From Agriculture to Agricology: Towards a Glocal Circular Economy


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The consequences of intensive industrial agriculture

Alternatives to conventional farming should be embraced to improve subsistence farmers' yields and to ensure adequate food production for the growing global population. The stark reality, according to the International Food Policy Research Institute, is that the world needs to produce more food with fewer resources.

Agroecology, a farming approach that mimics natural ecosystems, is an alternative method that can produce more food using fewer resources.

Small-scale farmers in Africa have used agroecology to more than double crop yields within 3 to 10 years of implementation, according to the UN special rapporteur on the right to food. Farmers also use agroecology to improve soil fertility, adapt to climate change, and reduce farming input costs.

In contrast, conventional farming is characterised by monocropping, green revolution technologies, and synthetic fertiliser. It is resource intensive in terms of capital, land, water, and fossil fuel use. Conventional farming threatens future food production by reducing biodiversity, and contributing to environmental degradation and climate change which lower yields.

Permaculture, a contraction of permanent agriculture, is a promising design system for the application of agroecology. It was developed in Australia in the s based on agroecology and indigenous farming systems. In practice, permaculture farms are organic, low-input, and biodiverse, and use techniques like intercropping trees, planting perennials, water harvesting, and resource recycling.


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There are numerous permaculture projects globally. However, they are largely disparate, small-scale projects. While experts have endorsed agroecology's ability to address food and farming problems, permaculture is not widely known, and has failed to draw broader funding and policy support. Permaculture programmes are more multifunctional than typical agricultural development programs.

From Agriculture to Agricology Towards a Glocal Circular Economy

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Transition to a Circular Agrofood System

Average Review. This note was discussed in a technical briefing with the agricultural committee of the Dutch Parliament in mid-June. In this leaflet we briefly outline the concept and perspectives of circular agriculture, based on our policy briefings in the Netherlands. Circular agriculture does not mean that we will return to the rural nostalgia of the early s.

Images from the period sometimes suggest a wonderful time that never existed: agriculture struggled with a high degree of illness, too little fertiliser, and the continuous risk of a bad harvest.

Alternatives to industrial agriculture: diversified agro-ecology

Circular agriculture is not a blueprint meant to strangle farming businesses even further with oppressive dogmas, market requirements and government regulations. Circular agriculture is a collective search by farmers, interested citizens, businesses, scientists and researchers for the optimum combination of ecological principles with modern technology, with new partnerships, new economic models, and credible social services.

It not only focuses on good yields and the sparing use of resources and energy, but also stresses the importance of putting as little pressure on the environment, nature and climate as possible. Circular agriculture means that we keep residuals of agricultural biomass and tfoodprocessing within the food system as renewable reources. By being much more sparing with scarce resources and wasting less biomass, fewer imports are needed such chemical based fertilisers and remote livestock feedstocks.

The politics of the agro-ecological movement in the Global North and the Global South

This means that the availability of circular resources will determine the production capacity and the resulting consumption options. Closing cycles will be the new model on which future agriculture is based. The model will not be restrictive; it will instead be a new paradigm that provides the freedom for a wide range of company styles and earnings models and, of course, it will be adapted to the social and ecological environment depending on the availability of resources, markets, and buying options,.

In short, there will be a wide range of activities varying from intensive to extensive; small to large, low-tech to hi-tech. A central principle of circular agriculture is that no more acreage or resources are used than are strictly necessary. Fields will primarily be used for the production of food crops. In order to use them optimally, successive crops will be sown, so that food will be growing in the field almost year-round. Whenever possible, mixed crops will be added to the rotation.

An important role has been established for plants that serve dual purposes, primarily as foodstocks, while the remains leaves and stems will be used as feedstock for livestock or biofertilizers to improve the soil. Grass for livestock feed will only be cultivated in areas where field agriculture is not effective.

The emphasis for this lies on multi-annual or permanent grasslands with various grass types and herbs. The food supply for livestock farming will be supplemented with residuals from field agriculture, horticulture and the food industry. In circular agriculture, the cycles are closed: as nearby as possible and as distant as necessary.

Optimal use of waste streams does not always mean that the cycles can be closed at the farm level or regional level.

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That is not necessary. Circular agriculture is a part of the circular food system, which, in principle, involves the entire world. We want to minimise waste streams across the world, but the aim is to ensure that cycles are closed at the whole range from local to national and international levels as much as possible. For livestock farmers, circular agriculture primarily means that they use roughage and other feedstocks from field crop production, horticulture, and the food industry as well as the rest of the food chain.

As a result, this will avoid feeding animals plant-based proteins that are also suitable for human consumption. To do so, the farmer will also examine alternative resources of the future, such as marine seaweed. They will also produce good-quality fertiliser by separating faeces and urine in the stable or manure pit.