Agroecology Scaling Up for Food Sovereignty and Resiliency

  • Miguel A. AltieriEmail author
  • C. I. Nicholls
Part of the Sustainable Agriculture Reviews book series (SARV, volume 11)


The Green Revolution not only failed to ensure safe and abundant food production for all people, but it was launched under the assumptions that abundant water and cheap energy to fuel modern agriculture would always be available and that climate would be stable and not change. In some of the major grain production areas the rate of increase in cereal yields is declining as actual crop yields approach a ceiling for maximal yield potential. Due to lack of ecological regulation mechanisms, monocultures are heavily dependent on pesticides. In the past 50 years the use of pesticides has increased dramatically worldwide and now amounts to some 2.6 million tons of pesticides per year with an annual value in the global market of more than US$ 25 billion. Today there are about one billion hungry people in the planet, but hunger is caused by poverty and inequality, not scarcity due to lack of production. The world already produces enough food to feed nine to ten billion people, the population peak expected by 2050. There is no doubt that humanity needs an alternative agricultural development paradigm, one that encourages more ecologically, biodiverse, resilient, sustainable and socially just forms of agriculture. The basis for such new systems are the myriad of ecologically based agricultural styles developed by at least 75% of the 1.5 billion smallholders, family farmers and indigenous people on 350 million small farms which account for no less than 50% of the global agricultural output for domestic consumption.

As an applied science, agroecology uses ecological concepts and principles for the design and management of sustainable agroecosystems where external inputs are replaced by natural processes such as natural soil fertility and biological control. The global south has the agroecological potential to produce enough food on a global per capita basis to sustain the current human population, and potentially an even larger population, without increasing the agricultural land base.


Agroecology Organic farming Food security Industrial agriculture World hunger Peasant agriculture 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental Science, Policy, & ManagementUniversity of California BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.International and Area StudiesUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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