As urban citizens, how to achieve autonomy and food security?

C. Petry
In Brazil, agriculture is characterized by intensive industrial monoculture over large areas. Family farming based on agroecology remains the main alternative to intensive pesticide-based models. However, even though 70% of farms are family managed, organic production is still scarcely found. Brazil is the world's largest consumer of pesticides and the incidence of diseases such as cancer, hypertension, diabetes and autoimmune diseases increase more and more. To complete this sad picture of public health, more than 56% of the population is overweight. This study aims to demonstrate how university extension activities in agroecology can assist the urban citizen to seek knowledge and alternatives in the acquisition and production of organic food. In March 2014, in partnership with various non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and with governmental support, was created the Center for Studies in Agroecology (NEA) based at the University of Passo Fundo (UPF). As a result, the theme agroecology and food security was present at the UPF through the elective subjects and courses of Agroecology and Medicinal Plants. There was a growing demand for lectures in several regional forums and it has established a great demand for distance learning course in agroecology. The main findings raised along with citizens were: a) increasing awareness of diseases originating from food and environmental contamination; b) growing disbelief in technical sales of products; c) increased demand for technicians who understand (and share) processes; d) increased demand for technical information of organic food production, aiming to achieve food self-sufficiency through urban gardens. It was concluded that educational activities in agroecology helped in the consolidation of identities and beliefs of farmers, citizens and university academics concerned with integrating environmental sustainability, traceability, public health and food security in a sustainable model for food production. In the heart of the matter, relearn, how to produce their own food has been the major premise, especially for conscious urban citizens.
Petry, C. (2017). As urban citizens, how to achieve autonomy and food security?. Acta Hortic. 1189, 423-426
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2017.1189.82
sustainability, urban landscape, agroecology, food self-sufficiency, community gardens, environmental education

Acta Horticulturae