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resourceS | SCIENTIFIC LITERATURE

Daniel López-García, María Carrascosa-García, “Sustainable food policies without sustainable farming? Challenges for agroecology-oriented farmers in relation to urban (sustainable) food policies”,  Journal of Rural Studies, Volume 105, 2024, 103160, ISSN 0743-0167
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrurstud.2023.103160

(https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0743016723002267)

Abstract: Research on urban food policies has focused upon downstream processes, thus neglecting an integral perspective of food systems, being local and sustainable food production one challenge often mentioned. In turn, in the debates on governance, the focus has been placed upon urban settings and actors, with few studies integrating production into research on urban food policies. These biases limit the potential of research on urban food systems to promote a holistic approach towards sustainability. Within the framework of a project promoted by the Spanish Network of Municipalities for Agroecology (RMAe), the present research attempts to understand: (1) how agroecology-oriented farmers associations are positioned in relation to urban food policies, (2) the perceived needs of farmers’ regarding urban food policies with a view to strengthening sustainable food systems, and (3) why and how the farmers’ viewpoint is missing from urban food policies. To this end we conducted 27 mixed interviews (in-depth interviews containing several survey questions) with agroecology-oriented farmers in 5 local associations linked to urban food policy co-production in Spain; and held two participatory workshops with their involvement. Our results highlight the need to strengthen agroecology-oriented farmers’ associations, and to use public resources towards the promotion of specifically agroecological models of food production and local markets in order for these to actually benefit agroecological initiatives. 

Keywords: Agroecology scaling; Urban food policies; Organic farming; Sustainable food systems; Local food systems; Spain

Luciano Zanetti Pessôa Candiotto, Chapter 13 – Toward the organic product certification: Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) in the certification process and the contribution of Ecovida Agroecology Network, Editor(s): Vijay Singh Meena, Sunita Kumari Meena, Amitava Rakshit, Johnson Stanley, Cherukumalli Srinivasarao, Advances in Organic Farming, Woodhead Publishing, 2021, Pages 209-222, ISBN 9780128223581
https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-822358-1.00013-4

(https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780128223581000134)

Abstract: This chapter discusses organic product certification, considering its basic principles and some experiences around the world. Assuming that agroecology is something more complex than organic agriculture and that Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) are linked to agroecology, it presents differences between third-party certification products and PGS. Based on the institutionalization of PGS in Brazilian legislation, the performance of Rede Ecovida de Agroecologia (Ecovida Agroecology Network), which also constitutes a Brazilian PGS: Associação Ecovida de Certificação Participativa (Ecovida Association of Participatory Certification), is highlighted, due to its role in the institutionalization of standards for certification of organic products in Brazil; in the context of acceptance and standardization of PGS principles by International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM); as well as in the creation of PGS in other countries, mainly in Latin America. Although PGS are not officially recognized in most countries, they have grown in quantitative terms and forms of organization and management. 

Keywords: Organics; Certification; Participatory Guarantee System; Third-party certification; Ecovida Agroecology

Anahí R. Fernandez, Gabriela Gleiser, Marcelo A. Aizen, Lucas A. Garibaldi, Intercropping functionally similar species reduces yield losses due to herbivory. A meta-analytical approach, Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, Volume 361, 2024, 108800, ISSN 0167-8809
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2023.108800

(https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167880923004590)

Abstract: Agroecosystem diversification is often implemented to diminish herbivory and reduce yield losses. However, increasing plant richness does not always reduce herbivory levels, so there is a need for better understanding which polyculture characteristics are effective in deterring herbivores. Here, we evaluated the hypothesis that functional and phylogenetic distances between intercropped species reduce herbivory pressure and enhance natural enemy response. Diminishing herbivory would be brought about by the complementarity and synergy of traits that deter herbivores and benefit herbivore natural enemies, and as a result of a decrease in the availability of host plants for specialized herbivores. Using a meta-analytical approach, we observed lower herbivore abundance and herbivory damage in focal plants when they grew in polycultures. In addition, polycultures showed increased levels of herbivore parasitism and greater abundance of predators and parasitoids, although the effect of the latter two was negligible. Interestingly, the functional distance between crops affected herbivore abundance and herbivory damage in opposite ways, but had no effect on herbivore natural enemy response. Contrary to our expectations, neither herbivory pressure nor natural enemy response appeared to be influenced by phylogenetic distance between intercropped species. Overall, our study provides valuable insights for agroecosystem design aimed at reducing yield loss by strategically intercropping functionally similar species. 

Keywords: Functional distance; Herbivores’ natural enemies; Monocultures; Phylogenetic distance; Polycultures

M.B. Goris, I. Silva Lopes, G. Verschoor, J. Behagel, M.I.V. Botelho, Popular education, youth and peasant agroecology in Brazil, Journal of Rural Studies, Volume 87, 2021, Pages 12-22, ISSN 0743-0167
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrurstud.2021.08.003

(https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0743016721002291)

Abstract: Most young people engaged in agroecology in Zona da Mata Mineira, Brazil, participate in popular education. Popular education is a Latin-American concept that entails transformative learning, among others. Despite the large body of literature on popular education, there is little knowledge about how it supports reflection, enhances situated abilities, and affects relationships between young farmers and nature. This article looks at popular education practices in Zona da Mata in three different places: a family farming high school, a youth organization, and a workers’ union school. Each place gives special attention to agroecology. Based on participatory observations, video recordings, films made by youth, interviews and analysis of educational materials this article visualizes how young people become engaged in peasant agroecology through the use of affective experiences, relationship-building, and reflection in popular education. Our findings show that the pedagogic method of alternation used at the family farming high school fosters on-farm learning experiences between young farmers and their parents. At the workers’ union school and at the youth organization intentional leisure activities promoted joy, spirituality, activism and peasant culture, with joy becoming an explicit organizing force. We conclude that, in our cases, popular education positively supports, often in unexpected ways, relations young agroecological farmers have with their parents, nature, and youth from conventional farms. 

Keywords: Agroecology and youth; Popular education; Transformative learning; Joy; Pedagogy of alternation; Scaling-out agroecology

A. Wezel, J. Goette, E. Lagneaux, G. Passuello, E. Reisman, C Rodier, G. Turpin, Agroecologia in Europa: ricerca, istruzione, reti di azione collettiva e sistemi alimentari alternativi. Sostenibilità 2018, 10, 1214

 https://doi.org/10.3390/su10041214 
 
Abstract: Agroecology is considered with different focus and weight in different parts of the world as a social and political movement, as a science and as a practice. Despite its multitude of definitions, agroecology has started to develop in Europe into diverse regional, national and continental networks of researchers, practitioners, supporters and movements. However, a comprehensive overview of these different developments and networks is missing. Therefore, this article attempts to document and map the development of European agroecology in its different forms. Through a literature review, interviews, active participation in conferences and extensive Internet research we have gathered information on the current state and development of agroecology in Europe. Agroecological research and higher education are most present in Western and Northern Europe, but agricultural schools and farmer training are also present in other regions. Today, a great variety of topics are studied in research institutes. There are a growing number of bottom-up agroecological initiatives and national or continental networks and movements. Important movements concern food sovereignty, access to land and seeds. Except for France, very few concrete policies for agroecology exist in Europe. Agroecology is increasingly linked to different areas of agri-food systems. This includes community supported agriculture systems, but also agroecological territories and some examples of product labelling. To amplify agroecology in Europe in the coming years, policy development will be crucial and agroecology advocates will need to join forces and work side by side with the many stakeholders engaged in initiatives to develop more sustainable agriculture and food systems. 

 
Keywords: agroecological; agroecology movement; agricultural policy; European agriculture; sustainable agriculture and food systems; teaching and training
D. Marino, F. Curcio, F.B. Felici, G. Mazzocchi, Verso una politica alimentare locale basata sull’evidenza: una valutazione agroecologica dell’agricoltura urbana a Roma. Terra 2024 ,13, 30
https://doi.org/10.3390/land13010030

Abstract: Recent crises have highlighted the vulnerabilities of global supply chains and, consequently, the profound need for food system transformation. In this scenario, local food policy and agroecology stand as two different but convergent paradigms capable of promoting an inclusive and sustainable transition of food systems, especially in urban contexts. The aim of this article is to strengthen the relationship between these two paradigms by proposing agroecological assessment as a tool for formulating evidence-based local food policies. Considering the city-region food system of Rome (Italy) as a reference context, the document proposes an adaptation of the Tool for Agroecology Performance Evaluation (TAPE) model on a sample of 20 farms to analyze urban agriculture and understand to what extent it contributes to the transformation of the food system. From the processing of the data it emerges that, in the city-region context of Rome, agroecological principles are not fully adopted by the majority of the agricultural companies considered. Furthermore, farms with the highest agroecological level are those driven mainly by social factors and have a lower propensity for innovation. This could be read as a binding aspect because it hinders and slows down the process of transformation of food systems. However, this data proves essential for the implementation of local food policy and for identifying paths towards sustainability. 

Keywords: food policy; agroecology ; assessment ; urban agriculture

P. Migliorini, V. Gkisakis, V. Gonzalvez, M.D. Raigon, P. Bàrberi, L’agroecologia nell’Europa mediterranea: genesi, stato e prospettive. Sostenibilità 2018,10, 2724
https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082724

Abstract: Mediterranean agri-food systems need to be properly managed. One promising path is the transition to more sustainable food systems through agroecology, which represents the ecology of food systems. This article describes the state of the art of agroecology for three representative Euro-Mediterranean countries: Italy, Greece and Spain. The analysis was based partly on the results of a dedicated bibliographic search and partly on gray literature and expert knowledge. After an overview of the history of agroecology, targeted research and education, collective action (political and social) and some agroecological practices in the three countries are presented. These countries share a rather similar use of the term “agroecology”, but differ with regard to (i) the existence/extent of strong civil and social movements; (ii) the type of study/training programs, the relative importance of the different scientific disciplines and their evolution; (iii) the development of political support and legal frameworks; and (iv) the development of concepts to rediscover traditional practices and apply new ones, often taken from the organic farming sector. Agroecology is an emerging concept for the Mediterranean agricultural sector, with enormous potential due to the peculiar socio-cultural, bio-physical and political-economic characteristics of the region. To promote agroecology in Mediterranean Europe, better networking and better involvement of different actors within a coherent institutional framework to support the transition are greatly needed.

Keywords: science; practice; movement; Italy; Greece; Spain

Andrea Pronti, 2016. “L’agroecologia come nuovo paradigma per l’agricoltura sostenibile. Un breve quadro teorico. IRCrES Working Paper 201605, Istituto di ricerca CNR-IRCrES sulla Crescita Economica Sostenibile – Moncalieri (TO) ITALIA – ex Istituto per la Ricerca Economica sulle Imprese e la Crescita – Torino (TO) ITALIA

https://ideas.repec.org/p/csc/ircrwp/201605.html 

 
Abstract: This article aims to analyze the concept of sustainable agriculture by developing the foundations of agroecology as a multifunctional scientific approach to obtain a sustainable agroecosystem. Agroecology has been recognized both as a scientific method and as a set of practical activities to study and design sustainability in agriculture on multiple scales, but unfortunately it is still unknown or limited to the sector of international cooperation. At the beginning of this article, the theoretical framework of agroecology as a holistic system of study and the evolution of its concept over time are studied. Subsequently, the concept of agroecosystem is examined, showing some agroecological practices and examples of agroecology experiences carried out all over the world.
D’Oronzio, Maria & De Vivo, Carmela. (2022). “Organic and conventional farms in the Basilicata region: A comparison of structural and economic variables using FADN data”. Economia agro-alimentare. 23. 1-17

https://doi.org/10.3280/ecag2021oa12775 

Abstract: Organic farming in Italy is growing fast thanks to an increased focus on environmental sustainability and consumer demand thus challenging the farmers to create new working models and territorial systems. Organic land in Basilicata is more than 21% of the regional UAA , an area that has more than doubled in size since 2015. This study compares Lucanian organic farming systems with conventional farming systems and their economic benefits and is based on 2019 FADN data made up of 24% organic farms. This study could help regional policy makers to design guidelines for the 2021-2027 programming period reinforcing the green growth strategy. In fact, agricultural policy continues to focus on environmental themes (Green Deal and Farm to fork), proposing new challenges to agricultural businesses who take advantage of the competitive advantages of new models and territorial systems.