No Agroecology without farmers ! No Agroecology without Conscious Consumers !

The 2nd International Symposium on Agroecology took place at the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) headquarters in Rome, 3-5 April 2018. 700 participants, representing Member States, FAO agencies, farmers’ unions, civil society organisations and social movements as well as researchers from all over the world exchanged on their practices and visions of agroecology. 

Urgenci, the international network of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) raised the voice and the visibility of local solidarity alliances between producers and consumers from all parts of the world. Jointly with the other Civil Society actors from the International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty, Urgenci supported a clear common message: without women, there is no Agroecology, without small-scale food producers, there is no Agroecology, without conscious consumers, there is no Agroecology.

In their various interventions, Urgenci delegates stressed the importance of the role of conscious consumers in scaling up agroecology«A global consumers’ movement exists today. This movement is creative and diverse and stands for a vision of agroecology that is clearly connected to food sovereignty and solidarity economy », said Judith Hitchman, President of Urgenci, during one of the plenaries.

Shi Yan, President of the Chinese CSA movement and Vice President of Urgenci shared her experience as a CSA farmer outside Beijing as one of the keynote speakers during the opening session.

Community Supported Agriculture and other types of local solidarity based partnerships between producers and consumers all contribute to many of the Sustainable Development Goals. They should be considered as a central element of the Scaling Up of Agroecology initiative that was unveiled by the FAO.

Nevertheless, several aspects of the implementation of this Scaling up initiative require caution on Urgenci’s part. Especially, that of major investors and large private sector operators who lay claim to agroecology, coopting the principles of peasant agroecology without transparency and accountability. Most importantly, there is a need to tirelessly refer to the fundamental systemic, social, environmental and political changes implied by peasant agroecology. 

As the Forum was closing, Simon Todzro, an Urgenci International Committee member from Togo, declared: « Although the FAO scaling up initiative shows a clear paradigm shift, we will continue our own daily work of scaling out, farmer-to-farmer, eater-to-eater dissemination of alternative food partnerships and practicing peasant agroecology on the ground in Africa and around the world ».

Rome, 5 April 2018.