As ecological farming and the market for organic food continues to grow across the globe, I’m heartened to see that the same is true in Spain, my home country, where we are going through one of the worst economic crises in recent history.
In challenging times, good news is welcome. This week we’re celebrating news from Valencia where the coastal region has just committed to more than double the share of agriculture land dedicated to organic farming, from 8 to 20 percent, by 2020.
This is great news for farmers, food lovers and bees!
On one hand, the demand for good food produced without harming the environment and wildlife is increasing. People are becoming more and more aware of the impacts of industrial agriculture on their health and ecosystems – and we are demanding ecological products on our shelves and plates.
On the other hand, many farmers, tired of being exploited by the industrial agricultural system, are seeing the benefits that ecological farming provides and they are choosing to jump ship. And it's not a leap of faith! People are in fact rediscovering the value of agriculture, good food, and the relationship of trust with farmers.
Food producers, consumers and researchers, in Spain and beyond, are contributing to a growing global food movement, made up of farmers markets, food co-ops, schools and community agriculture programmes.
But we need more: we need a firm commitment from our governments to spread ecological agriculture even further and supply healthy food for all. The current industrial food system is doomed to failure and we can’t allow it to drag us humans, wildlife and the planet as a whole to the edge of the cliff.
Despite steady growth in the ecological food sector, sadly it is still quite small when compared to chemically grown food. For example, in Spain the latest official data shows that only about 7 percent of cultivated land is devoted to organic farming.
If we want to address important challenges such as climate change, water pollution and loss of biodiversity and soil fertility – even hunger in the world – we have to invest in ecological farming and set some ambitious goals, to be reached sooner rather than later.
The government of Valencia’s commitment to expand ecological farming is an ambitious step in the right direction for two reasons:
First of all, because the transition plan is backed by 23 million Euros to make it happen. Then, because Valencia is the region in Spain that ranks third highest for pesticide use per hectare, and second highest for use of insecticides, which we all know cause terrible damage to bees and pollinators across Europe and North America.
As well as politicians making the right decisions, we must also do our bit to forge a future with better food. Millions of us globally are already taking action and, by making small changes to our lives, we are moving mountains. Take your pledge today and join the ecological food movement.
Luís Ferreirim is an Ecological Farming Campaigner at Greenpeace Spain.