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Applying agroecology to enhance the productivity of peasant farming systems in Latin America

The great majority of farmers in Latin America are peasants who still farm small plots of land, usually in marginal environments utilising traditional and subsistence methods. The contribution of the 16 million peasant units to regional food security is, however, substantial. Research has shown that peasant systems, which mostly rely on local resources and complex cropping patterns, are reasonably productive despite their land endowment and low use of external inputs. Moreover, analysis of NGO-led agroecological initiatives shows that traditional crop and animal systems can be adapted to increase productivity by biologically restructuring peasant farms which in turn leads to optimisation of key agroecosystem processes (nutrient cycling, organic matter accumulation, biological pest regulation, etc.) and efficient use of labour and local resources. Examples of such grassroots projects are herein described to show that agroecological approaches can offer opportunities to substantially increase food production while preserving the natural resource base and empowering rural communities.

Altieri, M.A., 1999: Applying agroecology to enhance the productivity of peasant farming systems in Latin America. Environment, Development and Sustainability, 1, 197-217.

Part of development planning

Likely link— assessment by LAs

Strong link made by authors

Climate event

Local

Small network

Win-win

Social consensus

Operational

Low cost

Local

Multipliers could be significant

Medium term (5-20 years)

Managed resource

Strong link to poverty reduction

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