Tanzania: Agroecology contributes to improving farmers’ well-being

A study conducted in Tanzania shows the positive impact of agro-ecological practices on the professional daily life and well-being of farmers.

A team of researchers from Newcastle University in England conducted 467 household surveys in rural Tanzania (East Africa) and found that most farmers applied at least one agroecological practice to their farms.

According to a definition formulated in the 1990s by Miguel Altieri, professor at the University of Berkeley (United States), agroecology corresponds to “the science of managing natural resources for the benefit of the poorest facing an adverse environment”

Mulching, agroforestry and intercropping

According to this study published in the journal Agronomy for sustainable development, the agroecological practices most commonly adopted in rural Tanzania are mulching (an agricultural method that consists in protecting fertile soils by covering them with organic matter) and intercropping (cropping different species side by side in the same field to improve yield and soil quality). The use of post-harvest residues and agroforestry (mixing tree crops with other cultivation methods) are also frequently mentioned techniques.

In general, the results of the various field studies have shown positive results related to the application of agroecological methods, even when farms maintain some of their practices based on conventional farming. The research also highlights the importance of educating smallholder farmers in agroecology.

“Little is known about how agricultural practices, especially those that are more dependent on nature, can influence the livelihoods and well-being of farmers,” the study authors point out.

More specifically, the benefits of these agro-ecological practices mainly relate to food security (enhanced by a higher soil yield) and the economic situation (increased family income and savings) of farmers. These daily improvements also have a positive impact on their psychological well-being.

“Understanding the impact of agroecological farming on the well-being of smallholder farmers in the tropics paves the way for the development of policies and programs that ensure that global food demand is met in a sustainable way without compromising the well-being of some of the most vulnerable people in the world”conclude the researchers who conducted the study.

(ETX Daily Up)

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