RE: Evaluating agroecology: what is your experience? | Eval Forward

Thank you Seda for highlighting the TAPE tool. I had heard about it from the SDG 2 review we did in 2019/20, which you kindly referenced.

The TAPE guidelines provide very good sample questionnaires in annex, which could be adapted locally and used by evaluators (and others) to build their own tool or questionnaire. The questions included in there also help not just measure but also define agro-ecology by expliciting a number of key variables.

So the TAPE guidelines help answer the remark of Laurent on the need to define what success looks like in the transition to agroecology. I think this is an important issue.

There has been very little progress on the transition to more sustainable agriculture, and one of the reasons may be that we don't necessarily agree on what success looks like. While it has produced interesting experiences by civil society and farmer organizations since the 1980s, agroecology has so far failed to convince decision makers in ministries of agriculture -- except in a handful of countries such as Senegal, thanks to the relentless efforts of ENDA Pronat, its secretary Mariam Sow and many others.

Agroecology is even perceived as ideological or militant by certain governments, due to its historical roots as an alternative to the Green Revolution. So defining the approach more objectively would help firmly anchor it in science, and TAPE can contribute there as well.

Evidently, what success looks like will depend on the agro-ecological context. It would make no sense to apply exactly the same criteria all over the globe. It would also contradict a basic principle of agro-ecology which is that it's supposed to be bottom up.

So it seems to me that the right way to define most precisely an agroecological product or system is to do so locally, based on minimum standards agreed with local food producers, traders and consumer organizations. This is for instance what Nicaragua has done with its Law for the Promotion of Agroecological and Organic Production (2011) followed by Mandatory Technical Standards approved and passed in 2013 to characterize, regulate and certify agroecological production units. Many countries have done the same, in an effort to promote agroecology through consumer education and food labelling.