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AVACLIM: Review of activities in South Africa

AVACLIM: Review of activities in South Africa

Partners

EMG is based in South Africa and has 20 years’ experience in promoting sustainable agricultural approaches with small-scale farmers and in establishing and maintaining networks of practitioners in the fields of organic farming, sustainable land management, climate change adaptation and water. As part of the AVACLIM project, in addition to leading the actions in South Africa, EMG was responsible for carrying out the activities of Component 1. 

Biological Systems Consulting & Research (BSC&R) also contributed to the project, implementing the assessment activities.  

Characterization of agroecological initiatives in South Africa 

During the first year of the project, the identification and characterization of agroecological initiatives led to the production of a total of 5 initiative sheets. These sheets present the background, context and development trajectory of the initiatives, as well as the main lessons learned from the analysis of the initiative’s trajectory with regard to the principles of agroecology (as defined by the FAO). 

Find out more about the initiatives produced:

Capitalizing on project results and lessons learned to promote agroecology 

The capitalization document, entitled “food for people, farming for planet”, produced by EMG during the final months of the project, presents the organization’s position in favor of agroecology, illustrated through the agroecological initiatives characterized by the AVACLIM project. This is an excellent document for illustrating the relevance of agroecology, and spreading the arguments for its promotion.  

Retrouvez le Document Food for people, farming for planet

Evaluation of agroecological initiatives 

The two initiatives evaluated by the South African scientific team were : 

  • The Overberg Participatory Guaranty System, created in 2017 to facilitate organic certification, previously unaffordable for small farmers, as well as the marketing of its members’ organic agricultural products. This PGS brings together 7 members, including 2 cooperatives, and 5 farms. 
  • The Heiveld cooperative was set up in 2000 to enable the local community to earn a decent living by producing and marketing organic and fair-trade rooibos tea. 

Read Enya Munting’s interview about her work evaluating agroecology in South Africa

Community of practice 

The South African agroecology community of practice, strengthened by the AVACLIM project, is made up of a wide range of individuals and organizations working towards ecological and socio-economic justice in South Africa. Members are diverse, but united in this common goal under the umbrella of Agroecology South Africa. They recognize and value the contributions of the various players, as well as each individual’s own experience. 

Collectively, these organizations work with 1249 practitioners (434 men, 815 women). A further 16 people, including trainers, practitioners and academics, are involved (6 men, 10 women). In addition, EMG, the local partner of the AVACLIM project, actively participates in the Agroecology for South Africa (AESA) network, which is a large, web-based collective of over 280 AE practitioners, NGOs, academics and businesses who regularly share information and events, and organize specific online events to build common values, solidarity and actions to promote AE in South Africa. EMG actively participates in this network, also playing a key role in working groups on research and advocacy, developing common objectives, contributing to and endorsing advocacy actions, presenting online webinars and providing information to the network on the work and lessons of AVACLIM. The AVACLIM project has strengthened this network of agroecology practitioners, enabling them to organize experience-sharing and advocacy activities, as well as capitalizing on the work carried out to date. 

Read the article about the Community of Practice launch workshop

Advocacy activities 

During the AVACLIM project, EMG partners and members of the South African community of practice carried out various actions aimed at promoting the development of agroecology, by valorizing the elements of the project.  

On September 28 and 29, 2022, a national advocacy workshop entitled: Sustaining our land, sustaining our society was held. The aim of the workshop, organized by EMG in collaboration with participants from the Agroecology South Africa platform, PGS South Africa and the South African Organic Sector Organisation, was to explore the contribution of agroecology to sustainable land use for sustainable livelihoods and to achieving land degradation neutrality (LDN) targets.  A highly dynamic group of civil society participants thus came together to share knowledge, experience and information, and developed common strategic positions and advocacy objectives: (i) the provision by the government of well-located land for agroecology demonstration sites, (ii) the establishment of a national program for teaching gardening in schools (iii) the revision of Law 36 of 1947 to allow the registration and sale of organic inputs, (iv) ensuring that the agricultural sector adaptation plan takes agroecology into account, (v) creating extension services that support agroecology. A total of 32 participants attended (14 men, 18 women), representing the agroecology constituency from different provinces of South Africa.  

The resulting declaration – Agroecology and the global environmental crisis. A civil society position paper

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