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Advocacy for sustainable agriculture

Written by Marta Dabrowska
Feb 08, 2012: How to bring agro-ecology on the political agenda? How to convince people that sustainable agriculture can feed the world? Interesting insights from Julia Wright’s presentation during Policy Opportunities for Agroecology session during Oxford Real Farming Conference (Fringe 2012)
Advocacy for sustainable agriculture

A community-supported agriculture share of vegetables.

According to Julia Wright, Deputy Director, Centre for Agroecology and Food Security at the Coventry University, the main challenge to mainstreaming agro-ecological approaches is common misperception of the agro-ecology. Stereotypically, agro-ecology is associated with low-input agriculture and low yields. Many people oppose agro-ecology believing that maximizing yields is necessary to feed the world and fight the hunger. Moreover, agro-ecology is sometimes associated with revolutionary, anti-policy movement.

So how can we challenge this misperception? Julia Wright makes two points for action: making more information on agro-ecology available (promoting agro-ecological literacy) and challenging widespread, conventional agriculture mindset. What does it mean in practice? Agro-ecological literacy starts with making more information and evidence about benefits of sustainable agriculture available. It also means creating educational system that emphasizes linkages between different elements of ecological, economical and social systems (holism).

To change conventional agriculture mindset we need to understand fear that make it so powerful. Fear that mainstreaming agro-ecological approaches will result in lack of food, loss of control and widespread starvation.

To tackle those fears we can refer to solutions rooted in eco-psychology science. It all starts with showing respect and assuring people that there are not the only ones who are worried about world’s situation and who care about starving populations. We also need to convince them that there is a potential for change and arouse feelings of the responsibility for negative impacts of conventional agriculture and empathy for ecosystems that are being damaged. This requires understanding of ongoing mechanism and good evidence supporting our claims. Finally, there is a need for guidance from people with a lot of authority.

Thus, bringing agro-ecology on the political agenda is not a one-step process. It requires skills, strategic thinking but also empathy and understanding of fears of people who doubt about potential of agro-ecology. Let’s start now!

For those who want to lobby for their ideas, inspiring can be also TEDx talk by Nancy Durante on making presentations for great ideas.

Further reading:

Text: Marta Dabrowska

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Sup
Sup says:
Feb 20, 2012 03:14 PM

Nice one Michelle, The other eeffct of the association people have with ecology and environmentalism is the idea ecology is a soft science for beardy, kaftan-wearing, tree-hugging, gaia-worshiping hippies. Whereas ecologists generally do a much better job at stats and experimental design than other fields within the life sciences.

Akemi
Akemi says:
Feb 22, 2012 11:25 AM

Well, I'm a European. The 1990s was at least to a caeirtn degree a decade of war around these parts. What happened in former Yugoslavia was just incredible. The Russian war in Chechnya is a notable tragedy as well. As for the Americans; well. The NATO doctrine of out-of-area attacks and operations was the starting point, really, of what was to come in the aftermath of 9/11.

Magnus
Magnus says:
Jan 14, 2013 09:24 PM

We know how to treat the land to keep our water clean, yet I see state land, county land, and city-owned land that is not tteared correctly (too much manure and fertilizer not enough buffer or trees, etc) The public lands should be models of what to do rightWe know how to treat the land to keep our water clean, yet I see state land, county land, and city-owned land that is not tteared correctly (too much manure and fertilizer not enough buffer or trees, etc) The public lands should be models of what to do right.

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