RHEA Research Centre / Agronomy
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Project: ‘The Agroecological Alternative’
Since 1970, I have perceived the impasse in which humanity rushed following the global population explosion and the very principles of Western consumerism that induced unbridled consumption of natural resources, biodiversity destruction and climate changes. Today, I see the collapse of ecosystems and the entire biosphere through the destruction of the large biomes that made up the ‘home’ of humanity and of all the other species that inhabited the planet.
During a 40-year career in education and agricultural research, I quickly saw the devastating effects of industrial agriculture, but I thought for a long time that it was amendable. In the early 2000s, the race for agricultural productivism was revived in Europe and a new generation of toxic products was put on the market. In 2012, I decided to use my theoretical and practical experience in the concrete development of agroecology in order to demonstrate its potential to ensure a future for farmers, supply citizens with healthy food products, restore biodiversity, adapt agriculture to climate change, and mitigate the effects of climate change by reducing fuel use and storing carbon in soils. This project was developed on farms, on several hundred hectares, in Wallonia, Flanders and France. It was financed by private funds. It seemed impossible to find public support for this type of holistic research.
The system aims to replace commercial inputs with services provided by biodiversity. For example, synthetic nitrogen is replaced by nitrogen that is symbiotically fixed by legumes or insecticides through an ecological network that multiplies the natural enemies of crop pests. This drastically reduces production costs. By producing quality foods, transforming their products and marketing them into short and local channels, farmers increase their incomes. This helps to give prospects to the profession and create new jobs. This organic, no-till, biodiversity-based system is now working.
In parallel, a training programme to agroecology has been developed and a coaching service is proposed to farmers and project leaders.
A massive support of agroecology through the Common Agricultural Policy and other local policies would be needed to give access to land to project leaders, organize a rapid conversion of farmers, revive rural development generating jobs and biodiversity, and reduce the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Originally posted 2018-05-15 22:39:40.