Nourishing the Planet, a Worldwatch Institute project, “assesses the state of agricultural innovations with an emphasis on sustainability, diversity, and ecosystem health, as well as productivity.”
At the Nourishing the Planet blog, Jenna Baning writes about five groups of farmers in Africa who are sharing their problems and finding that the group has more solutions than the individuals.
1. Africa Rice Center “has been developing learning tools that focus on reaching as many farmers as possible … One powerful method has been farmer-to-farmer videos, which feature local experts sharing their knowledge about seed drying and preservation, rice quality, and soil management.”
2. Self-employed Women’s Association (SEWA), “a member-based Indian trade union that brings together approximately 1.3 million poor, self-employed women workers. … These women meet monthly in groups across the country to discuss challenges they are facing and identify possible solutions. SEWA’s Village Resource Centers connect the farmers with agricultural supplies, including improved seeds and organic fertilizers, as well as trainings.”
3. Songtaab-Yalgré, a rural women’s association that began “by teaching each other how to read and write in their local language. After gaining this basic, but critical skill, the organization then found ways to boost members’ incomes by producing shea butter products.”
4. Ecova – Mali was founded by two former Peace Corps Volunteers in 2007 because they saw that local people were better at training other local people than foreigners were. It “runs a training center and testing ground 35 kilometers (22 miles) outside of Bamako, Mali’s capital, as well as provides small grants to local farmers.”
5. The First Annual Conference of Indigenous Terra Madre, “a network launched by Slow Food International in 2004, focuses on protecting and promoting improved education, biodiversity, and connections between food producers and consumers. In June 2011, 200 representatives from 50 indigenous communities around the world met in Jokkmokk, Sweden, for the first-ever Indigenous Terra Madre Conference.
“The meeting, hosted by the native Arctic people known as the Sámi, and organized in partnership with Slow Food Sápmi and Slow Food International, discussed food sovereignty issues, the importance of preserving traditional knowledge for future generations, and ways to involve indigenous people and local communities in policy decision making and implementation.
“Small-scale farmers and indigenous people around the world shared their experiences and the solutions they had developed in response to the challenges they faced in common. As TahNibaa Naataanii, a participant in the meeting from the US-based Navajo Sheep Presidium, described, ‘We hear stories of the same thing that is happening in our own countries and own lands, and it gives us hope.’ ”
Photograph: Noor Khamis/Reuters/File
A farmer sets rice seedlings into paddy fields in Kirinyaga district, about 62 miles southeast of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. The Africa Rice Center helps farmers share solutions to problems with each other.
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