In an open letter to Minister Thoko Didiza, Biowatch joins the African Centre for Biodiversity, Environmental Monitoring Group, Association for Rural Advancement and Tshintsha Amakhaya in calling on the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) to initiate an agroecology strategy and programme.
The letter calls on the Department to engage systematically and meaningfully with CSOs, including household and smallholder farmer networks across the country, to expand and support agroecological initiatives. This follows on from the disclosure in October to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development that the DALRRD had underspent by R1.3 billion for 2021/22. Meanwhile, CSOs that can provide significant support to realising stated government objectives receive no support.
So far 50 organisations have endorsed the letter (read the letter here).
In the letter we call for systematic and meaningful engagement between government and agroecology networks to advance agroecology as a key response to the multiple environmental, social, economic and justice challenges facing the country.
As household and smallholder farmers and organisations working on agroecology, we strongly believe that agroecology is an integrated and appropriate response to the multiple challenges facing both smallholder production in the era of climate change and global disruptions, and those facing the country as a whole in ongoing efforts to secure an effective transformation of the country towards democracy, social justice and redress of past injustices, and an inclusive economy.
However, despite the potential of agroecology to respond to numerous objectives of the government and of DALRRD in particular, there is currently not a single government programme or even pilot on agroecology.
For more information, read the letter here.