Agroecology and small-scale agriculture
VSF International promotes agroecology as the only real alternative to the more and more industrialised, highly fossil fuels-dependent and biodiversity-destructive predominant agricultural model. We defend a diversified small-scale agriculture, based on local and traditional knowledge, adapted to the local situations and culture, that preserves biodiversity and a living ecosystem. In this, we support small scale family farmers as the pillar of sustainable food systems.
Integration of livestock and crop production
The integration of livestock and crop production is fundamental to improve farm production and manure management, as strong complementarities exist between agriculture and livestock in terms of nutrient recycling, animal traction, and diversification of farms’ outputs. Integrated small scale farms are by definition less dependent on external inputs and more resilient to climate variability. The use of intercropping, cover cropping, mulches and perennials are as well useful to manage and regenerate soil fertility, structure and biology. Our approach to agriculture is based on the re-establishment of naturally occurring ecological relationships, instead of their reduction and simplification.
Conservation of local breeds and seeds
The conservation of local breeds and seeds, the result of centuries of selection and adaptation to local conditions, favours the acquisition of economic, social and cultural rights for small-scale farmers. Local breeds are typically multipurpose and smaller than breeds genetically selected for mono production. They are usually more resistant to local diseases, food and water shortages, and extreme weather conditions. These characteristics translate into less need for veterinary care and an increased preservation of the ecosystem.
Agroecology, through all these practices, contributes to build sustainable food systems offering quality and healthy food to local communities, improving social relations and farmers’ working conditions.