Friday, August 3, 2012

Agroecology and Peasant Agriculture

If you are not already familiar with his research, I would highly recommend looking at the work of Miguel Altieri because he is among the foremost academics that have been looking at peasant agriculture and agroecology. Altieri’s research contradicts commonly held beliefs and assumptions that peasant agriculture is less productive than large scale western style mechanized agriculture. 

Here is some quick references off the web:

With starvation threatening one-sixth of the world’s population, and the West’s technological solutions called into question—the Green Revolution of the 1950s and 1960s failed to solve the problem, and now the Gene Revolution, or agricultural biotechnology, is under increasing attack—many think it’s time for another way. Berkeley’s Miguel Altieri, an associate professor of insect biology in the College of Natural Resources, has a world-wide reputation for his alternative solution: “agroecology,” or sustainable agriculture, which respects the knowledge of indigenous peoples, protects the environment, and promotes social equity.

“I was trained in the West,” says Altieri, “but after studying ancient agricultural systems, I realized that Western knowledge is inadequate to deal with the complexities of Third World agriculture.” Altieri has an impressively broad range: he works in the fields alongside the world’s poor farmers, writes influential books and articles about the principles he champions, and attends conferences around the world, speaking out against biotechnology and in favor of agroecology. His advice has been sought by peasants, a Prince, and the Pope.”

I consider his work essential reading that underscores the values of biologically and human intensive agriculture -- particularly relevant to urban agriculture systems.