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By Miguel Ángel Núñez
Agroecology and its technical scaffolding, in addition to raising new forms of social organization, emerges as the only scientifically valid option to overcome the different challenges, threats and weaknesses in agricultural production. As millions of peasants have acclaimed and affirmed in other international forums, agri-food sovereignty must necessarily be seen and operated from the agroecological perspective.
Emerging social systems in agriculture
The collapse of the agricultural technocratic model of the green revolution of the last century and that in this new era, due to the sustained demands of neoliberal-globalizing technologies, is rearranged and consubstanced in the transgenic bio-revolution as the only and magnificent initiative to face the crisis planetary agri-food ethics. Faced with this great challenge, we are asked to continue firmly and jointly, in continuing to bet on alternative proposals for agricultural production, which support its historical deployment in agroecology.
Agroecology is called upon to face the desires of the biotechnological revolution as it has been conceived. Because the latter adjusts and prolongs its dependence on the demands of the free market due to the accumulation of resources, profits and speculative modalities linked to the financial-stock market-agri-food sectors. Agroecology and its technical scaffolding, in addition to raising new forms of social organization of production as we will see later, emerges as the only scientifically valid option to overcome the different challenges, threats and weaknesses in agricultural production.
We affirm that the evolution of agroecology rises, is pronounced and erupts in the face of eco-productive grievances that we are finding in our agroecosystems because changes are needed in the face of the dynamics in the means and modes of agricultural production. We continue to find the agri-environmental, social and cultural tensions abandoned by the bio-revolution in our fields. They are immediately required to be overcome by new, more efficient, effective and effective agricultural practices. We definitely cannot reproduce the alienating practices that predatory agricultural models have left us.
In accordance with the above and due to the nature of agroecology, it favors the rescue of the dialogue of knowledge, their traditions, ancestors and cultural reasons of our farmers to formulate and design work proposals and theoretical considerations in the understanding of a particular component of the agroecosystem that may or may not be affected. For example: if a particular agricultural technique, input or practice contributes or not to recognize the application of agroecological scientific principles, in the orientation towards sustainability.
The above dynamics also leads us to recognize the accumulation of knowledge that is intelligently interacting and organizing, once systematized, emerge as new theoretical reasons to advance in the theory of production.
As also stated by Leff (2001); The multiple techniques that make up the arsenal of instruments and knowledge of agroecology not only merge with the cosmogony of the peoples from which its principles emerge and are applied; their knowledge and practices are grouped around a new theory of production, in an ecotechnological paradigm based on the Negentropic productivity of planet Earth. This new theory of production takes its principles in ecological science, of the territory, in which the intervention on the earth is nourished by its ecological and cultural potentials, and in principle of photosynthesis that Ignacio Sachs proposed in the 70s as foundation for the construction of a new civilization of the tropics. (Sachs, 1976).
Agroecological knowledge is a constellation of dispersed knowledge, techniques, knowledge and practices that respond to the ecological, economic, technical and cultural conditions of each geography and each population. These knowledge and these practices are not unified around a science; the historical conditions of its production are articulated at different levels of theoretical production and political action that opens the way for the application of its methods and for the implementation of its proposals. Agroecological knowledge is forged at the interface between world views, theories and practices. Agroecology, as a reaction to predatory agricultural models, is configured through a new field of practical knowledge for sustainable agriculture, oriented to the common good and the ecological balance of the planet, and as a tool for self-subsistence and food security of rural communities (Leff, 2001).
That constellation of agroecological knowledge that has reached us, is becoming us and that intelligently will continue to emerge allows us to energetically affirm that the many productive, cognitive and organizational dimensions that will continue to emerge in rural societies spontaneously and without norms or laws to establish are tangible. its emergence and in the social relevance that also flourishes in those spaces.
Science with Awareness and Technology with Relevance?
We affirm that the agricultural predatory model was based on scientific and technological proposals that show that its results never considered, nor did they reason, the fulfillment of the elementary laws of nature. These technological proposals, in addition to continuing to create production chaos and uncertainties in agroecosystems; They continue with the contamination of transgenic and pesticides, generating public health problems in the populations. These technologies have always been solving the scientific and technical problems of agribusinesses that are totally removed from the socio-productive reality of small and medium producers. Contrary to agroecology, which implies social inclusion in its techno-political dynamics.
Situation that was evaluated for a period of three years (2005-2007) by the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) International Committee for the Evaluation of Knowledge in Science, Technology and Agricultural Development and who gathered to present their results to more than 400 scientists from 50 countries last April in Johannesburg South Africa.
The final declaration of such sustained work demands radical changes in agricultural production systems to drastically reduce the serious problems associated with agriculture such as: the pros and cons of bioenergy; the effects on climate change; the new role of biotechnology; the use of natural resources; the effects on health; the role and future of small agriculture. It must be agroecology.
We are pleased to understand that at another social, cognitive and unique coverage level such as the IAASTD, agroecology is recognized as an alternative to agricultural sciences. Not only for small and medium producers. It also works in any dimension and scale of production, complying with the principles of agroecology. This advance has shown that agroecological practices have solved the various agri-environmental problems, generating decent employment for us. Other qualities such as: the scientific and technological independence of agroecology is demonstrated in the works of: MAELA (2006); The Ecologits (2008); Núñez (2008, 2007); Pretty, (2006). Agroecology is poised to be emerging as the new paradigm on which the new agricultural sciences are based. Altieri (1987); Altieri and Nichols (2001); Altieri, (2005); Gliessman (2000; 2007) Leff (2001); (Núñez 2008, 2007); Seville (2001); Venegas (2007);
The reflections and investigations cited above as well as others, make us value the motto, both debated and discerned by the reflection team of our esteemed brother in struggles Carlos Lanz (2007), such as “Science with Conscience and Technology with Relevance”. Agroecology leads us there! By establishing new social relations of production where alienation, subjection and dependence on the scientific and technical means and modes of production are not subdued or controlled and continue to cause damage to our soil and water resources.
In the contradictory revolutionary process that is brewing in Venezuela, where despite the struggle and ideological technical-political skating of some middle cadres and expert advisers of different nationalities who make life in the agricultural sciences, it is undeniable that agroecology has an earned space and it is irreversible. A National Agroecology Plan is being debated. This requires more commitment to raise it to the right level of political decision that it deserves.
In this perspective, Lanz (2007) guides us in specifying a key definition that confronts the capitalist division of labor: POLITICAL SOVEREIGNTY AND FREEDOM IS QUALIFIED BY COGNITIVE SOVEREIGNTY, “BE CULTED TO BE FREE” as Martí or “MORAL AND LIGHTS ARE OUR FIRST NEEDS ”in Bolívar.
In other words, the integral participation that the genuine Venezuelan revolutionary process is producing, demands that a citizen be able to think “with his own head” and be able to contribute to the elaboration, planning, execution and evaluation of public policies, as stated in the Article # 62 of the Bolivarian Constitution of the Republic of Venezuela. In this way, unity between theory and practice is achieved in the social political process. "Knowledge is power". Lanz (2007).
The "popular peasant knowledge" feeds agroecology. Due to its social nature, its specific interests and the ways of operating coupled with geographical realities; productive; social and cultural. Agroecology calls you to think, reflect, live and act with your own meaning in the consensus of a productive process. This has been demonstrated in the reflections made by Núñez (2008; 2007); Prety (2006); The Ecologits (2008). In the aforementioned works, agroecology in the complex productive dynamics that unfolds and in the formation of new social systems, some connotations stand out and others do not, which reaffirm its emergent condition. Tending to characterize an agroecological production process by:
Participation: to generate elements for the design of endogenous development methods from the context of the agroecological strategy.
Self management: we value it as the work contributed to what constitutes the workforce of decision-making power through the democratic rules of participation.
Autonomy: the new social organizations of production must understand the right to direct and decide their labor relations in proportion to the work contributed.
Harmony: the rationality in the use of local natural resources provides a harmony between the maintenance or increase of the quality of life and the human development there implicitly oriented to the collective well-being and the complementarity of actions between producers. Núñez, (2007).
Application of agroecological techniques: the participatory development of agroecological techniques will strengthen the local capacity for experimentation of producers with the specific natural resources and material base of their agro-ecosystem.
Innovation: create and evaluate indigenous technologies, articulated with external technologies that, through their testing and adaptation, allow them to be incorporated into the cultural heritage of knowledge and ingenuity that is dammed among our peasants inherent to their productive systems. It is about not continuing with modernizing and industrialized practices by introducing practices and sources of environmental degradation.
Comprehensiveness: referring to the management of natural resources. Agriculture, agroforestry, livestock and forestry must be applied to all the potentialities of use of the different resources existing in the area. The establishment of socio-cultural economic activities that cover the greatest number of new sectors for the social and solidarity economy should be sought, increasing the benefit and well-being of the community.
Associated work: it is understood by the regime of social discipline, duties and environmental rights collectively assumed with respect to productive management
The methodology: agroecological, part of the local productive processes, which implies that its contents must always be contextualized by being flexible, born from the social-productive reality, and not from rigid, closed, a priori defined, imposed, standardized schemes. Agroecological systems are diverse; decentralized and adapted to different agroecological conditions.
On June 3-5, the FAO-Summit was held in Rome with the presence of 50 heads of state and 150 ministers. Social movements were not allowed to participate. There a part of the failure of another summit was demonstrated. Not accepting that the advances of agroecology are presented on a planetary level makes sense to the extent that the new vision and mission of agri-food sovereignty is blurred.
As millions of peasants have acclaimed and affirmed in other international forums, agri-food sovereignty must necessarily be seen and operated from the agroecological perspective. From this perspective, it is based on a strategic environmental political nature, where we energetically advance in the new productive processes in rural and urban areas. With a new sense of organization of science and technology that proves to be less wasteful of resources and energy. A science for all where the values of co-responsibility, equity and harmony are located in the south of sustainability to continue overcoming the many scourges of social exclusion.
Agroecology, given the social nature that it prints, is becoming a basic tool; to take seriously and co-responsibly their actions not only for the deployment of productive and social actions. Also due to its emergent nature, it intelligently contributes to harmonize, agree and agree on techno-political agendas of common missions that have to articulate objectives and strategic actions between organizations and institutions. A condition that we will be demonstrating at the II CENDITEL Conference (www.cenditel.gob.ve) from July 7 to 11 in Mérida when we present the process of forming an emerging social network which, among other things, is its great and important common mission : it is to recover and regenerate the soils and water courses of the Venezuelan Andean páramo.
Altieri M. A. (1987) Scientific Bases of Agroecology. Biological Control Division. University of California. Berkely. USES.
Altieri M.A and Nicholls C 2001. Agroecology: principles and strategies for a sustainable agriculture in Latin America in the XXI Century. Available at www.agroeco.org
Altieri, M.A. 2005 Agroecological Bases for the Conversion of Organic Agriculture Video. CASRD and University of Berkeley.
World Social Forum (WSF) 2006. Caracas Venezuela. Latin American Agroecological Movement (MAELA).
Gliessman, S.R. (2000) Agroecology. Ecological Processes in Sustainable Agriculture, Porto Alegre. Brazil
Lanz, C. 2007a Generating issues and guiding questions of the university constituency http://www.aporrealos.org/educacion/a37726.html
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Nuñez, M. (2008) Agroecology on Earth Day. http://www.biodiversidadla.org/content/view/full/40557
Nuñez, M.A: (2007) Agroecology in the Venezuelan Agrifood Sovereignty. Ed. IPIAT, Mérida, Venezuela
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Venegas, C. Ranaboldo, C. (2007). Staggering Agroecology. International Development Research Center (IDRC), Ottawa, ON K1G 3H9 Canada www.idrc.ca