Current food production methods are harming the planet while failing to provide millions of the world’s poor with enough to eat, the UN food agency warned Tuesday.
Instead, the adoption of “agroecology”, which improves soil quality and costs less for farmers, would help reverse growing food insecurity, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said.
“We need to put forward sustainable food systems that offer healthy and nutritious food, and also preserve the environment,” FAO director general Jose Graziano da Silva said.
He was speaking at the second International Agroecology Symposium, a three-day event that kicked off Tuesday at FAO headquarters in Rome.
The chemical-heavy processes used to produce foods since the end of World War II have increased production while causing immense damage to the planet, he said.
“Soils, forests, water, air quality and biodiversity continue to deteriorate as this increase in production at all costs has not eradicated hunger in the world,” he added.
According to the FAO’s 2018 report on food crises, 124 million people in 51 countries or territories face “acute levels” of food insecurity, compared with 108 million in 2016.
Bukar Tijani, FAO’s assistant director general for Africa, said in February that 224 million people are under-nourished in Africa as climate change and conflicts heighten food insecurity across the continent.
Some 30 countries have adopted a legislative or regulatory framework to facilitate the development of agroecology, Graziano da Silva said.
Vijay Kumar, agriculture councillor for the Indian state of Andra Pradesh, told AFP that the state government has decided that 80 percent of the state’s six million farmers should convert to agroecology by 2024.
Current methods are leaving peasants penniless, he said, adding that India has been hit by “waves of peasant suicide.”
“We want food production to increase among happy farmers,” Kumar said.