World's small farmers meet to promote agroecology

Source: La Via Campesina

The global peasants movement, La Via Campesina (LVC) are holding a global encounter of agroecology trainers and peasant agroecology schools at the Community Agroecology Foundation in Surin, Thailand this week. The meeting is organized by the Assembly of the Poor of Thailand, an organization of urban and rural poor, small farmers, and workers and a member of LVC.

Peasant agroecology trainers from all over the world and representatives of the various farmers’ agroecology schools of LVC peasant movements are attending, to continue their efforts to promote agroecology on a global scale.

LVC is a strong proponent of sustainable peasants agriculture based on agroecology. Agroecology is a science, but is also seen as a movement, or practice which is concerned with farming methods that are based on peasants’ knowledge and local inputs, as well as nature’s own principles rather than external inputs and technologies that damage nature such as the green revolution model.

But LVC takes agroecology a step further than most, it is not just about ecological productive principles but also about social and political principles.

  • A feudal land holding cannot be considered agroecological even if it is chemical free.
  • A farm that is controlled only by men without any role and decision making power for women is not agroecological.
  • Neither is a so called organic farm which replaces expensive chemical inputs for expensive organic ones without touching the structure of monoculture.

LVC is not concerned with names or labels, whether agroecology, organic farming, natural farming, low external input sustainable agriculture, or others, but rather wants to specify the key ecological, social and political principles that the movement defends. For LVC, truly sustainable agriculture comes from the recovery of traditional peasant farming methods, and the innovation of new ecological practices.

The meeting in Thailand is a culmination of a series of continental level agroecology meetings that LVC has already organized in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas over the last four years. This has served the movement to consolidate and make a database of the various types of knowledge and expertise of local agroecological farming methods that are already practiced among peasant movements and to link up these experiences so that farmers organizations can share such knowledge with each other, not just nationally but especially regionally and globally.

Such farmer to farmers exchanges are very effective argues LVC, and farmers protagonism must be placed at the center of such efforts.

Cuba, for example, is a country that has transformed its chemical based production systems into agroecological integrated and diversified farming systems and spread it to more than one-third of all peasant families in Cuba, a remarkable rate of growth in less than ten years, possible only because of the farmer to farmer process and strong support to the small farmer movement.

There are countless such examples of successful farmer to farmer exchanges all over the world. LVC stresses the importance of organizing them well and engaging peasants organizations in order to scale them up. Many such examples will be shared at the Thailand agroecology encounter.

Besides various meetings, the participants will also visit local agroecological farmers in the Surin province of Thailand where the local hosts have taken a lead role in turning farmers fields from chemical to agroecological and have initiated programs on the ecological production of rice, herbs and also agroforestry. Such initiatives are a breakthrough in Thai agriculture which has mainly become dependent on the green revolution model.

On 12 November 12,  there will be a public forum at the Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok city, that aims to build alliances with different organizations and to promote LVC’s concepts of food sovereignty and sustainable peasants agriculture among the Thai public.

Another important process that will take place in Thailand is a global exchange between peasant’s agroecology schools. Peasant movements all over the world have different training processes, some are very informal, where there may not even be a building to call a school, and some are at advanced levels where even formal degrees are provided.

LVC schools are present in about 40 countries such as Venezuela, Brazil, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Argentina and others at initial stages in India and Indonesia among others. This will be the first time that a formal exchange will be conducted to strengthen links between these schools in order to exchange experiences. Such people-to-people exchanges of local alternatives are crucial to resist the mainstream development model which has caused serious social and environmental crisis as well as hunger.

Posted in Food and Farming, Via Campesina

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