La Via Campesina: Who Defines Agroecology?

Module Progress:

As you have read, there are many different perspectives on agroecology. But who gets to define it? What is it, and what is it not?

There are many approaches and ways to describe sustainable agriculture (think: organic, ecological, bio-intensive, small-scale, etc), which can make it confusing to understand the difference between the terms, and how they relate to agroecology. Many agrichemical and seed companies, such as Monsanto, have tried to co-opt terms like ‘sustainable agriculture’ in order to make their practices sound less harmful. Many worry they will start to use the term agroecology to suit their own needs and sell more products. Here, La Via Campesina clarifies what agroecology is and is not, to avoid co-optation.

As we reviewed in the past module, La Via Campesina is a social movement that comprises about 164 local and national organizations in 73 countries from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. Altogether, it represents about 200 million farmers. It is an autonomous, pluralist and multicultural movement, independent from any political, economic or other type of affiliation. For this reason we put special attention in how they define agroecology and food sovereignty.

Below, you’ll find charts produced by La Via Campesina that show some of the principles and practices associated with agroecology, and a chart showing sustainable farming approaches and how they align with or differ from the concept of agroecology that we use for this course.

Excerpt 1: Agroecology: Putting Food Sovereignty into Action

from La Via Campesina | Why Hunger, 2015

Message from LVC

Click here to download full article

Charts 1-3: Agroecology: What it is and what it has to offer

by Laura Silici | IIED Natural Resources Group, 2014

The following charts are from the paper, Agroecology: What it is and what it has to offer, by Laura Silici. They show the core principles of agroecology and examples of agroecological practices that utilize these principles.

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Charts 1-3. Principles and Practices of Agroecology from Laura Silici, 2014. Boxes from the paper Agroecology: What it is and what it has to offer. IIED Issue Paper. IIED, London.

Forum Question: Who Defines Agroecology?