PAR Newsletter No.19, February 2017


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PAR February 2017 – Agroecology

Greetings to all our subscribers, we hope you enjoy our first newsletter on agroecology!

Agroecology is a widely discussed topic, heralding a challenge to our current industrial agriculture and food system, towards a more sustainable and diversified one.

Agroecology relies on ecological functions to mimic natural processes rather than using external inputs in the form of chemical fertilisers, pesticides and input demanding cultivars. One of the core principles of such alternative systems is increasing species and genetic diversity in agricultural landscapes, as a means to ensure natural pest control mechanisms, provide ecosystems services and maintain closed nutrient, water and energy cycles.

Besides a scientific discipline and set of practices, agroecology also represents a vibrant movement that challenges the political and economic structures underlying the current industrial food model. The movement represents the voices of farmers, youth, fishermen, pastoralists, indigenous peoples and local communities and their vision for localised and diverse food systems. It emphasises the importance for community rights and leadership of local institutions, innovation, and cross-sectorial knowledge sharing.

Young indigenous community members in their paddy fields surrounded by forest in Northeast India. Photo credit: NESFAS

From the PAR network

Call for PAR contributions: As always, we encourage you to submit your story, publication or news to

For this newsletter, we received an inspiring contribution from Mexico by our friend Dr. Francisco J. Rosado May, researcher at the Intercultural Maya University of Quintana Roo, Mexico. The University creates dialogues between traditional Mayan knowledge and scientific research. Francisco shares the importance of local seed saving and sharing practices from the perspectives of local Maya communities… Read more

Maya communities
photo credit: Héctor Cálix de Dios

Agroecology and pastoralism: PAR friend Ilse Köhler-Rollefson from League For Pastoralist Peoples developed a participatory methodology for documenting animal species and breeds and related traditional knowledge, which we used during our project agrobiodiversity, land and people. In the agroecology magazine ILEA Ilse speaks about generations of knowledge pastoralist’s breeds hold.
Herders in Rajasthan, India
Herders in Rajasthan, India. Photo credit: Ilse Köhler-Rollefson

Agroecology and seeds

Zimbabwean smallholder farmers consider seed security to be an issue of national security. For them, access to the right seeds at the right time, and for the right price, is critical to being able to produce enough food to eat in the face of growing climate disruption. Farmer seed systems and community seed banks provide an important safety net for cash-strapped, vulnerable people. They also help small-scale farmers manage climate risk. Supporting them is an adaptation opportunity that is currently being missed.

Peasant seed systems feed the world and are resilient in times of natural disasters. Yet they face severe threats due to the increasing corporate capture of seeds and nature on the one hand and the accelerated destruction of agricultural biodiversity on the other. Right to food and nutrition activists can strengthen the work of small-scale food producers to protect their agrarian, fishing, pastoral and agro-ecological systems by granting seeds and agricultural biodiversity their well-deserved place.

Photo credit: Fian International

From Participatory Plant Breeding to farmer seed networks, conference Presentation, Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy.
A presentation on participatory plant breeding and ist relevance to Agroecology and Food Sovereignty in China. Presented at the FAO Symposium on Agroecology for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems in Europe and Central Asia.

Agroecology contributions from South America  

Agrecol Andes: Strengthening climate change response capacities of the life systems in valleys and head of valleys in the Municipality Totora – Bolivia.

A trandisciplinary project that includes four dimensions for Ecological (1), Economic (2) , Socio-cultural (3) and Institutional political (3) buffering. 292 families manage 45 ha of agroforestry land. Local bussineses for the production and processing of local, agrobiodiversity-based foods is spearheaded by women leaders of Association of Organic Farmers of Tatora.

Photo credit: Fundacion Agrecol Andes

LEISA – Agroecology Megazine.
members of the Alliance for Agroecology in Latin America frequently publish Spanish speaking news. A special section on Biodiversity contains multiple articles on agrobiodiversity.

Mollesnejta Experimental Station on Andean Agroforestry Systems.
Mollesnejta is located in Bolivia. The station has the goal of demonstrating that through diversified Andean agroforestry systems it is possible to recover degraded soils, adapt crops to climate change and to achieve a profitable, while protecting natural resources, despite adverse climatic conditions.

FAO´s Agroecology Knowledge Hub.
In December 2016, FAO launched a Hub aimed at maintaining and promoting information and updates on Agroecology from around the world with contributions in Spanish. The hub also provides a space to share experiences of FAO and their partners in Agroecology.

Upcoming events

International Congress on Global Peasants Rights, Neubausaal-Schwäbisch-Hall, Germany. 7.-10.03.2017.
The goal of the congress is twofold: to increase awareness of the situation and the urgent needs of small farmers, and to support the UN working group for the development of a “Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas”. Participants of the congress are first and foremost peasants and their representatives from all parts of the world, as well as representatives of consumers organizations, environmental and human rights NGOs, international organizations concerned with the topic of the congress, European decision makers, academics, media and general public.

6th Latin American Agroecology Congress, September 12th -15th, 2017, Federal District, Brazil.
On the 10th and 11th of September 2017, a pre-congress course in agroecology will be organized by the Latin-American Scientific Society of Agroecology (SOCLA).

!! Contest !!

Solution Search: Farming for Biodiversity, March 2017
Farming for Biodiversity is looking to identify and reward the most promising approaches to conserving biodiversity on agricultural lands. The main prize is $30,000. There are additional side prizes for community/social impact, food security/nutrition impact, biodiversity impact and water impact. All finalists will attend a capacity-building workshop and awards ceremony in New York, NY, USA. If you know of someone doing great work, you could win too – submit a nomination to be eligible for the $1,000 nomination prize.

Watch out for our next quarterly newsletter that will be about landscape restoration and agrobiodiversity, for contributions mail to by 15th May, 2017.

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PAR’s goal is to enhance the sustainable management and use of agrobiodiversity by improving knowledge of all its different aspects. It seeks to promote research and integrate, mobilize and share research findings on the sustainable management of agrobiodiversity.The PAR Newsletter is published by the Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research and distributed to members and other subscribers. The Secretariat welcomes news, letters and other items of interest from individuals and organizations.Address correspondences and information to:

Dr. Toby Hodgkin (Project Coordinator)
c/o Bioversity International
Via dei Tre Denari 472/a 00057
Maccarese, Rome, Italy


The Platform is hosted and supported by Bioversity International

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