What is Agroecology?
Agroecology is an approach to the study of agriculture that accounts for the diverse social, ecological, and political contexts in which it takes place. SFHC promotes agroecological farming practices to help communities increase soil fertility, sustain nutritious and diverse diets, encourage democratic leadership and gender equity, and build resilience against climate change.
From the FAO Agroecology Knowledge Hub:
“Agroecology is based on applying ecological concepts and principles to optimize interactions between plants, animals, humans and the environment while taking into consideration the social aspects that need to be addressed for a sustainable and fair food system. By building synergies, agroecology can support food production and food security and nutrition while restoring the ecosystem services and biodiversity that are essential for sustainable agriculture. Agroecology can play an important role in building resilience and adapting to climate change.
Agroecology is based on context-specific design and organization, of crops, livestock, farms and landscapes. It works with solutions that conserve above and below ground biodiversity as well as cultural and knowledge diversity with a focus on women’s and youth’s role in agriculture.”
To better understand the entangled elements of agroecology, the FAO has also created a helpful guide on The 10 Elements of Agroecology. We hope you’ll check it out.
What do we do?
The Soils, Food and Healthy Communities (SFHC) project in Ekwendeni, northern Malawi, began in 2000 with thirty farmers, and is now working with over 4000 farmers. It is a participatory project, in which farmers try to improve soil fertility, food security and nutrition through the use of grain or perennial legumes (e.g. peanut or soyabean). The legumes fix nitrogen from the atmosphere, such that when the leaves and roots are incorporated directly into the soil they add nitrogen, other nutrients and organic matter. Farmers can then grow another crop in the improved soil the following year (e.g. maize) and eat the edible grain legume. Subsequently it is hoped that this will lead to an increased food productivity which will in turn enhance food availability within households of resource-poor farmers, which is part of what defines house hold food security.