Holistic approaches in agroecology require the incorporation of farmers’ knowledge and experience.
Photo: Jan Börner

25.06.2018

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Agroecology embraces a collection of different disciplinary fields, ranging from agriculture and ecology to political theory. A stronger recognition of agroecology in agricultural research, which often has a strong production focus, could help to achieve sustainable development if more holistic and transdisciplinary research approaches are adopted.

According to UN projections, the current population of around 7.6 billion people is expected to reach nearly ten billion by 2050. The latest assessment on land degradation by the Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) forecasts a reduction of global crop yields by up to 50 per cent in different regions in Central and South America, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia by that time, mostly due to land degradation and climate change. Agroecology will play a major role in meeting the challenge to nourish the human population, taking into consideration the need for healthy functional ecosystems as a prerequisite for sustainable livelihoods. This is reflected by the increasing relevance of agroecological issues in current political initiatives such as IPBES and the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). Many of the SDGs can only be achieved if food and feed are produced sustainably for the world’s growing population. This however requires research to expand the often narrow concepts of agricultural systems.

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