Sunday, March 27, 2011

UN for small farmers, not corporate ag

Groundbreaking New UN Report on How to Feed the World's Hungry: Ditch Corporate-Controlled Agriculture

Alternet: 'To feed 9 billion people in 2050, we urgently need to adopt the most efficient farming techniques available. And today's scientific evidence demonstrates that agroecological methods outperform the use of chemical fertilizers in boosting food production in regions where the hungry live,' says Olivier de Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. Agroecology is more or less what many would simply call 'organic agriculture,' although important nuances separate the two terms.

Used successfully by peasant farmers worldwide, agroecology applies ecology to agriculture in order to optimize long-term food production, requiring few purchased inputs and increasing soil quality, carbon sequestration and biodiversity over time. Agroecology also values traditional and indigenous farming methods, studying the scientific principles underpinning them instead of merely seeking to replace them with new technologies. As such, agroecology is grounded in local (material, cultural and intellectual) resources...

'We won't solve hunger and stop climate change with industrial farming on large plantations.' Instead, it says the solution lies with smallholder farmers.'... The report calls for investment in extension services, storage facilities, and rural infrastructure like roads, electricity and communication technologies to help provide smallholders with access to markets, agricultural research and development, and education... It notes the importance of providing farmers with credit and insurance against weather-related risks...

When asked to provide more detail about crop breeding, De Schutter... noted that genetically engineered crops not only carry environmental risks, but are also 'associated with unsustainable farming practices and with a worrying concentration of the seed industry... Rather than treating smallholder farmers as beneficiaries of aid, they should be seen as experts with knowledge that is complementary to formalized expertise.'

The entire report, 'Agroecology and the Right to Food' is available here.
Image source here.