Agroecology for biodiversity, food sovereignty and farmers’ rights.

Mavis Nhleko in her food plot which she has farmed using agroecology methods since 2012.


Biowatch challenges the industrialised food system and advocates agroecology as the ecologically sustainable alternative that protects and builds biodiversity, is empowering to farmers, and promotes food sovereignty – local community control over our food and the way it is produced.

We work with smallholder farmers (mainly women) in five communities in northern KwaZulu-Natal towards developing a sustainable agroecological practice: household food security has increased; traditional seed varieties have been reintroduced and are increasingly being taken up by local communities; and land, water and other natural resources are cared for.


We see agroecology as a way to work towards food sovereignty where the control of seed and land remains in the hands of farmers, and the land is used in an ecologically sustainable way.


Agroecology is a holistic science; a practice; and a movement with a bottom-up approach to creating just, ecologically sustainable and viable food systems. Agroecology works in harmony with nature and ecosystems, and builds on local cultures with their unique expressions of knowledge and practice that have developed over millennia around the world.


  • promotes food sovereignty;
  • empowers smallholders to be more productive and helps to alleviate poverty;
  • creates abundance where it is needed;
  • ensures food sovereignty and livelihoods for many;
  • conserves water;
  • builds healthy soils;
  • is resilient in diversity;
  • promotes zero waste; and
  • is non toxic and produces healthy, nutritious food.


Internationally, there is increasing acknowledgement that for life on Earth to continue, the global industrialised food system must change.



One of the key reasons for Biowatch’s focus on agroecology relates to the shockingly high contribution of the industrialised food system to global greenhouse gas emissions – approximately 50% (from the clearing of land, monocultures and intensive use of synthetic fertilisers, through to packaging, transportation and food waste).

Agroecology is the antithesis of this industrialised system, providing nutritious food, locally, with a low carbon footprint. We need a reconceptualisation of agriculture at a global level, with the emphasis on the local – and we need governments to put in place an enabling policy and legal framework that will support this.


Please see the PUBLICATIONS & DOCUMENTS section of our website for a wide range of agroecology resources, including these titles: