If there was a silver lining in the disastrous 2007–2008 food price crisis, it was that it prompted governments and international donors to re-examine their priorities for agricultural development. They committed to invest in agriculture and food security in a manner that prioritizes small-scale producers (especially women), enhances the environment and contributes to the development of rural economies. While their promises to spend more received media attention, the focus of countless other debates at the United Nations, among donors and even at the World Bank, refocused attention on how those funds would actually be spent. Choices about production methods, farming systems, types of aggregators and value chains, etc., will lead to very different kinds of outcomes for communities engaged in food production, harvesting and processing.
This is borne out by past experiences in international development aid. All through the second half of the twentieth century, agricultural development aid supported export-oriented production, rather than local food security. Donor support for agricultural food production and processing methods that simultaneously help small-scale producers realize their food sovereignty and protect the environment, would lead to a different outcome. Toward this end, we outline a set of principles and practices of agroecology.
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