DÉVELOPPER L’AGRO-ÉCOLOGIE POUR ASSURER L’AUTONOMIE ALIMENTAIRE ET UN LIEN DURABLE HOMME / NATURE
Pierre Rabhi interroge l’industrialisation galopante de l’agriculture et ses pratiques intensives qui n’assurent pourtant pas l’autonomie alimentaire, et au contraire participent à la rupture du lien entre homme et nature et à l’appauvrissement des sols. Ainsi, afin de rétablir les équilibres sociaux et environnementaux, tout en permettant de nourrir durablement la planète, Pierre Rabhi créé un modèle de développement agricole et rural alternatif en s’appuyant sur les ressources locales, pour rétablir et pérenniser les équilibres naturels. Il forme des formateurs et des agriculteurs à l’agro-écologie en France et en Afrique pour permettre d’augmenter sainement la productivité agricole. Pierre Rabhi mobilise les populations et propose d’adopter des modes de vie et de consommation qui respectent l’homme et la nature.
Plusieurs grands projets-pilotes ont démontré l’impact social et environnemental de l’agro-écologie (Les Amanins, etc.). Aujourd’hui ce sont plus de 150 000 agriculteurs qui ont été formés en France et en Afrique de l’Ouest. Le mouvement Colibris, mouvement citoyen en marche pour changer les pratiques de tous, créé sous l’impulsion de Pierre Rabhi fédère des milliers de personnes partout en France.
QUI EST-IL ?
Pierre Rabhi est né en Algérie et rejoint la France en 1954. Après une expérience d’ouvrier dans l’industrie à Paris, il s’installe en Ardèche où il devient agriculteur et expérimente l’agroécologie. Auteur, philosophe et conférencier, il appelle à “ l’insurrection des consciences “ pour fédérer ce que l’humanité a de meilleur.
Changes in farming practices have had severe environmental and public health impacts, including the spread of the mad-cow disease, dioxin chicken and the gaucho scandal (pesticide infected bees), among others. The massive industrialization of the agricultural sector along with rapid growth in productivity has ironically fuelled overproduction and forced the French government and European Union to create compensatory mechanisms.
Evolutions in agricultural landscapes have led to dramatic social consequences. For instance, the French countryside has lost 70 percent of its population; entire villages have become isolated and now lack the basic social resources to steward their land. Alienated relationships with nature and a growing urbanization have dissolved traditional social systems and have led to the individualization of society, driving consumerist patterns and inflating negative environmental impacts.
French farmers are not the only population confronting evolving agriculture problems. In the developing world, rural populations represent 75 percent of the poor, and most of them struggle to produce enough to feed their families. Since the 1960s, while Latin America and Asia were undergoing a “green revolution” and dramatically increasing their ability to cover their nutritional needs, African farmers were left in limbo between traditional, small-unit, under-productive farms, that suffered from difficult climatic and political conditions and the development of large-scale export industries such as cocoa and coffee. In the late 1970s and 1980s the African continent began receiving increasing amounts of development aid, but the methodologies used were doomed to failure since they failed to account for the specificities of the local context.
Pierre initially worked as a trainer in France and Africa through the Center for Applied Rural Studies and Trainings (CEFRA). Later, by way of the many organizations and training programs helped create in France and across West Africa, he encouraged farmers to embrace agroecology practices. To this day, he specifically targets farmers on small and medium-sized farms who are suffering directly from the consequences of chemical farming and poor land management, which damage their soil and make them dependent on seed and fertilizer manufacturers. Pierre’s trainings facilitate their understanding of the logic, practice and philosophy of agroecology through which they can find an ethical balance between profitability and sustainability.
His self-learning methods has proven particularly effective in Africa, where oral traditions are strongest and farmers need to appropriate changes in order to adopt them. Pierre’s work began in Burkina Faso where Pierre’s pioneer center in Gorom trained over 90,000 farmers between 1985 and the late 1990s; a method then generalized through the creation of CIEPAD, a Platform to Facilitate the Exchanges and Diffusion of applied Best Practices for Development. Pierre has in particular leveraged CIEPAD to influence information campaigns and identify and train partner organizations to spread agroecology in Morocco, Palestine, Algeria, Tunisia, Senegal, Togo, Benin, Mauritania, Poland, Ukraine and Romania.
Since opening centers and launching training programs is cost and labor intensive, Pierre has begun to invest in multiplier effects. In France, for instance, his Terre & Humanisme onsite training programs are paired with the actions of his Movement pour la Terre et l’Humanisme, which engages local correspondents across France in spreading information and supporting local farmers in adopting and respecting the principles of agroecology. For his Africa focus, Pierre is currently developing a foundation to be the repository of agroecological techniques and to animate a network of locally identified, trained and labelled farms and farmers.
His dream seemed suddenly within reach when he met Pierre Richard, a rural doctor and social entrepreneur who was establishing the Cevennes National Park. Inspired by his work and by the beautiful aridity of the Ardèche region, Pierre started a farming apprenticeship. Through hard work and new friends, he acquired an isolated farm and transformed his arid land into a sustainable, high-yielding farm.
Because mainstream farming practices that involved pesticides and chemical fertilizer to increase yields contradicted his beliefs and personal philosophy, Pierre chose to listen to the land, learn from the elders and balance traditional practices with modern agronomical techniques. Over the next few years, he successfully broke away from surrounding industrial production to develop and apply agroecological principles, all of which helped his farm become one of the most productive in the area.
Pierre’s impact on the work, lives and well-being of hundreds of thousands of farmers across France and Africa has triggered a growing and broad public awareness of the possibility to balance one’s way of life through sustainable compromises between the opportunities of consumption and modern society and the quest for personal, social and environmental equilibriums. Complementing his work as a social entrepreneur, Pierre has gained recognition as a philosopher and public figure and used his name and his vision to inspire tens of thousands of people to change their way of life way beyond the agricultural sector.
Furthermore, Pierre has launched citizen movements to engage people in concrete causes they can act upon. For instance, Oasis en Tous Lieux (An Oasis in Any Place) mobilizes people to create eco-villages and “éco-hameaux” across France, places of ecological balance and environmental autonomy. Also, Mouvement Appel pour l’Insurrection des Consciences (MAPIC) is an activist movement attempting to mobilize people to live around basic principles of equality, sustainability and fairness, and reject practices against these principles. Today, at the age of 71, Pierre still travels the world several days a week to spread his vision and has recently embarked on the creation of his foundation, which will work to utilize principles of agroecology in rural communities across Africa and the world.