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Solidarity in the time of coronavirus

NSC News | Sunday, 5 April 2020 |

Agroecology student;building local, resilient, diverse food systems

Agroecology student;building local, resilient, diverse food systems

NSC solidarity with the Association of Rural Workers (ATC)

‘In these times of profound international crisis we recognise that it is critical that we don’t fall into the trap of being overcome by fear and panic, but adapt and organise using all the means at our disposal and above all, maintaining communication in the spirit of mutual political and moral solidarity.’ Msg from NSC to ATC on the occasion of the ’virtual’ celebration of the ATC’s 42nd anniversary.

‘I want to send you our solidarity in this difficult moment of very grave planetary crisis …I send greetings on behalf of the Association of Trabajadores del Campo (ATC), member of Latin American Co-ordination of Rural Organisations (CLOC) and the international movement La Via Campesina.’ Fausto Torres, ATC, 23 March, 2020

Since May, 2019 NSC has been working in solidarity with the ATC, a 47,000 member organisation working in two related areas:

  • promoting that the struggle for political, economic, social, and climate justice focusing on land rights, agroecology, and food sovereignty
  • defending the rights of agricultural workers in the banana, coffee, and tobacco industries.

The ATC has training centres for community leaders in employment rights, agroecological farming, political and community organising, and food sovereignty. One key area is training the next generations of campesinxs from across Central America in the Nicaragua Latin America Institute for Agroecology (IALA).

For further information about the work of the ATC see Friends of the ATC

The ATC is a founder member of La Via Campesina an international social movement representing over 200 million peasants, small farmers, agricultural workers, and indigenous peoples.

La Via Campesina statement on food production and sovereignty in the context of the coronavirus

…’this deadly virus has exposed the vulnerability of the globalised food system dominated by industrial agriculture, and the dangers it poses to all life forms. We should learn from this crisis and invest in building local, resilient and diverse food systems’.

ATC priorities in the coming months

Within the limitations caused by the pandemic the ATC has prioritised the following:

Maintaining food production is critical. Because of well co-ordinated initiatives by the government working with organisations that make up the social economy including the ATC, Nicaragua produces about 80% of the food it consumes. (The equivalent figure in the UK is about half).

Shifting to working remotely: All ATC and CLOC regional meetings and seminars are being held by phone, skype, zoom, and webinars, a major challenge given that many particularly older members do not have access to the necessary technology. The induction for the next intake of 25 IALA will take place by webinar but the course itself has been postponed.

Maintaining the momentum of international solidarity with regional and international La Via Campesina organisations and solidarity activism in North America through Friends of the ATC and in UK through NSC.

Participating in Ministry of Health (MINSA) community mobilisations raising awareness of measures to prevent and control the spread of coronavirus

NSC solidarity with the Association of Rural Workers (ATC)

NSC started solidarity work with the ATC in 2019 with the aim of raising awareness in the UK of the ATC agroecology programme as a practical example of confronting climate change and building food sovereignty and building solidarity links with UK organisations such as the Land workers Alliance who share a common vision. In addition we aim to raise funds for ATC programmes.

Activities postponed

Two key activities were planned in the coming months: a UK speaker tour in June by two ATC representatives and promoting a Friends of the ATC agroecology and food sovereignty delegation to Nicaragua in July focusing on ATC plans to establish an agroecological corridor. The former has been postponed to later in the year and a decision is yet to be taken about the latter.

Activities planned

Fundraising: In 2019 we circulated an appeal to cover NSC’s costs for UK solidarity work with the ATC and for ATC funds to support IALA. These funds were transferred to the ATC in November and used to help covered the costs of the IALA students practicums. A further US$700 was sent to Nicaragua in March and will be used to repair the irrigation system at IALA, essential for the next agroecology programme. Our fundraising will continue throughout 2020.

Communications: To maintain the momentum of our solidarity work we will work with Friends of the ATC to publish news updates, articles and testimonies about the work of the ATC related to agroecology, food sovereignty and climate change.

…finally, what could be more appropriate in these times of crisis than La Via Campesina slogan: Globalise struggle, globalise hope!