ecological farming

Maintaining our ever growing population is going to become harder and harder, we need to encourage farmers to use land more wisely. Our society was built on agricultural know how, we managed to create our towns and cities because we mastered the production of food. Humanity has since this mastery built an intricate and technological society but due to the rate at which we are progressing we have began to take shortcuts around the very load bearing infrastructure of our modern existence.

In the effort of building a sustainable planet we need to go back to our origins of an agroecololgy, this means that countries for the most part have to provide for themselves and provide crops that are natural and indigenous to a specific area. We have to do away with pesticides that destroy our soil and reduce the agricultural output of our crops. We also have to grow crops that are indigenous to an area that will therefore be more resilient against concerns such as global warming.

Below is a trailer to a video one man, one cow, one planet which is about this exact fight for a sustainable existence in India as well as a more indepth look at eco-farming and the benefits for farmer, population and planet.

 

The latest report out from the United Nations reveals farmers in developing nations can double food production in ten years' time by simply transitioning from the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides to ecological agriculture.

The report released last week points to the success in eco-farming projects in 57 nations, where adopting natural methods for soil enrichment and protection against pests has resulted in an average of 80% in crop yield.

Olivier De Schutter is the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food and author of the report, Agro-ecology and the Right to Food.

“We won’t solve hunger and stop climate change with industrial farming on large plantations,” De Schutter said in a press release.

“The solution lies in supporting small-scale farmers’ knowledge and experimentation, and in raising incomes of smallholders so as to contribute to rural development.”

He points out that agriculture "is at a crossroads," and growers will have to implement methods that allow continued crop yield in a time when industrial farming — heavily dependent on oil — is simply not sustainable, nor affordable, for many farmers in developing nations.

"If food prices are not kept under control and populations are unable to feed themselves...we will have increasingly states being disrupted and failed states developing," De Schutter explains.

And because the cost to produce food is so closely linked with the cost of oil, the agriculture system as we know it is in a certain and long-term state of threat...

Industrial farming is the way of life for most developed nations, where farming methods rely heavily on oil.

The report details why these nations will eventually need to shift to agroecology to sustain crop production — and to increase farms' resilience to the natural disasters (floods, droughts, a rise in temperature and sea level) projected as a direct result of climate change in coming years. 

This includes the good ol' U.S. of A. (The price of oil is in the triple digits as I write this.)

"Sound ecological farming can significantly boost production and in the long term be more effective than conventional farming," De Schutter told Reuters, going on to mention methods like increasing the use of natural compost or high-canopy trees to shade coffee groves.

Just take a look at twenty African nations, where eco-farming projects have resulted in overwhelming results. Crop yields doubled within three to ten years of implementing ecological practices...

As well as providing examples of just how farmers are swapping conventional farming methods for ecological methods:

Thousands of Kenyan farmers were planting insect-repelling desmodium or tick clover, used as animal fodder, within corn fields to keep damaging insects away and sowed small plots of napier grass nearby that excretes a sticky gum to trap pests.

And aside from the obvious benefits of crop yield, sustainability, and a transition from oil reliance, ecological farming allows for genetic diversity — a key factor missing in many genetically modified seeds and crops...

Sustainable and organic farms offer a diversity of crops that improves nutrition among those who eat them, as well as builds a resilient food system.

Genetic uniformity lends itself to crop failure from climate changes and disease that can affect a harvest...

Just consider the recent news of a disease-ridden banana crop in Uganda. The Guardian reported today that GM science will not save a crop that is not genetically diverse enough to fend against a plant disease.

De Schutter discusses the general need for crop diversification around the globe; the importance for farmers to shed their reliance on wheat, corn, and rice in diets.

For eco-farming to really take hold around the globe, education and training are necessary — especially in parts of the world where industrial farming and the use of genetically modified seeds have been enforced for generations of farmers.

But where there's a will, there's a way. And many farmers, especially those in developing nations, are eager to shift from industrial farming and regain ownership of their seeds and farming methods.

De Shutter's study highlighted success among rice growers in Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Vietnam, where "Farmer field schools" by rice growers resulted in a decrease in insecticide use between 35 and 92 percent.

Peter Proctor is one such person devoting his life to the education and training of ecological farming. Well-versed in biodynamic agriculture, a higher form of organic farming, Proctor is sharing his work with farmers in Asia.

Originally from New Zealand, Proctor retired in India and has spent the last several years visiting, educating, and even cultivating crops among communities in rural India.

His goal is to empower Indian farmers in their battle to turn away from chemical farming and utilize organics and biodynamics to save their soil, their crops, and their communities, many in ruins from industrial farming.

Proctor's experience with Indian farming communities, his interactions with Indian farmers as they become self-sufficient and free of external agriculture market forces, was made into a documentary in 2008.

One Man, One Cow, One Planet brings to life the importance of biodynamics and organic farming.

Admittedly, I knew nothing of the importance and power biodynamics. Proctor's work with a bucket of cow dung and his travels through the Indian countryside are inspirational, and something everyone should at least be aware of.

Farming — be it industrial and chemical, ecological, biodynamic — is the method by which we get our food. Pretty important stuff, if you ask me.

You can read the full UN report here — and you can check out the One Man, One Cow, One Planet trailer below.

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