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Sustainable Systems » Ecological Agriculture & Food Security

Title: The Deep Roots of the Agroecological Movement in Latin America and Spain
Publication date: May 12, 2017
Posting date: May 12, 2017

THIRD WORLD NETWORK INFORMATION SERVICE ON SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE

 

Dear Friends and Colleagues

The Deep Roots of the Agroecological Movement in Latin America and Spain

A special issue of the journal, Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, sheds light on how the agroecological movement has spread to many other countries from its roots in Spain and Latin America several decades ago.

Articles in the issue cover the origins of agroecology and the growth of the agroecological movement in Spain and various countries in Latin America.They share in common how agroecology has developed as an alternative and a form of resistance to the industrial model of agriculture that focuses on simplification, industrialization, monoculture and export markets. The agroecological foundations imbedded in traditional knowledge, cultural expression, and long-term farming experiences have created this resistance. In all the case studies, agroecology is developing important education, research, and training programs, and in some, public policy which promotes agroecology.

Agroecology appears to be most developed in the countries with deep local and traditional agrarian culture, such as Spain and Mexico. In countries like Brazil, it is well advanced due to strong social movements that have linked agroecology to the demand for land, protection of local seeds and their free exchange, and resistance to the introduction of proprietary genetically engineered organisms. Meanwhile, it has also gained popularity due to promotion by NGOs and other social organizations such as cooperatives in countries like Nicaragua.

In order to develop the alternative food and farming systems needed to make the transition away from the current non-sustainable industrial models, agroecologists have a lot of work to do, and it is hoped that this exchange of experiences will help this process. The editorial for the issue is reproduced below.

With best wishes,

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____________________________________________________________________________

A BRIEF HISTORY OF AGROECOLOGY IN SPAIN AND LATIN AMERICA

Editorial

Steve Gliessman
Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/21683565.2017.1292390

Our journal, with the word “agroecology” in the title, is an indication that the field of agroecology has emerged as an important approach for moving food and farming systems toward sustainability. We have become a site for the publication of participatory, action-oriented, and transdisciplinary research that has a goal of linking science, practice, and the social change process needed to design, test, and implement the alternative vision many of us hold for the food systems of the future. But where did agroecology come from? How did it develop, what were the issues it was addressing, and how far has it come? This special issue sheds light on these questions for a particular part of the world where a movement began several decades ago, and has spread to many other countries from its roots in Spain and Latin America.

Something that all of the contributions to this special issue share in common is how agroecology has developed as an alternative and a form of resistance to the industrial model of agriculture that focuses on simplification, industrialization, monoculture, and export markets. The agroecological foundations imbedded in traditional knowledge, cultural expression, and long-term farming experiences have created this resistance. The history of agroecology varies from country to country, with some well developed and others in the incipient early stages. Agroecology seems most developed in the countries with a deep local and traditional agrarian culture, such as Spain and Mexico. Others are well advanced thanks to strong social movements that have linked agroecology to the demand of access to land, protection of local seeds and their free exchange, and resistance to the introduction of proprietary genetically engineered organisms, such as Brazil. NGOs and social organizations such as cooperatives have promoted it in others, such as Nicaragua. In all of the case studies, agroecology is developing important education, research, and training programs, and in some, public policy that promotes agroecology. There is no doubt that the strong base of agriculture in small-holder systems, along with the continued predominance of rural populations, have also been factors.

Spain is included in this collection, partly because it is directly linked by language and culture. It is also included, however, in order to call attention to the long history of development of agroecology in Spain, with its interdisciplinary roots in both the natural and social sciences, its commitment to social change, and the important role it has played in training many of the agroecologists who have led the agroecological movements in Latin America. It is curious that this strong and important movement in agroecology has had such limited impact on the development of agroecology in the rest of Europe where the movement is just beginning (e.g., in France). It is hoped that presenting this history in English will provide others in Europe with broader elements for growing their movement.

Except for the Spanish case, all of the papers in this issue have been adapted and translated from a special issue focused on Latin America that recently appeared in the journal Agroecología, published by the University of Múrcia. We generously received permission for publication in English from its editor Dr. José M. Egea. Dr. Miguel A. Altieri, with assistance from the Latin American Scientific Society of Agroecology (SOCLA), was the editor of the special issue in Agroecologia, and played a key role in guiding the translation and submission of the papers appearing in ASFS. His important long-term role in promoting agroecology throughout the region is strongly acknowledged.

It is hoped that this translation of important historical seeds and roots of agroecology will reach a broad audience, and further contribute to and stimulate the current emergence of the “agroecology movement” everywhere. In order to develop the alternative food and farming systems needed to make the transition away from the current non-sustainable industrial models, agroecologists have a lot of work to do, and we hope that this exchange of experiences will help in this process.

ASFS stands ready to support and distribute the continued advances of this movement.


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