Advocacy for sustainable agriculture
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.
Text: Marta Dabrowska