Agroecology, regenerative practices and indigenous knowledge are not only transforming food systems in Uganda, Kenya, Senegal and other parts of Africa but also restoring biodiversity, the latest Global Alliance for the Future of Food report has revealed.
Global Alliance for the Future of Food is a strategic alliance of philanthropic foundations working together and with others to transform the world’s food systems today and for future generations
Titled, ‘The Politics of Knowledge: Will we act on the evidence for agroecology, regenerative approaches, and Indigenous foodways?’ the interactive report shows evidence for how agroecology, regenerative agricultural practices and Indigenous foodways are transforming the food systems of Africa and the world through; unpacking questions about yield, scalability, viability and well-being, experts from 15 countries unite to challenge “the way things are” in research, policy, and decision-making about the way food systems are run.
Authors argue that evidence biases and narrow thinking hold back food security and climate action.
The report asserts that the industrialized food system is one of the greatest stressors to the health of the planet, causing 80% of biodiversity loss and generating almost a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions.
“Alternatively, agroecology, regenerative practices and Indigenous knowledge are avenues that can lead to sustainable food systems and repair the relationship between people and nature. However, the evidence supporting these practices, although abundant, is not prioritized in government policies or budgets, due to the limited frames of traditional analysis. Skepticism ends up holding back the urgent transformation of food systems,” said one of the authors of the report during its launch on Wednesday.
The interactive digital report presents different types of evidence – such as lived experiences, traditional knowledge, scientific analysis, oral histories, and peer-reviewed articles – to show how joint efforts can support the performance, scaling-up and economic viability of agroecology.
Speaking at the launch, Lauren Baker, the Senior Director of Programs at the Global Alliance for the Future of Food said that Agroecology, regenerative approaches, and Indigenous foodways are systemic solutions that are already delivering positive health and nutrition outcomes, a sense of purpose and dignity, social justice and climate action across Africa and for millions of people worldwide.
“With this new material in hand, donors and researchers alike will be able to leverage the transformative power of agroecology, Indigenous and regenerative practices and accelerate change at a time when it is needed more than ever,” Baker said.
According to the key findings, traditional agricultural indicators such as yield per hectare or scalability are insufficient to prove the virtuous capacity of agroecology to feed and nourish humanity through sustainable food systems based on equity, justice and reciprocity, not just large-scale food production.
“Agricultural biodiversity is a centre-piece of agroecology, regenerative approaches, and Indigenous foodways and this diversity is strongly linked to health and nutrition,” the report reads in part.
ENDA Pronat from Senegal stated that farmers participating in their programs show that agroecology can be as productive as conventional agriculture once soil fertility is restored.
“Agroecology, regenerative agricultural practices, and Indigenous food customs are systemic solutions with positive health and nutrition outcomes. For example, a recent study of the Soil, Food and Healthy Communities (SFHC) program in Malawi concluded that the agroecological practices used by farmers have increased household food security and nutrition,” Pronat said.
The report further states that revaluing cultural and ecological knowledge enhances community well-being, “for example, in Kenya, pastoral systems are regenerating grassland and the government is securing customary land tenure rights to enhance sustainable natural resource management.”
“Food transformation requires changing research, education and innovation systems, especially short-term approaches, the prioritization of “cheap” food and the design of measures that are insufficient due to their narrow focus. There is a unique opportunity for public and private donors and funders to collaborate and promote an independent multidisciplinary research and action program, focused on political and social justice and food sovereignty,” it adds.
The authors further argue that “if we do not look for and centre diverse evidence in decision-making about the future of food, we will be limited to designing ineffective and isolated solutions, incapable of responding to the major global challenges we face.”
The report was compiled by 70 authors from 17 teams from 15 countries, representing the geographic, institutional, sectoral, gender and racial diversity of the planet.
These among others include organizations and networks of practitioners, researchers, farmers and food providers, indigenous peoples and foundations working in the food systems sector at national and international levels.
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