Agroecology for Climate Justice and Food Sovereignty. SSFs challenge the government to Act Now
African countries continue to increasingly face a climate crisis with vast threats to agriculture and food production. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2013) indicates that all four dimensions of food security (food availability, access, utilization and stability) are potentially affected by climate change due to their high dependence on rain-fed agriculture.
Uganda in particular, it is highly dependent on natural resources and ranked 9th most vulnerable and 27th least ready to adapt to climate change (ND-GAIN 2017). NEMA, 2017 estimated losses and damages to the tune of US$47m, equal to 3% of the value of all cash and food crops in that year. Further, in 2017, food prices shot to 30-40% above average-due to 2 consecutive droughts increasing hunger, malnutrition and poverty.
It is therefore not surprising that from Monday 2nd to 6th March 2020 during the national agroecology and climate justice workshop held at Mukono Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MUZARDI) organized by ESAFF Uganda in partnership with LVC SEAf, small scale farmers from 30 districts convened for a sensitization and standardization workshop on agroecology as a concept and how it can be applied to achieve climate justice and food sovereignty. This was through defining it and distinguishing it from industrial agriculture while understanding its approaches, principles and systems. Small-scale farmers also held horizontal learning from fellow agroecologists in the central agroecology cluster in Mpatta Sub-county, Mukono district.
Some small-scale farmers appreciated the fact that they have been unknowingly practising agroecology and agroecology not only address climate change but also a collective solution to guarantying food sovereignty, hunger and malnutrition challenges including poverty. As indicated by FAO, agroecology directly contributes to 10 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including Ending Poverty, Zero Hunger, and Life bellow water, life on land, responsible consumption and production, Clean Water and Sanitation, Affordable and Clean Energy and Climate Action among others.
Despite the obvious connection between the industrial food system and the climate crisis, and the obvious potential that agroecology offer to climate justice and food sovereignty, these links are nowhere to be seen and appreciated by government climate actions. Instead, governments seem to be betting on financial carbon markets and other corporate-driven ‘solutions’ that are false and isolated from the real world - largely to the detriment of food sovereignty, environmental conservation, and livelihoods through promotion hybrid and genetically modified seed and increase the use of chemicals in agriculture.
Further, the voice for sustainable solutions is suppressed and not being heard strongly in regional and global policy discussions on climate change. During the small-scale farmers’ agroecology for climate justice and food sovereignty roadmap development, small-scale farmers therefore committed to galvanizing their voices to be strongly heard starting from the grassroots and demanded that climate justice be integral to their everyday practices and formative to agrarian and climate change frameworks at local, national and regional level as they called on government to adopt and upscale agroecology.
This was concretized by small scale farmer’s discussion and contribution to the development of an LVC SEAf agroecology curriculum that will be used by member organizations in their agroecology initiatives under the agroecology school model.
Furthermore, small-scale farmers emphasized a radical shift towards food sovereignty would go a long way in solving the climate crisis: agroecological practices would massively build back organic matter (carbon) into the soils and largely eliminate dependency from corporate markets for chemical fertilizers and other inputs. Hence to them, dealing with the climate crisis is key to ensuring resilience, food sovereignty, justice and livelihoods and this can only be achieved through Agroecology.