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Agroecology and exit from food insecurity: policy lessons for achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2

Authors: Moses Kansanga*, University of Western Ontario, Rachel Bezner-Kerr, Cornell University, Isaac Luginaah, University of Western Ontario
Topics: Food Systems, Agricultural Geography, Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: Agroecology; food security; smallholder agriculture; Sustainable Development Goals; Malawi
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


For three successive years, global hunger has been on the rise, with chronic food insecurity increasing from 795 million people in 2015 to 821 million in 2017. Paradoxically, smallholder farmers in developing countries who constitute about 80% of the world food producers are the most affected. Despite having over 85% of its population engaged in smallholder agriculture, Malawi is one of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa that continues to grapple with achieving food security: with about 30% of Malawians being chronically food insecure while 60-66% suffer from micronutrient deficiencies. Subscribing to a neo-Malthusian narrative, some scholars have argued that to address food insecurity, global food production needs to be increased, and this increase can only be attained through high input agriculture. In this paper, we explore the potential of agroecology as an alternative approach to achieving food security among smallholder farmers using data from 514 agroecology-practicing households and a control group of 400 non-agroecology households that participated in a five-year agroecology intervention in Malawi. Findings from logistic regression analysis show that agroecology-practicing households (OR=1.71, p<0.001) were 71% more likely to exit food insecurity compared to non-agroecology households after accounting for demographic, socioeconomic and agricultural related factors. These findings suggest that in food insecure rural contexts, applying agroecology can improve household food security. In the context of the ongoing global battle against food insecurity, agroecology is a promising option for meeting the Zero Hunger and nutrition targets of Sustainable Development Goal 2.

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