Food Security Vs. the Environment: Why is there a conflict?
So, I fell off the blogging bandwagon for a bit, but a recent conversation has prompted me to speak up.
The other day I interviewed a food security nonprofit working with subsistence farmers in Africa and they don’t have any measures for environmental impact.They insist that they are first and foremost an anti-hunger organization, but I think if your goal is to help farmers increase their yield, you have to ensure that their land is viable for the coming years.
Over and over again I’ve heard someone working in food security/international development minimize environmental goals. I’m always disturbed by this because both food security and environmental sustainability are incredibly important to me. I hate that there seems be a perceived conflict of interest. To me, environmental sustainability (erosion control, water conservation, building soil quality, etc.) fits hand-in-hand with food security.
There seems to be this impression that caring for the environment is a luxury that only the upper-class or rich countries can afford . But, in my opinion if you are a rural farmer or fisherman, you are even more dependent on your environment and you have an even greater incentive to adopt environmentally sustainable methods.
I don’t know why principles of agroecology are not more widely implemented in organizations helping small-scale farmers. Agroecology is all about minimizing inputs and labor. Numerous studies have shown they’re effective in increasing crop yields. Are food security folks not aware of its benefits? Or are they skeptical? Is big agro-business pawning their seeds and fertilizers to blame for this skepticism?