The 13 Principles Of Agroecology At WellFound

June 5, 2024

The 13 Principles of Agroecology at WellFound

Agroecology is the application of ecological principles to agricultural processes. The method has proven to transform food systems, agribusiness and wildlife diversity worldwide. WellFound always aims to work with the 13 Principles of Agroecology (1), to ensure sustainable farming that works hand in hand with agriculture. This article will explain how WellFound has adopted these Principles into ongoing projects and will show the effects of working with agroecological practices.


1. Recycling - Using local renewable resources and recycling nutrients and biomass. WellFound ensures that each community we work closely with gains a broad understanding of recycling, including knowledge on what can and cannot be recycled, and what is perishable and can be composted. We help communities create pits for safe waste disposal and encourage plastic recycling and the use of leftover vegetables for manure preparation.

2. Input reduction -
Reducing or eliminating dependency on purchased inputs to improve farming efficiency. Working side by side with WellFound volunteers, farmers are taught how to create their own crop fertilizer through implementing waste recycling. Farmers reduce their reliance on purchased fertilizer to grow healthy crops, while also improving soil health.

3. Soil health -
Securing and enhancing soil health to improve plant growth, particularly by managing organic matter. Within agricultural communities, WellFound encourages the practice of planting cover crops to improve the soil quality. Cover crops prevent erosion, inhibit weed growth, reduce soil compaction and improve water quality by preventing nutrient run-off and leaching. Locals are also encouraged to compost and add organic matter and aged manure into soil to increase its nutrient component.

4. Animal health -
Ensuring animal health and welfare through integration into agro-ecosystems. One crucial way our organisation helps animal health is by providing access to clean water troughs, especially in arid climates across West Africa. In the communities we support, we also teach locals important topics such as animal welfare, health and the importance of providing fresh vegetables to animals.

5. Biodiversity -
Preserving and enhancing the diversity of species, agriculture and resources in the agroecosystem over time and space at field, farm and landscape scales. Climate change is a huge factor damaging biodiversity across Africa, for this reason WellFound leads climate change workshops and teaches locals sustainable farming practices and the impact of deforestation. Certain villages are also taught about the impact of mangrove destruction and its effect on habitat loss, land erosion and community displacement.

6. Synergy -
Focusing on interactions between plants, animals, trees, soil and water to create a system that imitates and reinforces the complexity of nature. Through the creation of local wells, WellFound has enabled communities to efficiently irrigate their land, and provide water for flora and fauna and the community. Communities become able to restore the once-dried-out synergy of nature in their local environment by adding the missing element of water. 

7. Economic diversification
- Ensuring small-scale farmers have greater financial independence and value-addition opportunities while enabling them to respond to demand from customers. Through the WellFound Micro-savings Scheme, we have enabled local small business owners to pool in funds and create a small-scale lending initiative, allowing the community to support local business growth. Currently, numerous successful Micro-savings schemes are set up across Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau. We also teach individuals how to make a side income to help offset work seasonality, especially for those working in Cashew farms.

8. Co-creation of knowledge -
Enhancing co-creation and horizontal sharing of knowledge including local and scientific innovations, especially through farmer-to-farmer exchange. WellFound is a big advocate for community education. WellFound led numerous community seminars and demonstrations on sustainable farming practices. We encourage community leaders to promote co-working and co learning from all members of the community.

9. Social values and diets -
Building food systems based on culture, identity, tradition, and social and gender equality of local communities to provide healthy, diversified and cultural diets. WellFound has enabled locals to transform unused fertile land into flourishing Market Gardens, where locals harvest their fruits and vegetables, which not only benefits their health but also allows them to create more intricate cultural dishes and diversify their diets.

10. Fairness -
Supporting dignified and robust livelihoods for all actors engaged in food systems, especially small-scale food producers, based on fair trade, fair employment and fair treatment. When WellFound works with a rural community, we focus on educating locals about fair trade, treatment and reward. We also diversify the locals’ work portfolio by teaching various valuable skills like well and latrine construction, health and safety practices and teaching others.

11. Connectivity -
Ensuring proximity and confidence between producers and consumers through promotion of fair and short distribution networks and by re-embedding food systems into local economies. WellFound’s establishment of Market Gardens has allowed locals, especially the women in the community, to generate additional income by trading their crops with other locals, reducing overreliance on long-distance imports and trades, while also increasing confidence in the local society.

12. Land and natural resource governance -
Recognise and support the needs and interests of family farmers, smallholders and peasant food producers as sustainable managers and guardians or natural genetic resources. Through the Market Gardens scheme, locals are taught the benefits and importance of farming. Making community members responsible for pieces of local land provides them with a sense of recognition of work and duty of care to the land, creating a hospitable environment.

13. Participation -
Encouraging social organisations greater participation in decision-making by food producers and consumers to support decentralized governance and local adaptive management of agricultural and food systems. Before engagement with a new community, WellFound employs numerous methods to ensure mutual willingness to work together. For instance, locals are tasked with collectively gathering a small financial sum as a community contribution towards WellFound’s initiative. This proves their dedication and commitment. In this way, we can foster a more professional relationship, and trust and can have greater influence in local communities.

WellFound has effectively implemented all 13 Agroecology Principles, allowing us to maximise the impact of our work and ensure its sustainability. In response to the effects of global warming, WellFound’s agroecology techniques have boosted food production, soil fertility, water conservation, social values, community and wildlife health and prosperity. WellFound will keep integrating agroecology concepts into the way it operates.


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