Agroecology is defined by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as a set of agricultural practices that “apply ecological concepts and principles to optimize interactions between plants, animals, humans and the environment while taking into consideration the social aspects that need to be addressed for a sustainable and fair food system.” In addition to providing environmental benefits, agroecology also embraces traditional knowledge and supports community resilience. While the techniques vary by region and climate, these practices help to maintain biodiversity, uplift rural women and youth, and encourage agricultural innovation.
Organizations from the United States to Ethiopia are advocating for agroecology and supporting farmers who are implementing agroecological practices on their farms. In celebration of World Environment Day on June 5 and the ongoing work to promote agroecology, Food Tank is highlighting these 18 organizations that support agroecological farming methods around the world.
1. A Growing Culture (International)
A Growing Culture (AGC) promotes farmer autonomy and agroecological innovation through outreach, information exchange, and advocacy. Their work offers a holistic approach to supporting farmers. Through collaborative partnerships and AGC’s knowledge sharing platform, the Library for Food Sovereignty, farmers play a lead role in the documentation and exchange of information and agroecological techniques.
2. AgroEcology Fund (International)
The AgroEcology Fund (AEF) is an international organization that provides financial support to farmers who use agroecological practices. AEF has provided US$6.1 million to 293 organizations in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the United States. These funds go towards organizations and collaboratives that strengthen political and economic systems that support agroecology.
3. AME Foundation (India)
AME Foundation (AMEF) helps small and marginal-scale farmers in India better manage their natural farm resources. Using alternative eco-farming practices, AMEF farmers have seen enhanced yields and reduced costs. The Foundation works with farmers to improve farmer livelihoods in drylands through natural resource management, improved cropping systems, and the empowerment of farmers and youth.
The Asian Farmers Association (AFA) is an alliance of small scale farmers, fishers, Indigenous peoples, forest users, herders, and pastoralists across Asia. Through advocacy, capacity building, and knowledge management, AFA empowers its members to work towards sustainable rural development. AFA emphasizes diverse agroecological family farming systems and works on both farmland and forested landscapes to do so.
5. Associação Brasileira de Agroecologia (Brazil)
Associação Brasileira de Agroecologia (ABA) brings together Brazilian students and professionals from a wide variety of backgrounds. The organization was founded to encourage the production of knowledge for the agroecology movement. Through the use of issue-specific working groups, ABA provides space for its members to share knowledge and engage in advocacy, research, and education.
6. Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems (United States)
The Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS) at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) is a research center within UCSC’s Division of Social Sciences. In an effort to build a more sustainable agricultural system, CASFS aims to find alternative practices which are economically, socially, and environmentally viable. Key focus areas of their research include the improvement of organic farming practices through agroecological science and social issues that impact the global food system.
7. Cuba-US Agroecology Network (Cuba and the United States)
The Cuba-US Agroecology Network (CUSAN) was founded in 2015 to encourage the relationship between Cuba and the United States. CUSAN consists of Cuban and American NGOs, farmers, and academics dedicated to the agroecology movement. These different stakeholders work together to raise awareness about agroecology, raise Cuban voices on a global scale, and create a network of stakeholders through resources, workshops, conferences, and research.
8. EcoAgriculture Partners (International)
EcoAgriculture Partners emphasizes agroecological practices at the local, national, and international levels. One technique they promote, integrated land management, is a collaborative, holistic approach to agriculture that addresses land erosion without neglecting the needs of farmers. EcoAgriculture Partners work with farmers in East Africa, Brazil, East and Southeast Asia, Mesoamerica, and the United States.
9. Groundswell International (International)
Groundswell International works together with local organizations in West Africa, South Asia, and the Americas. These networks encourage farmers to experiment with environmentally sound agricultural practices and share their findings with fellow farmers through community networks. Groundswell also helps build strong and resilient communities by supporting women empowerment, local markets, better nutrition, and encouraging communities to engage in advocacy.
10. Institute for Sustainable Development (Ethiopia)
The Institute for Sustainable Development (ISD) works with communities across Ethiopia to implement sustainable agricultural practices and improve rural livelihoods. Founded in 1996, ISD stresses the exchange of traditional and modern knowledge through research and shared experiences. ISD encourages youth to engage in Indigenous farming methods and supports the exchange of technical knowledge. Doing so helps promote both cultural practices and preserve biodiversity.
11. La Vía Campesina (International)
Operating internationally in 81 countries, La Vía Campesina brings together millions of people including peasants, smallholder farmers, landless peoples, and Indigenous peoples in support of peasant agriculture. Through some of their key efforts, they promote food sovereignty, protect workers’ rights, and take action towards environmental justice. In support of agroecology, La Vía Campesina fights to maintain seed diversity among peasant farmers.
12. Navdanya International (India)
Navdanya International was created to defend seed and food sovereignty around the world. By promoting seed conservation, Navdanya International is able to protect biodiversity and encourage sustainable practices. Over the past 30 years, Navdanya International has conducted research on biodiversity-based agroecological farming to highlight ways agroecology can increase nutrition and farmer income while maintaining soil health and conserving water.
O Centro de Technologias Alternativas da Zona da Mata (CTA-ZM) was founded in 1987 to promote agroecological methods specifically adapted to the Zona da Mata in Minas Gerais, Brazil. Together with farmers, peoples from traditional communities, universities, and other organizations, CTA-ZM works in all aspects of agroecology. Focus areas include policy and advocacy, access to knowledge, the implementation of agroecological farming models, and women and youth empowerment.
14. Prolinnova (International)
Prolinnova is an international network of organizations and individuals that uses a farmer-led approach to develop agroecological practices. The network has created a culture of innovation and mutual learning among various stakeholder groups to support and implement environmentally sound techniques. Prolinnova’s network includes members from Asia, Africa, and Latin America who work to address issues such as climate change, food security, and water management.
15. Sociedad Cientifica Latinoamericana de Agroecologia (Latin America)
Sociedad Cientifica Latinoamericana de Agroecologia (SOCLA) is dedicated to promoting agroecology to maintain a sustainable food system in Latin America. One of the main goals of SOCLA is to coordinate and facilitate teaching and research related to the multiple aspects of agroecology. Some of SOCLA’s focus areas include food sovereignty, sustainability, and socio-ecological resilience to climate change.
16. Soils, Food and Healthy Communities (Malawi)
Based in Malawi, Soils, Food And Healthy Communities (SFHC) works with over 6,000 smallholder farmers to build sustainable, healthy, and equitable communities through agroecology. SFHC believes in farmer-led experimentation while encouraging the use of Indigenous crops and sharing of knowledge. Along with technical knowledge, SFHC also conducts workshops on social issues such as gender equity and engages with HIV/AIDS affected community members.
17. Traditional Native American Farmers Association (North and South America)
The Traditional Native American Farmers Association (TNAFA) was founded in 1992 following an intertribal meeting between Native farmers and elders. Elder farmers expressed concern over the loss of seed diversity in their tribes as well as a lack of interest in farming among Indigenous youth. Working with Indigenous communities across Arizona and New Mexico such as the Tesuque and Pojoaque pueblos, TNAFA develops and implements educational programming to address these issues and promote family farming as an answer to industrial agriculture. These efforts are aimed at both adult farmers and youth in order to ensure a bright future for sustainable agriculture.
18. Wageningen University and Research (The Netherlands)
The Wageningen Plant Research Institute is a multifaceted research institute at Wageningen University and Research (WUR). The Institute’s Agroecology and Technology Fieldlab facilitates multidisciplinary research to develop nature-inclusive and regenerative agricultural systems. Examples of research areas at the Fieldlab include organic farming, strip cropping, and agroforestry.
Photo courtesy of Arnaldo Aldana on Unsplash