Agenda for Change
Practical Action wants governments, development agencies and the private sector to use agroecological approaches to improve productivity and resilience, particularly of smallholder farmers, so they become an essential part of national strategies for food security, economic development and poverty reduction.
At present most smallholder farmers and the rural poor tend to be excluded, bypassed or further marginalised by the technology transfer and commercial agriculture focus of current agriculture and development policies and strategies.
At the same time, there is a growing body of evidence that shows agroecological approaches have potential for improving both the productivity and resilience of smallholder farmers. Such approaches use the resources smallholder farmers already have (the land, crops and knowledge) combined with scientific knowledge and information. They are accessible, innovative and sustainable.
Like many others, we believe that market systems, and the resources and resourcefulness of the private sector are needed to achieve change at scale. However, agroecological (or low external input) approaches do not align well with conventional strategies to improve markets or private sector investment. We believe this should not dissuade us from working with markets or the private sector, but rather increases the need for investment in action research and learning on how agroecological approaches can be adopted by the private sector and incentivised through market systems.
Changing agriculture policy and practice
Our policy and practice objectives relate to improving the understanding and use of technologies by national governments, donors, development agencies and the private sector. We use a Technology Justice lens to help ensure agriculture technologies are: accessible for smallholders and the marginalised, make innovative use of existing knowledge and resources and, improve or preserve the environment and future generations.
Specifically, our work is aimed at improving smallholder productivity, in order to improve national food security, rural incomes (livelihoods) and economic growth, and improving smallholder resilience, in order to improve their ability to adapt to a changing climate and overcome other shocks and stresses, such as commodity price fluctuations or extreme weather events. To achieve this we call for:
- Agriculture and development policies that purposely include smallholder farmers and the marginalised rural poor, especially women smallholder farmers.
- Research and investment in agroecological approaches as a means of improving both smallholder productivity and resilience.
- Governments, donors, development agencies and the private sector to work through market systems and the private sector to provide a means of achieving scale - in particular to incentivise the adoption of agroecological practices in markets by the private sector.
- Policy coherence, as there are many factors that can undermine inclusive and sustainable agriculture