Goals: SOCLA promotes the development of the science of agroecology as the scientific basis of a sustainable rural development strategy in Latin America. To accomplish its objectives SOCLA organizes one scientific congress every three years, short training courses in various countries, produces publications on key issues and maintains working groups that provide information, analysis and technical advise to a number of civil and farmers organizations involved in agoecology in the region.
In Latin America agroecology has developed rapidly in the last two decades. Hundreds of NGOs have used the science to promote sustainable agriculture initiatives, several universities have created courses, undergraduate and masters programs on the subject, some governments ( Brasil, Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru) have
incorporated agroecology as part of their rural development strategy and recently rural movements (via campesina, MST, MPA etc) have embraced agroecology to promote their agenda on food sovereignty. Currently, there is no organized space of academics ( professors, researchers, extensionists) committed to agroecology to engage in common analysis of major forces shaping the future of agricultuire in the region and provide information on alternative technologies that are more socially just and environmentally sound, along with market or policy scenarios conducive to food sovereignty and sustainable rural develo pment. SOCLA would fill in this gap by making sustainable agriculture scientific research, education and extension available to the various stakeholders via a series of educational, outreach and research activities.
Strategic Plan: SOCLA defined a strategic plan at its first regional scientific congress held in Medellin, Colombia, last August 2007. Several working groups have been formed to engage in analysis, research, education and outreach on pressing contemporary problems affecting Latin America ( i.e. climate change, the emergence of biotechnology and biodiesel crops, impacts of globalization and free trade agreements, food sovereignty, etc), as well as a major analysis of the state of art of agroecology on various scientific fields such as soil management, pest management, indicators of sustainability, ecological economics, ethnoecology and rural development. Working groups will conduct research, analysis and outreach on key issues defining sustainable agriculture in the region, informing rural social movements and civil society on trends, challenges and opportunities affecting food systems, thus improving their work on development of technological alternatives, fair marketing systems, local rural development strategies and policy change conducive to sustainable food systems. SOCLA will also widely publish results of the working groups via a website, a journal and a series of white papers. These works will be posted in a new interactive website for discussion among members and access by civil society. A series of graduate and web-based courses on agroecology and the creation of a scientific journal are planned. SOCLA also launched a competitive small grant program to stimulate young student involvement in research in key areas of agroecology and sustainable rural development.
Activities: SOCLA will implement its strategic plan in order to better understand the challenges facing agriculture and food systems in the region and provide guidelines for alternatives that will lead towards more sustainable food systems. Working groups will be formed and supported to engage in a thorough analysis of the state of the art of agroecology in various fields ( soil and pest management, ecological economics, indicators of sustainability, ethoecology, rural development, etc) and its application to sustainable rural development in the region. In particular the groups will provide clarity on the impacts of emerging trends ( climate change, biofuel expansion, etc) and how to address such challenges within a food sovereignty and sustainable rural development framework. SOCLA will produce a number of publications and a website where such analysis is posted, and the generated information will provide the basis for training course s, graduate level training and conferences etc , making sure the information is widely available to farmers, students and professionals. A small competitive grants program has been launched to stimulate research among advanced undergraduate and graduate students on issues and problems of strategic importance. Results from such research will be published in SOCLA's journal and the website. A selection of the research work will be presented at the second regional congress of SOCLA in Curitiba, Brasil next October 2009, to be held in conjunction with the Brasilian Association of Agroecology.
Expected impacts of SOCLA’s work: A great number of organizations ( Universities, NGOs, organized farmers organizations, etc) working on sustainable agriculture will be empowered by authoritative studies and/or other educational -outreach activities organized and/or endorsed by SOCLA on issues of major importance to the future path of agriculture in the region. For example, there is today a major push in the region to devote large amounts of agricultural lands to the production of biofuel crops, but no authoritative study coming out of a major scientific society exists analyzing what will be the impacts of such developments on food security, biodiversity , etc in the region. Similarly, researchers have developed models predicting impacts of climate change on agricultural productivity, but studies on how to make agroecosystems resilient to climate drought or erratic rainfall patterns are sorely lacking. SOCLA has established collaborative links with many Unive rsities, NGO netowrks (MAELA, RAPAL, GALCI, etc) and organized social movements ( ACLOC_Via campesina, MPA-Brasil, ANAP-Cuba, ANPE-Peru, etc) therefore SOCLA's research results and analysis will provide key ingredients to farmers organizations in alliance with civil society to engage in activities to develop alternative technologies, re-direct policy and develop innovative markets.
The scaling up of agroecology: spreading the hope for food sovereignty and resiliency
SOCLA’s Rio+20 position paper prepared by Miguel A Altieri, with contributions by Clara Nicholls, Fernando Funes and other members of SOCLA. A contribution to discussions at Rio+20 on issues at the interface of hunger, agriculture, environment and social justice. May, 2012
The Latin American Scientific Society of Agroecology (SOCLA): a network of researchers, professors, extentionists and other professionals to promote agroecological alternatives to confront the crisis of industrial agriculture in the region
Climate change and small farmers adaptive strategies (Altieri and Nicholls) ALTIERI-NICHOLLS CLIMATIC CHANGE