Agroecology — an approach to farming long practiced by Indigenous and peasant communities around the world — could transform our food systems for the better. Agroecology offers the promise of a win-win, where people nourish themselves while restoring ecosystems and addressing the harms and legacies of colonialism. Agroecology aligns with the food sovereignty movement because it is inherently emancipatory and democratic. Where industrial food production emphasizes scalability and proprietary technology, consolidating and controlling power and wealth, agroecological practices require wealth and power to be held locally. Producers must have the freedom, flexibility and resources to build healthy and just relationships in communities and among the people and the land.
It is also at the center of the food sovereignty movement, a global constellation of peasant- and Indigenous-led organizations fighting for the right to healthy and culturally appropriate food, produced in a way that is ecologically sound and socially acceptable. Food sovereignty is arguably the single largest social movement in the world. La Via Campesina represents over million farmers in countries. And the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa, which operates in countries, is the largest civil society movement on the continent. Agroecological systems are as diverse as the people practicing them and the places where they are practiced.
There is no doubt that regenerative agriculture and other agroecological practices can help address climate change, including by sequestering carbon in the soil.
Yet agribusinesses in the Global North are actively looking to agroecology to rebrand and build new markets under the banners of carbon farming and regenerative agriculture. Corporate plans to invest in regenerative agriculture appear to be mere appropriations of agroecological practices, hollowed out of their potential for supporting broad societal transformation.