A policy revolution is needed to put agroecology at the heart of agriculture in Africa. With the right conditions, public policies can support, enable and scale up the practice of agroecology. To achieve this, we must prioritise public goods such as storage facilities, market access, agricultural research and cooperative support over private goods that require subsidies such as certified seeds, fertilisers and pesticides.
Three key processes should be considered when designing public policies to support and promote agroecological practices. It is necessary to unblock ideological barriers, particularly entrenched beliefs that large monoculture and industrial systems are more productive than diversified, small-sized agricultural systems, and that synthetic chemical inputs are indispensable.
Second, public policies must promote and show an understanding of the best tools to facilitate agroecological practices. These include farmer-to-farmer knowledge sharing, farmer-scientist collaborations and ecological agriculture extension activities.
A third step involves scaling up (enabling farmers) and scaling out (outward reach of farmer-to-farmer networks and more available land) of agroecology through policies, programs, legislation, and resource allocation.
Public policies must focus on health and nutrition – and break with the use of agrochemicals. Greater regulation and phasing out of unhealthy, processed foods, incentives for the marketing of fresh and local produce and public health education programs on the benefits of diverse diets are all required.
A supportive economic environment needs to be created that protects farmers from volatile commodity prices and dumping of subsidised products. The focus must shift from an export-oriented economy to one that strengthens local food systems and prevents the global food chain from dominating local markets.