Agroecology applies ecological principles to agriculture. It makes use of the functions provided by ecosystems while preserving their capacity for renewal, particularly by limiting the use of artificial inputs (pesticides, fertilizers, fuels, etc.) and using crop diversification instead.
Investing in this kind of agroecological transition, via small-scale family farming, is the best way to meet the economic and social needs of producers and make progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). “The fight against poverty and for food and nutrition security, gender equality, inclusive financial systems, inclusive health care and sustainable resource management, it all begins with agriculture,” says Gilles Kleitz, Executive Director of Sustainable Development Solutions (SDS) at AFD.
The following five agroecology projects are supported by AFD Group in partnership with NGOs and other institutions:
SUPPORT FOR FAMILY FARMING IN FIVE COUNTRIES – ETHIOPIA, HAITI, MADAGASCAR, MALAWI AND SIERRA LEONE
This program, implemented in remote and densely populated rural areas, aims to support family farmers struggling to maintain their production capacity under difficult circumstances, such as decreased fertility, the effects of erosion, deforestation and a lack of markets to sell their products.
Led by Inter Aide and its partners – RCBDIA (Rural Community Based Development Initiative Association), RPC (Rural Poultry Center), farmers' organizations and local ministries – this project has two main objectives:
- Improving farming families’ food security and resilience, mainly through the diversification of food production, focusing on pulse, tuber and vegetable production
Some of the actions taken include: mobilization of a network of experienced producers to support some 9,500 families, particularly those in vulnerable situations
- Restoring and preserving the natural resources of fragile environments (vegetation cover, soil, water tables) to maintain conditions conducive to family farming, by combining environmental issues and resource creation (such as timber and firewood, fruit and fodder).
Some of the actions taken include: training in sustainable techniques of institutional players, key contact farmers and families, support for business start-ups (nurseries, access to seeds, technique implementation, planting and land development) and participatory creation of regulations for the sustainable management of plantations
See also: Food Insecurity: Supporting Family Farms through Public Policy
AGROECOLOGICAL TRANSITIONS FOR FOOD SOVEREIGNTY, EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES AND GLOBAL HEALTH PROJECT WITH AGRONOMES ET VÉTÉRINAIRES SANS FRONTIÈRES (AVSF)
How can agroecological transitions be supported to promote crisis-resistant food systems, social justice, equal opportunities for young people and women, and the preservation of health?
In 19 countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America, with the support of around a hundred partners (including farmers’ organizations, NGOs, universities and local authorities), AVSF tests and approves practical innovations:
Agroecological transition at plot, territory and sector level:
- Sustainable certifications co-created by sector stakeholders
- Collective production and supply systems for organic inputs
- Development of local seed banks in Bolivia
Socio-economic and political inclusion of young people and women:
- Development of activities to facilitate access to employment for young people and women in the cashew nut sector in Senegal and the Shea sector in Togo
- Economic emancipation of women through the market gardening and fiber sectors in Mongolia
- Agroecology training and support for agrifood entrepreneurship aimed at young people in Ecuador’s rural areas
SUPPORT AND CONSOLIDATION OF THE AGROECOLOGICAL TRANSITION (ACTA) IN CONGO, GUINEA-BISSAU AND MOZAMBIQUE WITH ESSOR
The overarching objective of the ACTA project is to further the agroecological transition and improve producers’ living conditions. This is achieved by consolidating the sustainable market gardening sector in seven African regions (Brazzaville and Dolisie in Congo, Bissau and Bafata in Guinea-Bissau, and Maputo, Nampula and Beira in Mozambique), while facilitating dialogue between public and private stakeholders on the challenges of urban agriculture and agroecology.
Essor works in partnership with three NGOs (Agridev in Congo, Asas de Socorro in Guinea-Bissau and Abiodes in Mozambique), 25 institutional members and three national networks.
- 1,500 market gardeners are receiving support, of whom 50% are women and 60% are young people. So far, their agricultural income has increased by 25% on average.
- 23 micro-enterprises are being assisted with the launch and development of their businesses: production and marketing of seeds and vegetables, marketing of small-scale farming equipment, etc.
- 950 market gardeners are taking part in Participatory Agricultural Training (PAT)
- 50% of market gardeners involved in PAT have fully converted to agroecology practices and 50% have reduced their use of chemical pesticides by half per crop cycle
AGROECOLOGICAL INTENSIFICATION AND DIVERSIFICATION OF PERI-URBAN FAMILY FARMING (IADA) PROJECT IN SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA, WITH AGRISUD
In recent years, due to its dynamic tourist industry, Siem Reap has been faced with high demand for fresh produce, a need predominantly met by imports from neighboring countries. Local production was seasonal, not very diversified and spread across a multitude of small family farms under strong land pressure.
To help these family farms find their place on the market, the IADA project focuses on agroecological intensification, as well as the diversification and marketing of produce, providing support to 1,970 farms, promoting production via the “Green Farmers” organization and managing multi-stakeholder dynamics via eight communal platforms (including local authorities, technical services and NGOs).
- 400 family farms have increased their production by at least 25% and diversified their crops to include an average of five different types.
- The income generated by the agricultural activities of these farms has increased on average by 25-30%, as a result of developing the production, processing and marketing of local agricultural products.
See also: Benin Sows the Seeds of Agroecology
RURAL DEVELOPMENT: SMALLHOLDER RESILIENCE ENHANCEMENT PROGRAM WITH THE INTERNATIONAL FUND FOR AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT (IFAD)
In Angola, 50% of people living in poverty are in rural areas and earn their income from subsistence farming. Small-scale family farms account for more than 80% of agricultural production nationwide.
The country’s long-term droughts are exacerbating health problems associated with malnutrition (40% of children in the southern provinces are affected by stunted growth), driving down the incomes of millions of rural families, and accelerating a rural exodus.
AFD has joined forces with IFAD, which has been financing smallholder support projects for many years to implement the Smallholder Resilience Enhancement Program (SREP) in Angola.
Launched in 2020 and scheduled to run for six years, the aim of the project is to boost agricultural production and improve food and nutrition security, while increasing the incomes and building the resilience of 218,000 rural Angolan households.
The goal of the SREP is to promote sustainable farming practices, such as the introduction of drought-tolerant crop varieties, adaptation of crop calendars and rainwater harvesting. The project is investing in areas such as small-scale irrigation, improved access to water and climate-resilient farming practices.