Five Ways You Can Transform Farming and Food Systems in 2019
Through grounded experience with our partner organizations around the world, Groundswell
International has identified key strategies to strengthen communities to work with nature to
improve farming production and family wellbeing. Farmer-led agroecology becomes a virtuous
circle that can regenerate land, nourish families, rebuild local economies, and restore
Five keys are:
Community leaders and organizations mobilize their local resources,
knowledge, skills, and solidarity by working together on issues they care about. Women
must lead alongside men. These family farmer organizations and networks are the
living ‘classrooms’ where agroecology is innovated, adapted and implemented in each
In Burkina Faso, for example, women’s groups organize to mobilize their own
savings and credit; negotiate access to land; put up fencing to manage free grazing
livestock; and help build wells to access water. They experiment and learn together
ways to restore soil fertility and produce vegetables, allowing them to improve family
nutrition and generate increased income.
2. Principles and Practices:
Working together in their organizations, farmers develop
foundational, ecological techniques to address the priority challenges they face, such as
improving soil conservation and fertility; harvesting and using rainwater; selecting local
seed varieties; and increasing the productivity and diversity of their farms.
In Mali this means farmers re-thinking their cultivation strategies by allowing trees
to regenerate and become integrated into farm plots of sorghum and millet. They
increase production by restoring organic matter and nutrients to soils while generating
fodder for goats and cows, and sustainable sources of fuelwood for families.
3. Creating a multiplier effect:
As community organizations become stronger and farmers
develop effective practices based on agroecological principles, we catalyze farmer-to-
farmer networks to spread and scale this knowledge. Successful agroecological farmers
and farms become the foundation of successful agroecological communities,
movements and landscapes.
In Haiti, we support a network of some 10,000 agroecological ‘model’ farmers
who invite other farmers to visit and learn from their experience, and provide them with
follow up training and support.
4. Local Markets:
Food consumption is half of the equation for increasing agroecological
farm production. By eating and purchasing healthy, local food, both rural and urban
consumers improve their own families’ health, ensure that farmers have markets, and
reinvest their food budgets in rural communities rather than corporations importing
In Guatemala, we support Mayan Achi women, for example, to produce, process
and sell their amaranth seeds and food products to local consumers.
For agroecological movements to thrive, we need to shift the goals of policy,
from spreading inputs for industrialized agriculture and consolidating farms, to
supporting family farmer agroecological production and strong local markets.
In Ghana, for example, we are working with partners and civil society allies to
create more rational use of government budgets by shifting subsidies from chemical
fertilizers to organic composting and to agroecological land regeneration.
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