Low External Input Sustainable Agriculture

June 2017 – Climate-resilient food systems – last date 30th April 2017

Climate change is real and the impacts are already upon us. Family farmers and peasants, through virtue of their intimate relationship with the natural environment, are amongst the first ones to feel the impacts. They are also on the frontline when it comes to taking actions, to safeguard their way of life and mitigate climate change. Family farmers are not alone in these activities. There are also a growing number of citizens engaging in climate change activism and researchers working with farmers to manage the risks from climate change. For example, researchers and citizens lobby governments to invest in renewable energy and create policy that supports farmers who store carbon in the soil.

What does agroecology – as a science, movement and practice – have to offer here? Certainly agroecology offers ways to cope with and prepare for threats such as increasingly uncertain and extreme weather events. In contrast to ‘climate smart agriculture’ and other top-down approaches, agroecology builds resilience as it is grounded in local and relevant knowledge, low external inputs and both biological and cultural diversity. For example, for peasants, climate variability is an inherent feature of the environment in which they live. This is reflected in their choices and adaptive practices related to combinations of crops, varieties, animals and, to planting, storage and postharvest techniques.

Moreover, agroecology can contribute to mitigating other threats posed by climate change. On the one hand, it can reduce the impact of agriculture on the climate through sustainable methods like increasing biodiversity on the farm, better soil management, low fossil energy input etc. On the other hand, it can help rural societies cope with drastic changes, as farmers adapt and respond to new opportunities, and build more resilient farming systems.

The June 2017 issue of LEISA India will explore the strategies that family farmers and civil society are developing to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change, thereby building resilience. How do these strategies feed into the science of agroecology? How do farmers perceive and deal with changes in their environment? We are particularly interested in hearing about grassroots experiences where family farmers have innovated or revived old farming practices to cope with extreme climatic events and uncertain weather. And what is the greater socio-political relevance of these experiences?

Articles for the June 2017 issue of LEISA India should be sent to the editors before 30th April 2017. Email: leisaindia@yahoo.co.in