Deadline 15 March 2017
A call for climate resilient food systems
Climate change is real and the impacts are already upon us. Family farmers and peasants, through virtue of their intimate relationship with the natural environment, are amongst the first ones to feel the impacts. They are also on the frontline when it comes to taking actions, to safeguard their way of life and mitigate climate change. Family farmers are not alone in these activities, there are also a growing number of citizens engaging in climate change activism and researchers working with farmers to manage the risks from climate change. For example, researchers and citizens lobby governments to invest in renewable energy and create policy that supports farmers who store carbon in the soil.
What does agroecology – as a science, movement and practice – have to offer here? Certainly agroecology offers ways to cope with and prepare for threats such as increasingly uncertain and extreme weather events. In contrast to ‘climate smart agriculture’ and other top-down approaches, agroecology builds resilience as it is grounded in local and relevant knowledge, low external inputs and both biological and cultural diversity. For example, for peasants, climate variability is an inherent feature of the environment in which they live. This is reflected in their choices and adaptive practices related to combinations of crops, varieties, animals and, to planting, storage and postharvest techniques.
Moreover, agroecology can contribute to mitigating other threats posed by climate change, such as biodiversity loss through mass extinction. For instance, transitioning from existing production paradigms, like global commodity markets based on industrial agriculture, to local and regional food systems reduces the carbon footprint of food production and transportation. It also reduces reliance on fossil fuels.
The June 2017 issue of Farming Matters will explore the strategies that family farmers and civil society are developing to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change. How do these strategies help amplifying agroecology as a practice and a movement, and how do they feed into the science of agroecology? We are particularly interested in hearing about grassroots experiences where family farmers have innovated or revived old farming practices to cope with extreme climatic events and uncertain weather. And what is the greater socio-political relevance of these experiences? Are you working towards climate resilient food systems? Share your story with the Farming Matters community.