July 1, 2018
Agroecology aims at developing sustainable farming and food systems, adapted to local contexts. Developing agroecological systems requires the engagement of local actors and the consideration of their knowledge. As the main field operator of the agroecological transition, farmers have a key role: they make the final decisions on their farms and they know the particularities of their farm. So far, research, farm advisory and policy have mainly shown interest in farming practices developed by farmers, neglecting other aspects of their work and life. Moreover, many actors other than farmers play a role in the agroecological transition, and they each have their own reasoning concerning this transition. Indeed, when making a decision about farming and food systems, local actors take into account different types of knowledge (empirical, technical, scientific, local, generic,), in different domains related to agroecology (economic, environmental, social, political). In this study, we analyzed the reasoning of diverse actors, including farmers, farm advisors, natural park managers and politicians. We conducted 33 semi-structured interviews, during which the local actors drew cognitive maps to explicit their reasoning concerning their agroecological transition. Their reasoning revealed an unexpected emphasis on the importance of human abilities and social life in the success of agroecological transition. These results enable to better characterize the “social” aspects in agroecology, including both internal aspects such as one’s values, feelings and capacities and external aspects such as relationship management and the capacity of different actors to work together.