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An Overview on Agroecology

Author: Bryan Zhang

Editors: Kevy Chen and Roberto Bailey

Artist: Sally Sun

The agricultural industry is, at this point, a significant source of pollution in quite a few countries. This is no surprise, with all the pesticides, fertilizers, and all the other chemicals farmers use to ensure a good harvest. While this may be a temporary solution to provide food, these practices are by no means sustainable. With threats like global warming and climate change endangering the future of agriculture, is there anything we can do? Enter agroecology.

There are several principles of agroecology, some notable ones being recycling biomass,maintaining diversity in the growing of food, improving efficiency,making use of all resources at one’s disposal, less susceptibility in the case of natural disasters and other external factors that may affect the crops, responsible governance of farmland and the other natural resources that fuel them, and more. These principles also tie in  to climate change and global warming, which is the biggest issue agroecology is trying to solve. The previously mentioned pollution stemming from current farming practices contributes to the changes associated with climate change and is also what should be combated through these principles. 

Now, this may sound all great, but there’s a reason agroecology is not already in use around the world. One argument against it is the lack of unity for how it should be achieved. The points made above are some of the principles of agroecology, but how it’s achieved, or even the principles themselves, is heavily dependent on local context. This means there’s no one, unified way to achieve the goals of agroecology, which makes it difficult to coordinate what happens between any given groups. The second argument, however, is probably the main point in the criticism of agroecology. 

The second argument is a simple one, being that there’s no way that it could match the current expected output of crops. After all, there’s a reason that we have been using such ecologically harmful methods in agriculture. It’s efficient, and it keeps things cheap. The farmers have to be paid, and this is the easiest solution that we’ve come up with. After all, the agricultural industry makes up about 5.4% of the national GDP in just the United States. Combined with a growing population, estimated to pass 9 billion by 2050, there’s not much we can do right now. 

Yet, there are countries around the world that are already taking steps toward achieving a more sustainable future. Much of Latin America is already following the principles of agroecology, and many parts of Europe are also making advancements. Research based on advances in technology and big data yielded from the previously mentioned countries has shown that the economy and the rest of the country can adapt to the changes brought by this. 

Agroecology may not be the only field in which sustainable farming is advancing, and may not even be the most important one, but the world is constantly adapting to the changing environment. Just remember: everything matters. 

 

Citations:

Dell, Clara. "What Is Agroecology?" Sentient Media, 22 Mar. 2023,

sentientmedia.org/agroecology/#:~:text=Agroecology%20systems%20are%20based

Nair, P. K. Ramachandran. "Grand Challenges in Agroecology and Land Use Systems."

Frontiers in Environmental Science, vol. 2, 28 Jan. 2014. Frontiers,

Wezel, Alexander, et al. "Agroecological Principles and Elements and Their Implications for

Transitioning to Sustainable Food Systems. A Review." Agronomy for Sustainable

Development, vol. 40, no. 6, https://doi.org/10.1007/s13593-020-00646-z. Accessed 10

Jan. 2024.

Zaruk, David. "Is Agroecology a Solution or an Agenda?" Outlook on Agriculture, vol. 52,

no. 3, 3 Aug. 2023, pp. 247-53, https://doi.org/10.1177/00307270231191807. Accessed 10

Jan. 2024.

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