U.N. expert makes case for eco-farming

March 8, 2011 at 6:35 PM
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BRUSSELS, March 8 (UPI) -- Small-scale farmers could double food production in 10 years by using simple ecological methods, a U.N. study released in Brussels Tuesday reported.

Scientific evidence shows that agroecological methods outperform the use of chemical fertilizers in increasing food production, Olivier De Schutter, the U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food and author of "Agroecology and the Right to Food," said in a release.

"To feed 9 billion people in 2050, we urgently need to adopt the most efficient farming techniques available," De Schutter said.

Agroecology applies ecological science to agricultural system design that can ease food crises and address climate change and poverty, the report said, by enhancing soils productivity and protecting crops against pests by relying on the natural environment.

"To date, agroecological projects have shown an average crop yield increase of 80 percent in 57 developing countries, with an average increase of 116 percent for all African projects," De Schutter said. "Recent projects conducted in 20 African countries demonstrated a doubling of crop yields over a period of three to 10 years."

Conventional farming relies on costly equipment, stimulates climate change and has difficulty bouncing back form climatic shocks, the study said.

"It simply is not the best choice anymore today," De Schutter said. "A large segment of the scientific community now acknowledges the positive impacts of agroecology on food production, poverty alleviation and climate change mitigation ... ."

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