Exploring agro-ecological approaches to sustainable food production systems

Technology focus

Agriculture is increasingly challenged by climate change and environmental degradation, by population growth and urbanisation, and by ever tightening constraints on resources (land, water, farmers, energy) – especially in developing countries. To enable a substantially higher food production that meets the demands of 9 billion people by 2050 and to do this with far less resources than available today, there is a need to acquire and adopt innovations on a global scale. These should help accelerate agriculture’s capacity to provide higher and more resilient incomes for local communities and to deliver safe, nutritious and sufficient food for all at all times of the year.

This theme aims to explore how sustainable food production systems of small farms in developing countries can handle this challenge through natural and balanced agro-ecological approaches. The incorporation of such approaches is full of challenges itself but is vital to delivering a set of small-scale, farmer-friendly and resource-efficient solutions that can realize more resilient agricultural practices and provide populations with access to sufficient and healthy food under changing climate conditions.

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Potential impact on SDGs

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SDG2 calls to end hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030, and commits to universal access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food at all times of the year.

Progress is indicated by e.g. the proportion of population with regular access to adequate amounts of dietary energy, the reduction of stunted growth among children under the age of 5, the growth of agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, genetic diversity in livestock breeds, public and private investments to enhance agricultural productive capacity in developing countries, and the elimination of all forms of agricultural export subsidies. Sustainable food production systems and resilient agricultural practices are among the key factors impacting these indicators.

Next to a direct impact on universal access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food (SDG 2), sustainable food production systems also contribute to achieving other SDGs. More resilient incomes for local communities of small-scale food producers reduce the proportion of men, women, and children living in poverty (SDG 1), while by advancing employment such systems help promote sustainable economic growth (SDG 8). Enhanced access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food will also contribute to reducing the under-5 mortality rate (SDG 3).

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