing number of investment companies in this realm are now using capital to help ranchers switch to 100 percent grass-fed beef production, connect small farms to communities with little access to fresh food, and transition farmland used to grow commodity corn and soy to organic, regenerative systems.
“There’s total momentum right now around people rethinking about how their money is being put to work,” says Kate Danaher, the senior manager of social enterprise lending and integrated capital at RSF Social Finance. “Impact investing as a whole is growing very quickly, and my guess is that if you polled everyone interested, the most popular sector is sustainable food and ag.”
Navandya encourages a mix of ancestral and modern farming techniques through the practice of agroecology. The teaching is based on simple science and economics—farmers don’t need to bury themselves in debt to tend their crops. Healthy soils and climate-adapted, local seeds can generate adequate yields and well-fed children. Navdanya’s method isn’t anti-modern, but it is based on ancestral wisdom.
Many studies reveal that small farmers who follow agroecological practices cope with, and even prepare for, climate change. Through managing on-farm biodiversity and soil cover and by enhancing soil organic matter, agroecological farmers minimise crop failure under extreme climatic events.
This issue of Farming Matters shows how the industrial food system is a main culprit when it comes to the climate crisis, and illustrates how agroecology and food sovereignty offer solutions by addressing the root causes of this crisis – political, social and environmental.
The Institute for Food and Development Policy, a nonprofit known as Food First, released a new book entitled Fertile Ground: Scaling Agroecology from the Ground Up, edited by Groundswell International Executive Director and co-founder Steve Brescia.
Although it may at the moment be true that there’s enough food ‘around’, the system which currently produces that food is not ecologically sustainable into the future. It’s not just that this system is failing but, more fundamentally, it is actually its successes which are eroding our future.