Building a New Agricultural Future

A rural woman harvests wheat. Credit: Oxfam Vietnam

Sopheap Meas in her rice field, Cambodia 2012. Credit: Simon Rawles/Oxfam
Paper author: 
Oxfam
Paper publication date: 
Monday, April 28, 2014

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that globally, 842 million people are currently undernourished.1 Shockingly, half of these hungry people are small-scale farmers and their families,2 for whom agriculture is a livelihood, providing food for their own needs and generating income.3 A failed harvest due to drought, or the loss of land caused by irresponsible large-scale land investments, can have devastating effects on the livelihoods of farmers.

This briefing makes the case for the need to invest not in industrial-style farming but in agro-ecology to achieve truly sustainable agriculture and food security for some of the poorest farmers in the world. Agro-ecology is the science of applying ecological concepts and principles to the design and management of sustainable agriculture. An agro-ecological approach provides a range of social, economic, and environmental benefits that, with the right policy support and associated investments, can be scaled up to enable smallholder farming communities to achieve food security.