PACJA joined other international climate champions to mark the first Agroecology Conference meant to transform agriculture and food systems in Africa.
There has been a growing interest in agro-ecology in recent years as an innovative and sustainable response to the challenges facing food and agriculture systems. Through a series of nine regional and international multi-stakeholder meetings, more than 2,100 participants from 170 countries came together in Kenya’s capital Nairobi to discuss the potential of agroecology to transform food and agriculture systems, as well as identify needs and priorities to scale up agroecology as a strategic approach to achieving Zero Hunger and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
There are less organic farmers than non-organic farmers, and it is more of a challenge to find reliable and steady suppliers of truly organic produce that can meet industry demands, the meeting agreed.
Agroecology isn’t just a single action, it’s a whole system, and has to be done as a system in order to reach a sustainable food production,” said Hans R Herren, a participant at the event.
Herren said climate and food security champions would be forced to appear as one voice if they want to achieve sustainable food production. He said Africa spends up to $32 million importing food while she has only 3 million farmers.
Malik Cane, a member from United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said startups from developing countries were creating innovative solutions to improve ways of doing agriculture.
In her presentation at the event held at Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi, Sarah Olembo, a technical Expert on Sanitary and phytosanitary issues; food safety at the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa mentioned that healthy soils, healthy water and healthy systems were the way to go. Sarah urged the participants to have pride in producing and supporting our own products.
Sarah saw it important to bring back the role of women in agriculture, saying women have to get down to work and learn new technology that can improve old-school agricultural practices.
Participants were encouraged to use social media as part of networking and sharing information on biodiversity.
Herren said humans had to be aware of the forces that try to stop the “journey of agro-ecology”.
It came as a shock to many once they heard that very soon famers might be charged to use rainwater on their farms.
In the country food safety and standards are regulated by a variety of laws, including the Public Health Act, Cap 242 and the Food Drug Chemical Substances Act, Cap 254.
As a way forward, it was noted that everyone needed to work towards demystifying the narrative that agroecology cannot serve the nation.
“We need to diversify opportunities in agro-ecology, and be the drivers of agro-ecology,” participants were told.
Experts and participants were urged to develop change that could be used to convince the rest of the world, especially Africa, to embrace agro-ecology.
Participants of the three-day event also agreed to be hosting a series of such conferences, but before that, people should spread the word on agroecology.
The experts said feedback from the ground would lay the agenda of the upcoming conferences.