The thirty-three case studies shed light on the tremendous success of agroecological agriculture across the African continent. They demonstrate with facts and figures how an agricultural transformation respectful of the farmers and their environment can yield immense economic, social, and food security benefits while also fighting climate change and restoring soils and the environment.
Local Context, Long-Term Impact
While agroecology promotes low use of external inputs, it is a very knowledge-intensive system. Transmission of this knowledge, adaptation to local contexts, and appropriation by farmers and government technicians, are essential steps for farmers and communities to reap the benefits of agroecology. The case studies demonstrate how the expansion of agroecological practices will generate a rapid, fair and inclusive development, that can be sustained for future generations.
What is Agroecology?
Agroecology is the application of ecological science to agriculture and agroecosystems. It encompasses a wide-variety of practices, which are coherent with key principles of environment preservation, social fairness, and economic viability. Therefore, agroecology combines parameters of sound ecological management, like minimizing the use of toxics by using on-farm renewable resources and privileging endogenous solutions to manage pests and disease, with an approach that upholds and secures farmers’ livelihoods.
Benefits of Agroecology
Increased Agricultural Production and Productivity
A large variety of techniques are used to increase yields in a sustainable way: plant diversification, intercropping, application of mulch, manure or compost for soil fertility, and natural management of pests and diseases. Often combined, these have been success stories all over the African continent. In Ethiopia, a low external input approach led to a doubling of Tigray’s grain yield between 2003 and 2006, while fertilizer use decreased by 40%. In East Africa, over 96,000 farmers have adopted the Push-pull system that fights the parasitic Striga weed and stem borers invasion in maize fields, without any chemical insecticides and herbicides. Maize yields have increased three-fold as a result. Kenyan farmers who adopted the Grow Biointensive approach, using mainly compost, close spacing of plants, and intercropping, increased their yields by 2-4 times compared to conventional farming while using 70 to 90 % less water, and purchasing 50 to 100% fewer inputs.