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Week 5: Agro-ecology

Week 5: Agro-ecology

The ACT Alliance is working with farmers in Malawi to fight hunger by switching to drought-resistant crops and using improved techniques to increase yields. Read more... © ACT/Paul Jeffrey

In the 20th century, humanity produced more food than at any other time in history. But while today's agriculture and food systems are extraordinarily productive they have also created tremendous pressures on natural resources and eco-systems.

Agro-ecology applies ecological principles to agriculture. It tries to identify forms of agriculture which are based on restorative ecological cycles with techniques that enhance yields, rural incomes, and farmers' control over seeds and local knowledge, while reducing the use of fossil-fuel based inputs and conserving soil and water.

Many farmers in the developing world are already adopting and practicing agro-ecological farming because of the benefits it offers to them: more food, less cost, an improved environment, healthier families and communities, as well as greater resilience to shocks such as climate change and droughts.

One of the strategies in agro-ecology includes improved fallow practices. Marí­a Elena Aradas, author of this week's biblical reflection, reminds us that this concept already appears in the Bible (Leviticus 25:1 - 55), and of how this period of letting the Earth rest can be similar to our experience of Lent: a time of quietude and drought, but carrying the hope of resurrection and life. 

Biblical reflection:  Like a well-watered garden

María Elena Aradas, executive director of the Franciscan Centre for Studies and Regional Development at the Pontifical Catholic University in Argentina, reflects on agro-ecology, "sister water" and similarities between Franciscan and indigenous spirituality. Read more...

Background and resources:

Resources and links related to agro-ecology and sustainable farming. Read more...

What you can do:

Encourage reflection about food and sustainable agriculture in your own church or congregation. Read more...