By Jim Scown
24th March 2022
The Food, Farming and Countryside Commission (FFCC) is hugely appreciative of the work that has gone into the SEFARI fellowship report, supported by the James Hutton Institute, examining the transition to agroecology on the ground in Scotland.
FFCC’s confidence in an agroecological future is built on our Farming for Change research, which showed how a transition to agroecology can help mitigate and adapt to climate change, restore wildlife and ecosystems, and provide a healthy and nutritious diet for all.
Scotland is at the forefront of this transition, as the report shows. Agroecology already plays an important role in Scottish farming practice and there is huge potential for sector-wide change to deliver Scottish policy on climate, nature, health, and rural support and to ensure businesses and communities are resilient to geopolitical shocks. This report sets out steps to help Scotland move to an agroecological food system, where food is sustainably produced, nutritious and affordable for all.
The transition the FFCC called for in Our Future in the Land and more recently in Farming for Change is already underway in Scotland. People from a broad range of farming systems, enterprises and backgrounds are using agroecological practices, and often have been for some time. Agroecology offers a series of broad and inclusive pathways to sustainability for farmers, crofters, and communities.
Scotland can be at the forefront of the agroecological transition. But for a sector-wide transition, food producers need to know more about the economic, social and environmental advantages of agroecological practices – the benefits agroecology brings to landscapes, communities, businesses and individuals. To enable the transition to agroecology across the Scottish food system, farmers, crofters, growers and land managers need improved support in three key areas:
Scotland can be, and in some ways already is, at the forefront of the global agroecological transition. Long-held practices followed by Scottish farmers and crofters align with agroecology, and Scotland is in many ways a leader in the transition. Respondents agree that Scotland needs more diversified farming systems that can produce food, regenerate the environment, and are resilient to external shocks so more can be done. Diversification, sustainability and agroecological practices can ensure rural communities can mitigate and adapt to climate change while restoring nature and keeping people and their skills at the heart of the countryside.
To take agroecology from the level of practice on farm to systemic transition for Scottish food and farming, the Scottish government can focus on support and investment for agroecological farming and help to put in place market signals that give clarity to farmers. This can make farming a central solution to the biodiversity, climate and health emergencies, growing nutritious food, which is at the heart of sustainable food systems, creating good green jobs, and helping individuals and communities thrive and flourish.