Mariam Mayet is the director of the African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB). In a recent report, ACB turns their attention towards genetic modification of non-commercial ‘orphan crops’ and the way this technology is replacing farmer-managed food systems. In this interview Mariam explains what is wrong with genetic modification of these crops and where the real solutions lie.
Victor M. Toledo is a Mexican ethnoecologist and social activist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. His work focuses primarily on the study of agroecological and knowledge systems. In this interview, Victor M. Toledo explains why co-creation of knowledge is an integral part of agroecology and discusses the changes that are needed for this form of agriculture to gain ground in the global arena. He argues that agroecology is in itself a major shift in our relationship with knowledge.
In this interview, and four short videos, we asked four rural women leaders and activists from Asia and Africa about the role of women in agroecology. What we found were stories of race, caste, patriarchal systems, land grabbing, statelessness and, as an overriding theme, the lack of land ownership for women. These women are part of a larger coalition working to build rural women’s leadership. They believe that women organising amongst themselves to gain leadership skills and confidence is the first step to improving their livelihoods and fighting for their rights to land- so fundamental to agroecology.
All her working life, Elizabeth Peredo has been engaged in defending human and environmental rights. Until August 2015 she was the director of the Bolivian organisation Fundación Solón that aims to contribute to people living in harmony with each other in a world of solidarity, with respect for life and nature. From 2000 onwards she shifted her focus from the rights of domestic workers to water rights. “Our fight has become a worldwide model for struggles for water justice.”
“Healthy soils give family farmers autonomy, resilience and long-term productivity” - Interview with Irene Cardoso
“If you have a healthy, living soil, you have healthy plants and healthy people. These three things are closely linked.” Irene Cardoso, a professor of soil science at the Federal University of Viçosa and a member of ILEIA’s board is passionate about soils and family farmers. In her role as president of the Brazilian Agroecology Association, she advocates for greater support for family farmers to take better care of their soils. “Family farmers live from the soil, but they also live on the soil.”
Promoting the holistic nature of nutrition and its links with gastronomy is Luis Ginocchio’s ‘bread and butter’ as the expression goes. For Peru’s former minister of Agriculture, who also authored the book ‘Small farming and food’, it is an overriding interest. Gastronomy is defined as the practice of choosing, cooking, and eating good food, or the cookery of a particular region. Ginocchio links it directly to nutrition and local food production systems.
Baobab’s Anthony Mugo interviewed Dr. Geoffrey Kironchi, an expert on desertification.
Working as a sustainable land management specialist at the Centre for International Cooperation of the Free University in Amsterdam, and as a Senior Fellow at the World Resources Institute, in Washington, Chris Reij is the facilitator of “African Re-greening Initiatives”. This is a platform that supports farmers in the process of adapting to climate change and in developing more productive and sustainable farming systems. This platform was launched to help scale up the results of the efforts of those farmers and communities in Burkina Faso and Mali who have shown enormous success in the fight against desertification.