Training of young peasant farmers goes online
News from Nicaragua | Thursday, 23 April 2020 |
Peasant agriculture fundamental to combatting hunger
‘In the strongest part of the pandemic, the first line of defence is health personnel …. and the second line is food production to confront hunger and the economic crisis of the people. In this context, it is fundamental to promote peasant agriculture: the Latin American Institutes of Agroecology (IALAs) play an important role in this. ’ Fausto Torres, Latin American Co-ordination of Rural Organisations (CLOC), La Via Campesina
On 15 April, in the context of the profound global crisis, forty students from Mexico, Central America and the Dominican Republic began a two year agroecology and food sovereignty course. The course is being run – initially online - by the Nicaraguan Rural Workers Association (ATC), and CLOC.
In November last year the first group of 22 students completed this course – an holistic approach of technical, and political training focused on agroecology as a means of achieving food sovereignty and transforming society. http://www.nicaraguasc.org.uk/news/article/405/Latin-America-Agroecology-Institute-(IALA)-sends-thanks-to-NSC
Overcoming the challenges of going virtual
The introduction to this year’s course will be a ‘virtual’ with students participating with their phones and through the internet. In the first month they will cover subjects such as permaculture and food sovereignty, soil management, native seeds, climate resilience and efficent use of water.
As Fausto Torres explains ‘We now have a special way of overcoming the challenges of not being able to meet face-to-face: e-learning platforms, chats, forums, and video conferencing using methods that are very paricipatory'. The course will also incorporate the use of school and community radio.
The failures of neoliberalism: rethinking development
This course is being implemented in the context of the profound global coronavirus pandemic, highlighting the failures of neoliberalism and the inequalities of unsustainable capitalism. As Fausto Torres points out the crisis means that we need to rethink what development means and ‘demand and provide comprehensive responses to the current crisis that address the causes of socio-ecological inconsistency that we are experiencing on our planet.’
Expanding the area of crops grown in harmony with nature
Fausto goes on to highlight the urgency of peasants joining together in a programme of integrated agroecological farming that would encompass livestock, forestry, fishing, aquaculture and grazing, improving infrastructure, facilitating access to rural financial services, investing in agroecological production by promoting increased productivity of land and work.
Transforming food systems
With UN agencies, governments and civil society organisations warning of looming food insecurity for millions of people it is clear more than ever why it is essential to restructure food systems within the principles of food sovereignty.
As the UK Landworkers Alliance https://landworkersalliance.org.uk/food-system-food-sovereignty/ (a member organisation of La Via Campesina) points out:
‘We need stronger action at all levels of society and government to lead a just transition towards a food system that: ensures everyone has access to healthy and affordable food; values workers and producers; localises supply chains; and uses agroecological farming principles to ensure that our farming methods contribute positively to the climate and biodiversity crises that we face.’
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