With the drastic increase of food demand and food insecurity throughout the world. It is believed that by 2030 the global demand for food, energy and water is expected to increase by 30 to 40 percent. This is driven by rapid urbanization, population expansion and various arable lands are converted into commercial lands and also due to the change in diet behaviors. In order to meet these extensive demands requires a much more sustainable, smarter and efficient food system while keeping in mind the drastic effects of climate change and dwindling of the natural resources in hand.
To overcome this problem of food insecurity, doubling the food production will not only come from converting more non arable lands and barren lands into cultivatable and fertile lands but to rather promote a sustainable food system that offers healthy and nutritious food and also preserve the biodiversity and the environment. Regenerative agriculture can offer several contributions to this process.
Regenerative agriculture/ agro ecology combines scientific and traditional methods of cultivation and apply them on a wider food system.
Agro ecology builds on the accumulated knowledge and practices which farming cultures have built up over centuries, adapting to their particular ecological and climatic conditions. It is regenerative in the sense that it gives back to the land and creates a positive cycle within the farming practice. Regenerative agriculture is an approach to food and farming systems which aims to regenerate topsoil, increase biodiversity, improve water cycles, enhance ecosystem services, increase resilience to climate fluctuation, and strengthen the health and vitality of farm soil, by recycling as much farm waste as possible, as well as adding compost material from outside the farm.
In 2014 food and agriculture organization (FAO) organized the first international symposium on agro ecology for food security and nutrition in Rome. Over 400 participants representing governments, civil society, science and academia, the private sector and the UN organizations discussed the contribution of agro ecology to sustainable food systems. The symposium provided an opportunity to share experiences and build the evidence base study on agro ecology. Food and agriculture organization (FAO) has adopted this concept of regenerative agriculture and has put it into practical use which works towards the solution and improving the livelihood of people around the world. FAO has various projects on regenerative agriculture throughout the world. Combining traditional and modern scientific knowledge in innovative ways, here are a few projects by FAO that highlights the successful approach of regenerative agriculture in different communities.
Scaling Up Agro Ecology by Farmer’s Field Schools: In 2016 and 2017 FAO has established quite a number of farmer field schools in Angola, Burkina Faso, Mali and Mozambique. These farmer field schools are effective tools for educating the local communities in integrated agro ecological concepts and combining them with traditional ways. These schools engage with the local people and addresses the problems and provide them with critical information. Through an exchange of knowledge and experiences, participants shared information on a whole-system territorial approach to rural development.
Marketing The Nutritional Goodness of Purple and Pink Rice from The Mountains of India: The heirloom varieties of purple and pink rice are two indigenous rice varieties grown by family farmers in the Indian Himalayas at an altitude of 1200 to 1800 meters above sea level. These varieties, grown in small quantities and consumed locally during festivals, are rarely sold on the market due to competition from lower priced white rice. Although their production per unit of land is much lower compared to other varieties of rice, these purple and pink varieties beat the nutritional benefits of brown and red rice combined. Rich in fiber, they are loaded with antioxidants, Vitamin E, protein, iron, and other nutrients, while the low sugar content makes them an extremely desirable dietary option for heart patients, diabetics as well as for those with high blood pressure.
The Pan Himalayas Grassroots development foundation, a non-profitable organization and FAO have partnered up and are working to explore sustainable markets for these small families which grows these rice in the state of Meghalaya. Ecosystem Service and Biodiversity for Food Security and Nutrition as A Blue Growth Initiative in Kenya: Mangrove ecosystem is a one of the most productive system on earth mostly found coastal areas of tropical deltas. Mangrove forests are an incredible ecosystem; they are biologically diverse comprising of different species of algae, crustaceans, fish, incest, reptiles, pelicans and other birds and mammal’s species. With the declining of mangroves areas in Kenya, FAO as part of the blue growth initiative has started a multidimensional project with agro ecological elements to focus on restoration of these ecosystems. FAO with the local stakeholders raised awareness and educated the local communities about the importance of biodiversity and environmental protection of mangrove ecosystems, the community was better able to sustainably manage mangrove forests and make generative income activities.
FAO partnered with other stakeholders and an estimated 268 122 seedlings were planted in 41 hectares of degraded mangrove forest areas, and three new mangrove nurseries were established in combination with aquaculture and apiculture. These farms and nurseries were looked after by the residents of the local communities. These activities were beneficial for rehabilitating the biodiversity of the mangroves forests and the livelihood of the ecosystem. Agro ecology in The Heart of Hungary: In 2013 a young couple educated in agronomy and environmental management established MagosVolgy ecological farm. The aim of this farm was to create a farm system that promotes sustainability and with utilizing local resources but due to financial reasons and no governmental support, running the ecological farms seems difficult. However, FAO heard of their work and started supporting their farms. FAO was able to connect to markets and to other technical networks, sharing information and knowledge on agro ecological techniques and small-scale sustainable food production for urban people.
These farms now employ seven young local residents who are working towards to rehabilitating the agrobiodiversity of the community. In 2016 they produced 30 different species and 100 varieties of organic vegetables with using no tillage techniques. Their ambition is to develop disease resistant varieties of vegetables and fruit trees and also double the size of area being used for cropping. To ponds are set to be developed to be used as water reservoirs and can be used as habitat for aquatic life. Accessing fuel for cooking in displacement settings in Ethiopia: In Ethiopia wood fuel is their source of fuel for cooking and also keeping themselves warm in colder weather. On average a family is Ethiopia uses four kilograms of firewood each day for cooking purposes as according to a survey 80 percent of human food needs to be cooked.
This excessive use of wood as a source of fuel is a main reason for deforestation and degradation of the environment around the refugee camps. This promotes the exposure to natural hazards and climate change anomalies which puts more pressure on the already venerable communities. FAO is supporting more than 50,000 refugee households in Ethiopia through targeted interventions addressing the collection and use of energy for cooking, heating and productive uses. FAO through adapting agro ecological approach that enhances sustainable livelihoods and promotes resilient in displaced settlements has taken initiative based on four actions.
Ensuring a reliable and sustainable supply of energy that promotes sustainable natural resources management. Enhancing wood fuel supply by establishing multipurpose tree-planting programs. to help to fulfil the demand while maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem of the forests. Promoting energy efficient cooking/heating technologies at household level, which can be locally produced and sold, contributing to the local economy. Lessen the workload on woman by reducing the distance to collect wood for fuel.