Promoting Sustainable Agriculture for the Planet while Respecting Rural Communities
Farmlands are invaluable sinks for the CO2 released into the atmosphere. The carbon is then transformed into organic matter, which is a natural fertilizer. The 4 for 1000 initiative launched at the COP21 climate conference in 2015 emphasized the importance of farmlands in the fight against climate change and for food security. This issue is becoming critical now that demographic pressure is increasing and 40% of the planet’s soils are degraded.
Based in Montpellier, Agropolis is a unique platform where scientific bodies and institutions of higher education, as well as economic players and French and foreign citizens, can share information. Their purpose is to work together to build replicable agricultural models that are both productive and sustainable. A product of this interdisciplinary association spanning from biology to life sciences, Agropolis Fondation oversees initiatives including the “Agricultural intensification and soil carbon sequestration in tropical and temperate farming systems” (DSCATT) project, which is supported by Total Foundation.
Intensive farming practices such as overcropping and the use of nitrogen fertilizers not only release CO2, but also damage soil and prompt farmers to clear trees to access new land. The aim of the DSCATT project is to identify effective strategies for fostering long-term carbon sequestration in farming systems. Promoting responsible farming systems, based on agroecology or agroforestry for example, is a must. However, an initiative of this kind will only work if the project is run in close collaboration with farmers and takes account of their practical and financial constraints. Pilot projects using this inclusive approach will be implemented in Senegal, Kenya, Zimbabwe and France, with tens of villages.