UN report: ESAFF promoting agroecological techniques





The United Nations has acknowledged Eastern & Southern Africa Farmers' Forum (ESAFF)  as one of the grassroots organizations working to make agroecological practices a reality in East and Southern African region.

A  UN Report published March 2011 says ecological agriculture could double production in ten years while mitigating climate change and mentions ESAFF as one of the bodies, which has been vital in the growing of experience with agroecological techniques.

ESAFF operates in eastern and southern African region and right in its vision statement embraces agroecology by stating that the farmers’ network  strives to “increase small scale farmers’ visibility and promote sustainable agriculture and their sustainable livelihoods.”

The report by UN  Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Oliver De Schutter say “experience with agroecological techniques is growing everyday within peasant networks such as ...Eastern & Southern Africa Farmers' Forum (ESAFF)…..” , Oliver also mentions other seven networks across Africa... “which have accumulated experience that could be the basis for rapid scaling-up of best practices. The networks are  such as ROPPA, ESAFF, La Via Campesina, and PELUM”

According to the report, “the participation of farmers is vital for the success of agroecological practices. So far, agroecology has been developed by grassroots organizations and NGOs, and it has spread through farmer field schools and farmers’ movements..”

Agro-ecology is a mode of agricultural development which not only shows strong conceptual connections with the right to food, but has proven results for fast progress in the concretisation of  human right for many vulnerable groups, says  Oliver in the report.

Based on the local and indigenous knowledge and practices of the small food producers  agro-ecology only requires a political will to solve world hunger, poverty and climate change, notes the report.

The report notes that agroecology raises productivity at field level, where a wide panoply of techniques based on the agroecological perspective have been developed and successfully tested in a range of regions including Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia.

“ In Tanzania, 350,000 hectares of land have been rehabilitated in the Western provinces of Shinyanga and Tabora using agroforestry,” notes the report.

Regarding farmer field schools, the report says it have been shown they significantly reduce the amounts of pesticides use, “as inputs are being replaced by knowledge.” In East Africa, the report notes “the successful dissemination of the push-pull strategy (PPS) promoted by the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), is largely due to the demonstration of fields managed by model farmers, which attracts visits by other farmers during field days, and to partnerships with national research systems in Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia..”

ESAFF a network of small holder farmers that advocate for policy, practice and attitude change that reflects the needs, aspirations, and development of small-scale farmers operates in 12 countries in the eastern and southern Africa region. The countries are: Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, South Africa, Malawi, Rwanda, Burundi, Madagascar and Seychelles.

The UN Report can be downloaded at:  http://www.panap.net/sites/default/files/UNSR-Food_Report_Agroecology.pdf

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