Implementing Agroecology is a gradual process that starts from the current practice and over time becomes more diverse and resilient in a process that never really stops, because the society around the agroecology system is dynamic. In
this section, you will find short inspiration points for management methods on the different aspects of agroecology. For more inspiration and guidance, please have a look at the Resources and Manuals section at the bottom of the site by clicking on the links where you will find guidance on for example management of pests and diseases too (Check for example FAO Training Manual pages 61 - 75).
You can get a good start by having a dialogue with individuals and communities to map their situation, constraints and knowledge, understanding their visions for their productive activities. Based on their awareness level, help them design a gradual process that is likely to include: diversification of plant and animal species, improved soil management techniques, improved water management, and organising practitioners to share knowledge and improve their negotiating power towards suppliers and traders. Do this in coordination with local government structures and plans.
You may use Theory of Change to help clarify the changes that the farmers work towards. Add your own technical knowledge and share your networks and links to providers of experience and inputs. Continuously support individuals, communities and partners with the transformation towards fully fledged agroecological systems and help overcome teething problems that stakeholders may experience.
Advocacy on agroecology is not an explicit part of the DCA strategic advocacy focus (the focus is on Climate Change and Land Rights), but you can play an important role in promoting agroecology at all levels, among producers, in the cooperation with the private sector when working on value chains and when engaging with governments in policy formulation processes. Learn a lot more about advocacy planning at the advocac academy on ACTLearn. Search on ACTLearn for "Advocacy Academy" or use this link: https://fabo.org/advocacyacademy
Scalability of agroecology in DCA programmes will mainly focus on increasing the number of farms that apply agroecological methods and the total output from the farm - for on-farm consumption and sale. As we work with the poorest, we aim at scaling up horizontally as a basis for accessing vertical value chains. Linking quality procucts to the market will scale up incomes. At community level, organised farmers can scale up their influence and negotiating power.
Monitoring progress on agroecology: In a DCA programme, the work on agroecology is cutting across themes, and is most likely to be part of the Right to Food change pathways. Thus it contributes to the overall programme goals on e.g. resilience, income generation and political participation. Monitoring progress on agroecology should be linked to individual project outputs and outcomes, the overall programme indicators and the DCA global goals.
See a few suggestions for potential
areas for monitoring below:
Low soil fertility because of
excessive run-off in the wet season
Mechanical reduction of run-off:
Level the ground and construct terraces or borders with stones or vertiver
grass using an A-frame.
Sow or plant in small depressions to
capture water and give time for water to seep into the soil where the roots
Improve the infiltration rate in the
soil by increasing the organic matter in the soil – add mulch and compost to
Choose plants with deep roots to
expand nutrient uptake.
Reduce the impact of raindrops by
securing groupn cover adding mulch and/or cover plants that take the hit from
the drops and improved seepage into the soil.
Plant different trees - at best those
with multiple purposes and properties.
Make a visual assessment of landscape
modifications (use pictures for documentation).
Count the number of new techniques
that were introduced; discuss and document the effects with the farmer.
Dig a soil profile to observe the
depth and pattern of water infiltration.
Check the root system of crops and
compare width and depth with standards for the crop
Observe signs of surface run off and
compare with earlier years (use photos for documentation)
Count the number and species of new
Register the total output compared to
before and include additional benefits such as fodder/medicinal products
from each unit of land.
Farmers do not have access to seeds
and/or can not afford them
Train in seed production, seed
selection and seed storage.
Organise groups to ensure traditional
seed multiplication in sufficient quality and quantity to supply the local
area and for sale beyond the community. Income from sale may fund purchase of
new seeds for more diversity.
Note availability of seed, knowledge
of the properties of different varieties and number of different varieties
Note if the combination of varieties
and different crops utilise water, light and nutrients in a complementary way
so they increase resilience.
Grain production low due to striga
Plant resistant varieties or change
to a crop that is not a host for striga.
Manually control the parasitic plant
to the extent possible.
Extent of striga presence
Crop output from each unit of land
In most situations, these actions would be benificial: Modify the overall landscape if necessary, mix as many different
complementary plants and animals as practically possible, create habitats for
beneficial insects and pollinators, make compost and chose components that have a mutually
beneficial influence on one another. A classic example of the latter being a
large cereal (sorghum, millet or maize) intercropped with a legume – for example
string beans. They fix nitrogen in the soil to the benefit of the cereal, while
the cereal provides support for the climbing legume. Together they utilise the soil,
water and light better and increase the total output from the unit of land significantly. This could be a first step to be followed by many more.
Action must always be context-specific and involve the local stakeholders. For DCA staff, you can contact DCA Headquarters for specific guidance in your own case.