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"According to, a website managed by the University of California – Santa Cruz, agroecology officially covers many different areas within the agricultural sector.

The website provides three different definitions:

  • “the application of ecology to the design and management of sustainable agroecosystems”
  • “a whole-systems approach to agriculture and food systems development based on traditional knowledge, alternative agriculture, and local food system experiences”
  • “linking ecology, culture, economics, and society to sustain agricultural production, healthy environments, and viable food and farming communities”

Agroecology has also been described as the “science of sustainable agriculture”, and seeks to determine best method approaches for sustainable options." (


"The combined effects of climate change, energy scarcity, and water paucity require that we radically rethink our agricultural systems. Countries can and must reorient their agricultural systems toward modes of production that are not only highly productive, but also highly sustainable. Following the 2008 global food price crisis, many developing countries have adopted new food security policies and have made significant investments in their agricultural systems. Global hunger is also back on top of the international agenda. However, the question is not only how much is done, but also how it is done—and what kinds of food systems are now being rebuilt.

Agroecology, the application of ecological science to the study, design, and management of sustainable agriculture, offers a model of agricultural development to meet this challenge. Recent research demonstrates that it holds great promise for the roughly 500 million food-insecure households around the world. By scaling up its practice, we can sustainably improve the livelihoods of the most vulnerable, and thus contribute to feeding a hungry planet."


The Scientific Conceptualizing of Agroecology

Beatrice Walthall et al. :

"Agroecology is a long-standing term, evolving over the last few decades, thanks chiefly to its development and application in mainly Latin American countries (Altieri and Nicholls, 2017). From a scientific discipline and set of farming practices, it has expanded to become a wide movement which strives for and actively develops transformative policies on rural development, sustainable food systems and food sovereignty (González De Molina et al., 2019, Wezel et al., 2020, Wezel et al., 2009). Sullivan (2023) characterizes agroecological farming practices as involving diverse crop systems, reduced dependence on external resources, incorporation of indigenous and traditional knowledge, and an increasing association with political demands of a more equitable food system. Nowadays, agroecology is understood scientifically as the “ecology of (the entire) food systems” (Francis et al., 2003, Mason et al., 2021), as it incorporates the social and political dimensions, as well as other emergent processes expressed at the food system scale. It can be defined as “The integration of research, education, action and change that brings sustainability to all parts of the food system: ecological, economic, and social. It is transdisciplinary […], participatory […] and action-oriented […]. The approach is grounded in ecological thinking where a holistic, systems-level understanding of food system sustainability is required” (Gliessman, 2018, p. 599).

While the evolving use of the term agroecology reveals a growing influence on other disciplines and approaches, it also carries the risk of further conventionalising the term and allowing the commodification of food systems, if the systemic perspective is neglected by failing to consider the social, environmental and political dimensions holistically (González De Molina et al., 2019, IAFN, n.d). The flourishing use of the term (see footnote 1 and Altieri et al. 2021; Wezel et al. 2020) has been focusing increasingly on socio-economic aspects, shifting from the farm level to a food systems level (Gliessman, 2016, Mason et al., 2021) which enhances economic and ecological approaches by incorporating anthropological, ethnographical, sociological and ecological perspectives (Nicholls and Altieri, 2018). Sullivan (2023) identifies that these different aspects can result in a fragmented approach to agroecology via incompatible epistemologies, some of which uncritically accept the principle of commodifying food systems. A fragmented or selective interpretation of agroecology dilutes or even hijacks or co-opts the concept’s essence (Alonso-Fradejas et al., 2020, Altieri and Holt-Giménez, 2016, Anderson et al., 2021, Giraldo and Rosset, 2017, Giraldo and Rosset, 2022, Lamine et al., 2021, Rivera-Ferre, 2018, Wezel et al., 2018). Accordingly, the disputes on the (immaterial) meaning of agroecology reflect not only rhetorical differences but conflicts of interests on material territories, such as access to land, water, seeds or knowledge (Giraldo and Rosset, 2017). González de Molina (2020) distinguishes three processes which perform the “systemic rejection” of the corporate food regime towards agroecological experiences: (1) the “expulsion effect”, making experiences disappear after a certain time; (2) the “encapsulation effect”, confining them to a marginal area of agroecological production and consumption; and (3) the “conventionalisation effect”, removing the alternative traits and pushing them towards a behaviour that is similar to that of the rest of the food system. Alonso-Fradejas et al. (2020) refer to “junk agroecology” to illustrate how the term agroecology loses its meaning and usefulness once it is misappropriated, in this particular case by the sustainable intensification (SI) approach (see Section 4 for a detailed explanation on SI). Sullivan (2023) highlights the different epistemologies underlying agroecology, on the one hand, and hi-tech, SI approaches on the other, stressing the contradictory convergence between both approaches. In this context, Giraldo and Rosset (2022, p. 2) refer to “neoliberal agroecologies” as those based on “the conventional monoculture model of industrial agriculture, moderated by the introduction of some agroecological technologies”. Similarly, Faure (2021) considers SI as an incremental innovation following the same pathway as the Green Revolution and its dramatic, negative effects on the environment.

However, following a holistic approach, agroecology values and integrates diverse and systemic perspectives, and acknowledges multiple forms of knowledge (production) (Anderson et al., 2021, Anderson et al., 2019a, Utter et al., 2021). According to Rivera-Ferre (2018), different perspectives from science, practice and social movements are interrelated and represent separate storylines of the same “metanarrative”. As an example, agroecology-based local agri-food systems can be characterized as assemblages of human and non-human actors, including agroecological experiences, administrations, policies, infrastructures, landscapes and others (López-García and González de Molina, 2021). They thus focus on multidimensional interlinkages and their outcomes (food security and other ecosystem services) rather than on yields or financial revenues. Such a metanarrative integrates perspectives that are important for systemic transformations to social-ecological sustainability in knowledge societies (Rivera-Ferre, 2018). Therefore, a systemic and holistic view of agroecology can only emerge through the integration of perspectives from different social positionalities, knowledge and realities. The integration of these perspectives in agroecological approaches is a necessary condition for change, as Wezel et al. (2020) argue, since transformations to more sustainable food production and consumption occur through fundamental changes in rules, practices, institutions, values and shifts in politics, socio-culture, economy, environment and technology.

The scientific body of literature on agroecology that integrates science, practices and social movements has been developed mainly by assessing real interventions in countries in the Global South, where agroecology has a strong history (Anderson and Anderson, 2020, Mier y Terán Giménez Cacho et al., 2018). Agroecology experienced a significant increase as a movement in Latin America after realizing the social and ecological consequences of the Green Revolution (Altieri and Nicholls, 2017). Currently agroecology is experiencing another increase as a counter-movement against 1) the so-called “Second Green Revolution” of biotechnology and the spread of GMOs, and synthetic pesticides and digitalisation (Altieri et al., 2021) and 2) the co-optation of the agroecology term in reference to these approaches (Altieri, 2021). Important contributions originate in particular from studies in Latin America (Altieri, 1987, Altieri et al., 2021, Altieri et al., 2019, Altieri and Nicholls, 2017, Funes, 2002, Gliessman et al., 1981, Nicholls and Altieri, 2018), which emphasize the revival of traditional, place-based knowledge and practices (Isaac et al., 2018) and how agroecology can be scaled (Mier y Terán Giménez Cacho et al., 2018). In these contexts, culture (e.g. values, identities, and norms) is recognized as a significant source of agroecological knowledge (Méndez et al., 2013), with indigenous knowledge playing a crucial role in implementing and advocating for nature-based principles in agriculture (Toledo and Barrera Bassols, 2009). Moreover, research has shown that agroecology has positive effects on environmental, economic, nutritional and human health, and socio-cultural aspects (Altieri et al., 2021, Bezner Kerr et al., 2021, D’Annolfo et al., 2017, Palomo-Campesino et al., 2022, van der Ploeg et al., 2019).

Agroecology is commonly seen as a response that challenges the historically grown and institutionalized impetus of “maximizing agricultural yields over other socio-economic, environmental and biocultural objectives” (Isaac et al., 2018). Such responsive expressions of agroecology can be seen in some community-led and small-scale initiatives, such as community-supported agriculture, community food hubs or market gardens (Drottberger et al., 2021), which have embraced agroecology as part of sustainable AFN linked to urban food movements. Agroecology has also spread as an alternative for the survival of small- and medium-sized farms in Europe, as farmers reorganize their strategies towards input reduction and local markets (van der Ploeg et al., 2019). This has led to the creation of agroecology-oriented farmers’ groups to supply the emergent demand for local and fair organic agri-food products and promote agroecology-oriented agri-food policies (López-García and Carrascosa-García, 2023), establishing rural-urban linkages with the support of urban food policies (Passaro and Randelli, 2022, Vaarst et al., 2018). However, such agroecological experiences are not yet widespread and are often small and isolated from each other. Agroecology is made more precarious by an ecosystem of policies, regulations and social, cultural and economic mechanisms that hinder its ability to strengthen and grow, or pushes actors (e.g. farmers) towards conventionalisation, on what has been called the ‘systemic rejection effect’ from the corporate food regime on such initiatives (González de Molina, 2020, González De Molina and Lopez-Garcia, 2021).

The scientific concept of agroecology has been systematised in recent years into 10 elements by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO, 2018) and 13 principles by the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE, 2019). These elements and principles take into account ecological, social, economic and governance aspects of food systems. The 13 principles have proved to be useful in studying different transition pathways in food system changes, and been linked to the five levels of agroecology-oriented food system change by Gliessman (2016). Food system changes can occur by following these principles, and agroecology is transformative on a systemic level by creating real changes in local food systems. Fig. 1 shows how food system changes can take place through applying and using the 13 principles (for a detailed description, see Wezel et al., 2020)."


Key Concepts

"* There are roughly 925 million hungry people on the planet. Many of them are smallholder farmers or farm laborers.

  • With many governments poised for a large-scale reinvestment in agriculture, the question is not only how much, but how.
  • Agroecology—the effort to mimic ecological processes in agriculture—could provide a framework for this reinvestment. Already, agroecological practices are being used around the world, increasing productivity and improving efficiency in the use of water, soil, and sunlight.
  • But before agroecological practices can be scaled up globally, we must assess the market and political obstacles that stand in their way. Here, we present six principles that could help us overcome these obstacles.
  • Our “farmers-in-chief”—heads of states—can make the new paradigm on agriculture, food, and hunger a reality."



José Luis Vicente-Vicente et al. [1] :

Sustainable intensification (SI)

"Initially, SI aimed to address low-yield and environmentally harmful agricultural systems (Pretty, 1997), for example, by promoting resource efficiency (Weltin and Hüttel, 2023). Therefore, as Alonso-Fradejas et al., (2020) point out, the approach could be seen as a partial goal of agroecology. If combined with enabling aspects, such as diverse knowledge systems and decentralised and reflexive governance, the SI approach could foster agroecology. However, when evaluating actual developments of SI in specific farming practices using our framework, we found it to be a rather disabling approach for agroecology (see Table 2 and Fig. 3). The primary focus of SI is to increase yields and profits through the efficient use of resources (e.g. via precision-farming practices (Weltin et al., 2018)), but does not consider a full life cycle sustainability assessment, nor political or social aspects beyond production at higher system scales. Increased yields and profits are often achieved through top-down processes facilitated by large corporations, which supply farming inputs that cannot always be seen as sustainable (e.g. pesticides, inorganic fertilizers, seeds) (Bronson, 2015, Joseph, 2021, Rana, 2021, Schubert, 2005) and technologies (e.g. for data collection) (Carolan, 2018, Jarial, 2022). This approach tends to undermine the knowledge of family, local and indigenous farmers, leading to dependency and inequity, particularly through the exclusion and oppression of smallholders and vulnerable groups (Thomas and De Tavernier, 2017). Consequently, these approaches align with discourses that treat food as a commodity and advocate for ecological modernization, with a strong emphasis on resource efficiency and, more recently, on the application of technologies based on information and communications technology and artificial intelligence in precision and smart farming (e.g. robots and sensors), as well as the use of genetically modified organisms (e.g. Finger, 2023; Finger et al., 2019; Husaini and Sohail, 2023). However, they fail to address power inequalities along the food chain, both upstream and downstream (Levidow, 2018). In that context, these approaches perpetuate farmers’ dependencies on corporations without addressing the root causes of modern crises (Alonso-Fradejas et al., 2020).

Conservation agriculture (CA)

When applying the framework, CA falls between the enabling and disabling transformative agroecology (see Table 2 and Fig. 3). It follows a technocentric or managerial approach (Chatterjee and Acharya, 2021, Giller et al., 2015) focused on applying sustainable management practices such as reducing tillage and using cover crops to improve soil properties (Abdallah et al., 2021, Hussain et al., 2021, Stagnari et al., 2020) and related ecosystem services (Jayaraman et al., 2021). The actual application of sustainable management practices involves extensive use of inorganic fertilisers and synthetic pesticides, producing input dependencies and environmental unsustainability. It also involves knowledge exchange and social learning in existing social networks, which can reduce dependencies on external knowledge inputs. However, CA is limited in pursuing a transformative concept of agroecology as it only contributes to the reformation of specific and local farming practices. Other problems remain, including farmers’ external dependencies and a disregard for producers’ position in the food chain and their access to markets and revenues. CA does not therefore inherently acknowledge the wider social, economic and political systems and landscapes where agricultural practices are embedded.

Organic farming (OF)

Organic farming is a wide and diverse field of agricultural practices that could be classified in our framework as a reformative approach (see Table 2 and Fig. 3). It comprises a wide range of situations, farmers’ profiles and farming practices that can be subsumed (or not) in global markets and industrial logics (González De Molina et al., 2019). Thus, when assessing the contribution of OF to agroecology, we have found two main approaches at each end of the spectrum. The first approach, which falls closer to disabling agroecology, focuses on monocultures and input substitution from a narrow, productivist and market-oriented perspective (Giraldo and Rosset, 2022, Jiří et al., 2022, Miyake and Kohsaka, 2020), ultimately maintaining system stability instead of transitioning to an agroecological system. By contrast, the second approach, which is more enabling to agroecology, addresses progressive principles such as fostering farmer independence, incorporating local knowledge and promoting food sovereignty (HLPE, 2019). This approach leads to the creation of multifunctional landscapes (Jiří et al., 2022) that can serve as transitional systems towards an agroecological approach (Migliorini and Wezel, 2017), and is linked to food systems’ embeddedness in territories and alliances among producers, consumers and other local actors (López-García and Carrascosa-García, 2023, Passaro and Randelli, 2022). Although we have grouped OF into these two approaches, we are aware that specific real OF interventions can have elements of both.

Regenerative farming (RF) and related emergent terms

In recent years, RF has appeared in order to foster climate change mitigation via reducing greenhouse gas emissions and/or carbon sequestration. It emerged from grassroots, social justice and social-ecologically embedded movements (Umantseva, 2022). However, there is no clear definition of RF (or “regenerative agriculture”) (Tittonell et al., 2022), the focus is rather broad (Newton et al., 2020), and it overlaps with agroecology, organic farming and conservation agriculture (Manshanden et al., 2023, Tittonell, 2023). Thus, the framework applied to RF illustrates three forms: i) the commodification approach with a limited capacity for boosting transformations, ii) the agronomic approach with a medium capacity, and iii) the social-ecological approach with a high capacity for enabling agroecology (see Table 2 and Fig. 3).

The first approach involves commodifying the benefits of RF for profit, for example, through carbon farming (Carbon Cycle Institute, 2021). It involves optimizing the CO2 capture in landscapes by increasing the soil organic carbon content. If this is tied to payments for ecosystem services, involving the creation of financial instruments, such as C credits (i.e. “C farming” approach), or the overall goal of justifying net-zero CO2 emissions (Qian et al., 2022) (i.e. “net-zero” approach), it results in the commodification of nature. A recent example is the European Union initiative on the Certification of Carbon Removals (European Commission, 2022), which allows C credits to be traded on voluntary C markets (European Environmental Bureau, 2022). RF is sometimes linked with the climate-smart agriculture (CSA) approach (e.g. (World Economic Forum, 2022)) – an emerging term also linked to CA (e.g. (FAO, 2022, Thierfelder et al., 2017), but far from clearly defined. RF is currently used as a framework for public policies which promote agricultural digitalisation and intensification (SI approach) (e.g. (Campbell et al., 2014, Codur and Watson, 2018, Ngoma et al., 2018, Roy and George K, 2020, Sahu et al., 2020, World Bank, 2021), especially in low-income countries (e.g. (Aisenberg, 2017, Shaw and Wilson, 2020, Ulimwengu and Kibonge, 2017, Yitbarek and Tesfaye, 2022). CSA has a focus on food security and climate change adaptation and mitigation (Hrabanski and Le Coq, 2022; Konfo et al., 2024) and is based on increasing resource efficiency under a technocratic approach (Gangwar et al., 2019) by, for instance, linking it with the application of precision agriculture techniques (Konfo et al., 2024), but without considering the specific context where they are applied, especially regarding smallholders’ perceptions (Smith et al., 2021). The RF view aims at improving soil health or restoring degraded soils with a strong focus on maintaining productivity and profit. However, the potential trade-offs with other socio-ecosystem components are rarely considered (Clay and Zimmerer, 2020) and thus, the commodification approach falls within the spectrum of disabling agroecology.

By comparison, the agronomic approach (Giller et al., 2021, LaCanne and Lundgren, 2018, Le et al., 2021) focuses on applying specific RF practices (including sustainable management practices), often aimed at improving soil health conditions. Therefore, for most of the agroecological domains, a lower dependence on external inputs and knowledge than CA signals a medium capacity for transformative agriculture. As has been mentioned previously, expressions in the mid-range can be ambiguous as they hold enabling or disabling effects on transformation depending on how they link up with expressions in other domains.

In contrast to the previous forms, the social-ecological approach of RF (Anderson and Rivera-Ferre, 2021, Doherty et al., 2022, Gordon et al., 2021, Lymbery, 2021, Sabin et al., 2022, Sands et al., 2023) integrates different forms of knowledge, including local and indigenous, and creates new knowledge through peer-to-peer learning and the creation of lighthouses to demonstrate good practices and solutions to inspire other practitioners. It fosters fairness and social education within (novel) networks by establishing AFNs and adopting agroecological principles and promoting new local social-ecological structures and collaborations (Vicente-Vicente et al., 2023). Food is considered a common good within this approach and it is related to discourses on food sovereignty and the regeneration of food systems. The governance structure is horizontal and decentralized and focuses on social inclusion in local settings, thus, enabling agroecology (Vicente-Vicente et al., 2023)."



Six Proposed Policy Principles for Scaling Up Agroecology

By Olivier De Schutter, Gaëtan Vanloqueren:

"Despite these obstacles, the scaling up of existing agroecological practices is achievable if we can develop a policy framework to move from successful pilot projects to nationwide policies.57 Six key principles could help us do this.

First, we need better targeting. Focusing our efforts on the needs of smallholders may seem obvious, yet only a few existing programs effectively target this group. Today, 50 percent of the hungry live in small-scale farming households, living off less than two hectares of land, and 20 percent are landless.58 This is unacceptable. Nor is it adequate to fixate on productivity improvements in breadbasket regions while ignoring the people who live in more inhospitable environments such as semiarid lands or hills. Trickle-down economics failed the test in Africa and South Asia—the two regions with the highest incidence of hunger. In the 1960s, investing in the Punjab (as the Green Revolution did) did little to improve the situation of farmers in the eroded hills of Karnataka.

Second, the redistribution of public goods must be prioritized in food security policies. Agroecological practices require public goods such as extension services; storage facilities; rural infrastructure (roads, electricity, and information and communication technologies) for access to regional and local markets; credit and insurance against weather-related risks; agricultural research and development; education; and support to farmers’ organizations and cooperatives. The investment can be significantly more sustainable than the provision of private goods, such as fertilizers or pesticides that farmers can only afford so long as they are subsidized. World Bank economists have rightly noted that “underinvestment in agriculture is […] compounded by extensive misinvestment”59 with a bias toward the provision of private goods, sometimes motivated by political considerations.60 A 1985–2001 study of 15 Latin American countries in which government subsidies for private goods were distinguished from expenditures on public goods indicated that, within a fixed national agriculture budget, a reallocation of 10 percent of spending to supplying public goods increases agricultural per capita income by 5 percent, while a 10 percent increase in public spending on agriculture, keeping the spending composition constant, increases per capita agricultural income by only 2 percent.61 In other words, “even without changing overall expenditures, governments can improve the economic performance of their agricultural sectors by devoting a greater share of those expenditures to social services and public goods instead of non-social subsidies.”62 Thus, while the provision or subsidization of private goods may be necessary to a point, the opportunity costs should be carefully considered. Extension services that can teach farmers—often women—about agroecological practices are particularly vital. In today’s knowledge-based economies, increasing skills and disseminating information are as important as building roads or distributing improved seeds. Agroecological practices are knowledge-intensive and require the development of both ecological literacy and decision-making skills in farm communities.

Market failures affect the provision of these services. There is just too little incentive for the private sector to invest in these domains, and transaction costs are too high for local communities to create these goods themselves. States must step in. Seeds and fertilizers at subsidized prices are not a substitute for these public goods, although they may be competing for the provision of private assets in public budgets. Increasing the share of public goods in the government’s budget would have a significant positive impact on rural per capita income.

Third, if we want the best food security policies, we need a richer understanding of innovation that includes indigenous, local, and traditional knowledge. Simply put, not all innovations come from experts in white coats in laboratories. In large areas of Asia, farmers now join farmer field schools, a group-based learning process that enables farmer-to-farmer instruction. In India, farmers pool their seeds in community seed banks, which are administered through institutional arrangements to ensure the availability of planting material and the preservation and improvement of agrobiodiversity. And in Ghana, scientists launched radio broadcasts in local languages to popularize the best techniques to grow rice without additional inputs, rather than breeding new rice varieties. These techniques were identified through consultations with peasant groups, and they resulted in an average yield increase of 56 percent.63 Farmer field schools and community seed banks are not new technologies: they are social or institutional innovations. Such innovations are important to future food security because they can channel farmers’ experiences into knowledge-sharing processes with a considerable multiplier effect and at minimal cost.

Fourth, programs and policies must involve meaningful participation of smallholders. While some of the largest efforts to reinvest in agriculture shy away from a genuine engagement with representative farmer organizations, participation, if done properly, has several advantages for food security. First, it enables us to benefit from the experience and insights of the farmers. Second, participation can ensure that policies and programs are truly responsive to the needs of vulnerable groups. Third, participation empowers the poor, a vital step toward poverty alleviation because the lack of power exacerbates poverty: marginal communities often receive less support and are less able to advocate for their rights than the groups that are better connected to government. And finally, collaborations between farmers, scientists, and other stakeholders will facilitate innovation and create new knowledge.64

Existing projects demonstrate that participation works. Farmer field schools have been shown to significantly reduce pesticide use: large-scale studies from Indonesia, Vietnam, and Bangladesh recorded 35 to 92 percent reduction in insecticide use for rice.65 At the same time, the schools have contributed to a 4 to 14 percent improvement in cotton yields in China, India, and Pakistan.65 In Syria, Nepal, Nicaragua, and many other countries, participatory plant breeding schemes have been introduced in which researchers work directly with farmers, often combining traditional seeds with modern varieties.66 This practice empowers poor rural women who are key actors in seed management.67 In Latin America, the Campesino a Campesino movement has demonstrated that, when given the chance to generate and share agroecological knowledge among themselves, smallholders are very capable of improving their methods.68 In Cuba, a country that met its own peak oil when cheap oil imports from the USSR stopped, the adoption of agroecological practices was supported by the National Association of Small Farmers: between 2001 and 2009, the number of promotores (technical advisers and coordinators) increased from 114 to 11,935 and a total of 121,000 workshops on agroecological practices were organized.69 Participation, a key principle in the activities of the grassroots organizations and NGOs that currently promote agroecology,68,70 should be an element in all food security policies, from policy design to management of extension services. Experts, technical advisers, and farmers should be encouraged to collaborate in identifying innovative solutions.71

Fifth, states could use public procurement to speed a transition toward sustainable agriculture. In several European countries, schools have already started sourcing food from local producers with sustainability criteria. In June 2009 Brazil decided that 30 percent of the food served in its national school-feeding program should come from family farms.72

Sixth, performance criteria used to monitor agricultural projects must go beyond classical agronomical measures, such as yield, and economic measures, such as productivity per unit of labor. In a world of finite resources and in a time of widespread rural unemployment, productivity per unit of land or water is a vital indicator of success. Overall, measuring efficiency in the new agricultural paradigm of agroecology requires a comprehensive set of indicators that assesses the impacts of agricultural projects or new technologies on incomes, resource efficiency, hunger and malnutrition, empowerment of beneficiaries, ecosystem health, public health, and nutritional adequacy. The assessment of progress should be appropriately disaggregated by population, so that improvements in the status of vulnerable populations can be monitored.

Promoting agroecological approaches does not mean that breeding new plant varieties is unimportant. Indeed, it is vital. Already, new varieties with shorter growing cycles enable farmers to continue farming in regions where the crop season has already shrunk and where classical varieties did not have time to mature before the arrival of the dry season. Breeding can also improve the level of drought resistance in plant varieties, an asset for countries where lack of water is a limiting factor. Reinvesting in agricultural research must involve continued efforts in breeding, though caution is needed due to the drawbacks of current seed policies and of intellectual property regimes on seeds.73 Just as breeding should not be discontinued, but rather done with the participation of the farmers most in need, fertilizers should not be forbidden. Agroecology provides the larger framework for their use, and it emphasizes that fertilization can be pursued through natural means, such as nitrogen-fixing trees." (

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