French environmentalist Pierre Rabhi dies aged 83

Paris (AFP) – French environmentalist and author Pierre Rabhi died Saturday aged 83, his family said Saturday.


The organic farmer and nature lover, whose admirers included French actress Marion Cotillard, suffered a brain a haemorrhage, his son Vianney said.

Born in 1938 on the edges of the Algerian Sahara when it was still part of a French colony, he grew up to become a pioneer of agro-ecology, or sustainable farming that seeks to rejuvenate nature without the use of pesticides or chemicals.

In the 1980s, he travelled repeatedly to sub-Saharan Africa as he sought to apply his ideas there.

He was friends with Burkina Faso's radical leader Thomas Sankara, an idealistic army captain who wanted to eradicate poverty in his country.

In 2002, he attracted media attention when he made a failed bid to become a presidential candidate. He said he did it to spark debate about "the ecological and human urgency".

"Agriculture needs to be reformed. We can't have a system that, under the pretext of producing, destroys and pollutes," Rabhi said in 2012.

"We see the planet as a deposit of resources that need to be transformed into dollars, and depleted down to the last fish and last tree, instead of seeing it as an extraordinary oasis where we could create a life with more meaning and value."