The Noah Project

Rebuilding a sustainable world.

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Farmer to Farmer Program Spearheading Agroecology Efforts in Nicaragua

Carmen Herrera writes about a program in Nicaragua which “encourages an appreciation of local knowledge to reestablish food sovereignty. ”

In an area carved into small farms known as minifundios, where each lot measures 0.75 to 1.5 Ha (1.8 to 3.7 acres), participants in the project called Farmer to Farmer (Campesino a Campesino) are spearheading agroecology efforts in Nicaragua. Crop diversification is one method for which small-scale farmers are using their skills and creativity to “take advantage of the soil,” said Leonel Calero, an 18-year veteran of agroecology practices and program promoter in El Mojón, about 37 kilometers (22 miles) from Managua, in the municipality of Catarina, Masaya.

They are employing new techniques rather than burning the land, and use crop residue and weeds to their advantage, Calero explained. “It’s a matter of conscience, to understand the earth needs care, that it can die but it can also live if we treat it well,” he said. “Everything is in nature as long as we use those resources from our farm and from our communities.” Continue reading


Shut Up and Listen – Cont’d.

Peasant communities all over the world are beginning to realize that, although intensive agriculture might boost crop yields in the short term with seemingly little effort, in the long term it pollutes water sources and depletes the soil.  Many have decided to abandon intensive agriculture and revert to the traditional farming practices used by their ancestors for centuries. In her article, posted by the Latinamerica Press, Louisa Reynolds describes how these ancient traditions are being reprised in a Mayan community in Guatemala:

Agroecology, fair trade, responsible consumption and the protection of native seeds are some of the practices that Mayan farmers have rescued from their ancestors.
Mayan farmers of the Cuchumatanes mountain range in northwestern Guatemala know that organic farming requires hard work, patience and dedication but is the only road to sustainable development.
In 2006, these farmers decided to abandon intensive agriculture, which involves the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizer, as they realized that it boosted crop yields in the short term with seemingly little effort but polluted water sources and depleted the soil in the long term. They then founded the Association for the Sustainable Development of the Huista Commonwealth (ADSOSMHU). Continue reading

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Agroecology Best Way to Fundamentally Transform Agriculture

Doug Gurian-Sherman posts an excellent article on his blog The Equation about the promise agroecology holds to fundamentally transform agriculture to make it more resilient to climate change, respond to new pests, conserve scarce resources like water and phosphorus, reduce environmental impacts, and establish food sovereignty.

…we must make a serious effort to develop ecologically-sound agriculture systems that address the huge shortcomings of industrial monoculture agriculture. And, like industrial ag, it must be highly productive.
Agroecology provides the principles and practices to accomplish this, and breeding and agroecology can work together. Research on soybean aphid resistance breeding and the value of natural aphid enemies in diverse landscapes provides a good example of how this can work, and how the big ag companies are sabotaging this kind of smart, scientifically sophisticated agriculture. Continue reading

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Agrochemical Companies and their stockholders the only ones who need genetically engineered crops

In the opinion section of Pambazuka News, Ali Masmadi Jehu Appiah, a Chairperson for Food Sovereignty Ghana, asserts, “The only people who need genetically engineered crops are the foreign seed and agrochemical companies and their stockholders.”  He provides a compelling argument for why Ghana should reject genetically engineered Bt cotton:

After several years of apparent short-term success in Burkina Faso of Bt cotton in increasing yields, and improving profits of small scale cotton farmers, authorities in Ghana have decided to go down the same road.
Ghana’s National Biosafety Committee (NBC) has just approved field tests of GE rice in the Ashanti Region, and GE cotton field tests at 6 different locations in the Northern Region. Bt is bacillus thuringiensis, a pesticide used to control bollworms in cotton, and stem borers in rice.
Why is Ghana looking only to the short-term gains of Burkina? Why not also look at the much longer-term experience of Bt cotton in India, China, the USA, and Indonesia? In all of these countries, there is evidence of huge problems arising from Bt crops after the first few years. Continue reading

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Food Movements, Agroecology and the Future of Farming

Tony Weis, (Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Western Ontario and author of The Global Food Economy: The Battle for the Future of Farming), who addressed the economic and environmental problems of the dominant chemical-industrial food system; Miguel Altieri (Professor of Agroecology at the University of California, Berkeley and author of Agroecology: The Science of Sustainable Agriculture), who looked at the alternatives offered by ecological, small scale, local and urban farming; and Eric Holt-Giménez (Executive Director of Food First / Institute for Food and Development Policy, and author of Food Movements Unite!: Strategies to transform our food systems) discussed the emergence of food movements from a global perspective, as well as the divisions between North and South, urban and rural.

Tony Weis’ talk at the University of Amersterdam in the Netherlands, on Tuesday 13 December 2011. Continue reading

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Agroecology – A Potentially World-Saving Concept

In his recent article “How to Feed the World” on the World Policy Blog,  Alvaro Rodriguez notes that our current industrial food system is failing to feed the world.

Today roughly 15 percent of the world’s population, some 1 billion people, goes hungry. At the same time, fertilizer overuse remains a major cause of environmental degradation. The dominant agricultural production model also wastes an astounding amount of food.  According to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), over a third of all food produced gets lost in present production and consumption systems.  With our world’s population projected to grow to 10 billion people by 2050, feeding the world is not going to get any easier. Industrial agriculture fails to provide safe and abundant food production and damages the environment, putting long-term food production at risk.

He believes the answer can be found in groups like  the Zimbabwe Small Holder Organic Farmer’s Forum, a national organization committed to the promotion of a small but potentially world-changing concept called “agroecology.”

Agroecology applies ecological science to the design of agricultural systems. It uses recycled biomass to create favorable soil conditions, minimize losses of resources, and manage organic matter. It also emphasizes the importance of having diverse crop species. It is a comprehensive approach that considers the interactions of important biophysical, technical, and socioeconomic components of farming systems.


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What the Russians can teach us about growing organic crops!

Christina Sarich at touts the success of small scale organic farming in Russia and encourages Americans to learn from it:

On a total of about 20 million acres managed by over 35 million Russian families, Russians are carrying on an old-world technique, which we Americans might learn from. They are growing their own organic crops – and it’s working.

According to some statistics, they grow 92% of the entire countries’ potatoes, 77% of its vegetables, 87% of its fruit, and feed 71% of the entire population from privately owned, organic farms or house gardens all across the country. These aren’t huge Agro-farms run by pharmaceutical companies; these are small family farms and less-than-an-acre gardens.

A recent report from Agro-ecology and the Right to Food says that organic and sustainable small-scale farming could double food production in the parts of the world where hunger is the biggest issue. Within five to 10 years we could see a big jump in crop cultivation. It could also take the teeth out of GMO business in the US.