Taking our part on the global target of reducing poverty, ending hunger and building climate-resilient farms under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Agro-Eco Philippines (formerly MASIPAG Mindanao, Inc.) conducted a Training of Trainers on Agroecology last February 20-22, 2017 at Agro-Eco Philippines Resource Center, Maluko, Manolo Fortich, Bukidon.
It was participated by 40 advanced farmers all over Mindanao – whose practices have long been proven very effective in concretizing the SDGs at the community level and in empowering more poor farmers.
The training is part of Project AFFIRMED undertaken by Agro-Eco Philippines in partnership with FASTENOPFER (Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund) and DKA Austria, and framed after the development paradigm of CIDSE, a global network of Catholic funding organizations.
But what is Agroecology?
Agroecology is a holistic approach to agriculture, based on principles of ecology as well as food and nutrition security, food sovereignty and food justice which seek to enhance agricultural systems by using and recycling natural resources instead of relying on externally-purchased inputs (CIDSE).
It is a science that draws on social, biological and agricultural sciences and integrates these with traditional knowledge and farmer’s knowledge (University of California).
This revolutionary approach in agriculture has 6 Principles, namely:
1.Network: nature is a network of living systems nesting within other living systems that are interconnected.
2. Cycles: matter cycles continually through the web of life, hence ecosystem do not generate waste.
3. Solar energy: this is the fundamental source of energy that drives all ecological cycles.
4. Partnership: exchanges of energy and resources in an ecosystem are sustained by pervasive cooperation, not competition.
5. Diversity: all ecosystems derive stability and resilience through the richness of diversity.
6. Dynamic balance: an ecosystem is a flexible, ever-fluctuating network
Scientists affirmed that Agroecology is not just about changing the farming practices from the conventional framework; it also instigates social change through the following:
Create spaces challenging social barriers
Open opportunities for women
Achieve more equal land rights
Share knowledge, and
Establish strong social movements
With agroecology, poor farmers can break away from economic, political, social and environmental barriers created by a pesticides-dependent, traders-controlled, monocropping and export-oriented agricultural system.