Initiative progress on science in agroecology

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In 2023, the Initiative amply demonstrated the value of the foundation it established in 2022 for developing and evaluating agroecology innovations under diverse conditions. This consists of 11 distinct territories, referred to as Agroecology Living Landscapes (ALLs), in eight countries (with the addition of Senegal) as well as analyses of prevailing conditions and promising opportunities, which have informed participatory selection of entry points for the agroecology transition. Click on the summary image below to know more about progress in each country.

In each country, the Agroecology Initiative concentrates on one or two distinct territories referred to as “agroecological living landscapes” (ALLs), where it engages with food system actors and partners in a vision-to-action process. The identified entry points for the agroecology transitions are tailored to specific ALL contexts which differ markedly in terms of climate, farming systems, soils, and other conditions that rural communities face. In seeking suitable entry points, the Initiative has built on important experience that each country gained previously in applying some of the 13 agroecology principles.

Within a remarkably short time, the Initiative’s work with 67 partners – including 8 CGIAR Centers, the 2 international research centers CIRAD and CIFOR-ICRAF, 24 implementing partners, and 18 scaling partners plus local stakeholders in the ALLs whom play a catalytic role for systemic change through interventions that range from better on-farm practices and suitable business models for value chains to policy and institutional innovations, all informed by insights on behavioral change. Read more about our work in partnership.

In all eight countries, the Initiative builds on considerable prior experience with agroecology. For this reason, researchers conducted studies on how agroecology principles are already being applied across different value chains in varied contexts. The results provide insights into issues of interest to every ALL. For example, what factors drive agroecology adoption (e.g., the presence of training programs and grassroots organizations), and what factors limit adoption (e.g., farmers’ lack of knowledge about agroecology practices)? The study further examined promising opportunities to promote agroecology as well as challenges and appropriate responses, such as the selection of “champions” at the outset to overcome risk aversion and prepare the way for widespread promotion.

To evaluate agroecology’s performance under such diverse conditions, the Initiative has developed a holistic framework (introduced in this brochure, page 30) for generating evidence across scales and at distinct stages in the agroecology transitions. Through a consultative process with researchers and others, global key performance indicators were selected under four performance themes. The framework also used a participatory approach with ALL stakeholders to select indicators reflecting local interests and aspirations. Together, the global and local indicators constitute the Holistic Localized Performance Assessment (HOLPA) framework. Results from ongoing data collection will be used to assess how context-specific agroecology approaches affect the performance of farming households, thus providing evidence needed to recognize the benefits of agroecology transitions around the world.

Read more about our progress by work package:

Illustration: Main progress by work package in 2023

Research and support on gender, youth, and social inclusion (GEYSI) were strengthened, including contributions to the vision-to-action process for identifying agroecology transition pathways, to the development of HOLPA, and to the Agency and Behavior Change for Transforming Agri-food Systems (ACT) framework. The growing GEYSI team received training on the development of gender-responsive scaling strategies. A social inclusion study in five countries is identifying the underlying reasons for young women and men’s underrepresentation in farmers collective action groups and in agriculture more broadly.

The Initiative gains visibility and stakeholder support as it participates in different working groups and collaborative projects as a member of the Agroecology Coalition and Transformative Partnership Platform on Agroecology.

Ongoing research, such as the examples listed below are expected to result in scientific publications during 2024, contributing to a learning on how agroecological transitions occur and strong evidence base for investment:

  • Impact assessment research is evaluating how the Initiative fosters the application of agroecology principles through the development and adoption of innovations. This research employs quantitative and qualitative methods to measure the extent of the contribution and comprehend the mechanisms and reasons behind the achieved outcomes. Three baseline surveys (in Peru, Tunisa, and India) are providing important information on the adoption of agroecology practices.
  • A study is analyzing experiences with the participatory vision-to-action process that the Initiative implemented in eight countries to advance the co-creation of agroecology transitions. Another study is analyzing progress in the co-design of technological innovations.
  • A global report synthesizes findings from the rapid value chain analyses in each country to highlight important similarities and differences in how prioritized value chains may contribute to agroecological transitions.
  • In addition to policy analysis completed in 2023 (publications Webpage), Initiative researchers have started to develop a working paper on the political economy of agroecological transitions.

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