Title of document:  Agroecology: A Global Paradigm to Challenge Mainstream Industrial Agriculture

Authors: Hector Valenzuela

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 Ministry/Government Agency/Organisation: Department of Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences, University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA

Year of publication: 2016

Geographic focus: Global level

Main issues / topics addressed (for example: agroecology; agrobiodiversity; biodiversity; farming systems; organic farming; ecological farming; soil management, convention agriculture meet the basic sustainability criteria…)

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Summary:

 Considerable controversy continues to exist in scientific and policy circles about how to tackle issues of global hunger, malnutrition, and rural economic decline, as well as environmental issues, such as biodiversity loss and climate change adaptation. On the one hand, powerful vested interests, with close ties to government, media, and academic institutions, propose high-input technology-based solutions, speculative and neoliberal “market-based” solutions, and export-oriented agricultural models. On the other hand, an international scientific and grassroots Food Movement has emerged, calling for a redesign of the Global Food System in support of small-scale agroecological farming systems. A call to re-evaluate our current Food Systems was made in 2008 by the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD). Here, using the IAASTD study as a backdrop, we review the recent literature to outline key contentious points in the controversy between the need for high-input and “techno-based” versus agroecological farming models. A critical assessment is made of proposed strategies to protect soil resources, improve nutrient and energy cycles, protect agrobiodiversity, and promote social well-being in rural communities. With an increase in the number of affluent consumers (i.e., the middle class) in the developing world, and with the continued problem of extreme and chronic poverty with other larger sectors of society, Organic Farming and Agroecology models are put forward as a sound social, scientific, and rural development strategy.