The dominating food production system in most communities all over the world encourages monoculture, a reliance on pesticides, and a lack of food sovereignty. The reliance on pesticides is not only a danger to health—as a carcinogen—and the environment, but it is also a way for agricultural communities to be reliant on other countries or corporations. For example, Nicholls and Altieri write how Latin America’s continued use of pesticides requires “importing most of its chemically based pest control products from industrialized countries (Nicholls, Altieri 95). Sovereignty of agricultural communities means freedom from corporations, or even industrialized countries, whose intentions are to distract from people’s own ability and power to feed themselves.
A resilient food production system would be centered around policies, corporations, and organizations all prioritizing supporting small farmers that use agroecological principles, grow a diverse set of crops, and conserve their natural resources. Agroecological principles, like growing cover crops or integrative pest management practices, are important to supporting a more resilient farm because they improve the literal foundation—the soil—and make better use of the natural resources in the area instead of buying inputs from international corporations, including fertilizer which support “nitrogen- and phosphorus- induced environmental change(s)” (Rockström 474). Growing a diverse set of crops, instead of monoculture, is critical because it stabilizes the farmers’ income and whether their consumers will have something to eat. By enhancing the agrobiodiversity of a farm (Altieri et al. 875), the impacts of this include more resilience against disease and having more sources of a farmer’s income to last throughout the year.
Policy, corporations, and organizations would all have to be involved to create a sustainable, resilient food system because the hardships and support for farmers are directly affected by their agricultural policies and corporate pressure. Firstly, policy-makers need to do a better job of supporting local farmers feeding their local community and awarding local food systems for their functionality and food sovereignty. Corporations are pressuring governments to stray away from local food systems and instead promoting pesticides, to encourage the privatization of seeds, and to support farmers growing monoculture of grains like soy (Oliveira and Hecht 251)—all of which compromises a rural agricultural community’s ability to rejuvenate their farms for another year of harvest on their own. Especially with climate change and the increasingly unpredictable climate, it is even more crucial that the crops planted in the ground are resilient despite these changes in the environment such as extreme heat or precipitation or droughts (Reyer et al. 1604).
A resilient food system will require politicians, corporations, and farmers to all work together and prioritize food sovereignty and local food production, instead of consolidating wealth and encouraging short-term yield as the only goal.
Altieri, M.A, C I. Nicholls A. Henao M. A. Lana. 2015. Agroecology and the design of climate change-resilient farming systems. Agronomy for Sustainable Development.
Nicholls and Altieri, 1997 Conventional agricultural development models and pesticide treadmill.
Oliveira and Hecht, 2016 Sacred groves, sacrifice zones, and soy production: globalization intensification and neo-nature in South America.
Reyer et al., 2017 Climate Change impacts in Latin America and the Caribbean and their implications for development.
RockstrÖm. J. et al., 2009. A safe operating space for humanity. Nature. Vol 461.