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.”
Interview > Antonio Lattuca is the director of the urban agriculture programme in the city of Rosario, 300 km northwest of Buenos Aires. It began as a response to the 2002 economic crisis in Argentina, building upon existing initiatives that promoted vegetable gardening among families and with schools. It is now one of the most successful urban agriculture initiatives in South America, connected to consumer groups, educational institutes, public policy and the gastronomy movement, and offers a great model that many are learning from.
“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.
Interview > Jeff Campbell - "Working together is a motivating and powerful approach to getting things done” says Jeff Campbell, manager of the Forest and Farm Facility. “This holds true for my own approach to life; for the work of the millions of forest and farm families stitching together complex livelihoods and ecosystems at a landscape level. Local indigenous peoples, smallholders, female farmers and forest dependent peoples have the knowledge and history, the culture and the potential to maintain and revitalise vibrant rural landscapes – we must trust and support them."
Interview > Cantave Jean-Baptiste is a Haitian agronomist and rural development practitioner with more than three decades of experience supporting sustainable agriculture and strengthening peasant organisations. He is Executive Director of Partenariat pour le Développement Local (PDL) in Haiti, and a founding member of Groundswell International. Farming Matters asked Mr Jean-Baptiste how family farmers can build resilience in Haiti, a country where an estimated 80% of the population lives in poverty.
Interview > Olivier De Schutter - “Agroecology is really common sense. It means understanding how nature works, to replicate the natural workings of nature on farms in order to reduce dependency on external inputs. Agroecology preserves the ability for future generations to feed themselves. I believe we should teach more about agroecology and encourage exchanges between farmers. We cannot continue in this impasse of an oil dependent food production system.”
Interview > Phrang Roy - “If you look at a map of global agrobiodiversity hotspots you soon realise that they are identical with indigenous people’s habitats. There are 370 million indigenous people in the world and they have been custodians of agrobiodiversity for millennia,” says Phrang Roy, co-ordinator of the Indigenous Partnership for Agrobiodiversity and Food Sovereignty. “Regretfully, their practices, such as shifting cultivation and their selection of socially relevant local crops and breeds, are not understood by many development workers, researchers or governments.”
Anthony Mugo interviewed John Njoroge, Director, Kenya Institute of Organic Farming (KIOF), on the benefits family farmers derive from adopting organic farming.
Interview > Deo Sumaj - About 23 years ago, in Santiago del Estero, a province in the north of Argentina, the Peasant Movement of Santiago del Estero Via Campesina (MOCASE -VC) was established. One of its leaders is Deo Sumaj, an impressive peasant woman of the Vilela indigenous people. “Peasant family farming could provide many answers to the crises that humanity faces.”
Interview > Meenakshi Singh - Having grown up and studied in the enormous city of Mumbai, India, Meenakshi Singh and Umesh Chandrasekhar were looking for an alternative way of life. After spending eight years farming organically in the district of Dharmapuri, in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, they decided to work with local farmers to help them convert to organic agriculture – through their children. They started the Puvidham Learning Centre, a school for children of nearby farmers and migrant labourers that aims to make the experiences at school relevant to children’s lives and to give value to the children’s own knowledge. Starting with seven children in 2000, 95 are now enrolled in their school.
Interview (June 2013) > Medius Bihunirwa is the head of the Farmer Enterprise Development Unit at Kabarole Research and Resource Centre (KRC), Uganda, where she works with smallholder farmers, enhancing the quality of their produce and improving their access to markets. In her role as member and researcher of the Hivos/IIED Knowledge Network, she has delved deeper into the concept of farmer agency and their interest in being part of a value chain.
Interview > Miguel Altieri (May 2013)- During a visit to an organic farm near Wageningen (the Netherlands), Miguel Altieri, Professor of Agro-ecology at the University of California, acknowledged that there are a lot of good intentions among farmers, but that they are restrained by the market which strongly demands "one type of potato".
Interview > Suprabha Seshan - In this interview Suprabha Seshan, an ecosystem gardener shares insights about ecological restoration in the Western Ghat Mountains in Kerala. "Natural forests are key to improving livelihoods in India".
Interview > Bancy Mati - System of Rice Intensification (SRI) is an efficient technology for rice-farming that was recently introduced in Kenya. It results in higher yields, requires less water and increases net incomes from rice production. The World Bank Institute describes SRI as: “a set of farming practices developed to increase productivity of land and water as well as resources.”A professor of land and water management, Bancy Mati, from Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), spearheaded the introduction of this technology in Kenya.
Interview > Norman Uphoff - Norman Uphoff, Professor Emeritus of Government and International Agriculture at Cornell University, served as director of the Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture, and Development (CIIFAD) from 1990 to 2005. During this time he became acquainted with the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) in Madagascar, and realised that “something unusual was going on” as farmers were obtaining average paddy yields of eight tons per hectare instead of their usual two tons. Recognising the huge potential benefits, he has been working ever since to promote the testing, evaluation and understanding of SRI. “People can overestimate my role as easily as they can underestimate it… the truth is that the actual work has been done by thousands of people around the world.”
Interview > Valdely Kinupp - Valdely Kinupp, professor at the Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology of Amazonas, talks about his work and life experience with Wild Edible Plants (WEP). He discusses the main obstacles, challenges and opportunities to enlarge the knowledge, use and consumption of WEP and how this can improve the biodiversity conservation.
Interview > Chris Reij - 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.
Interview > Elisabeth Atangana - As a farmer, the newly appointed FAO Special Ambassador for Co-operatives, Elisabeth Atangana, is familiar with farmer organisations at many different levels.
June 20, 2012: Interview > Georgina Koomson - CEO of Ideal Providence Farms in Ghana, member of IFOAM. She is a farmer herself, producing and exporting organic shea butter. She is in Rio at the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development with the IFOAM delegation.