Grantees and Funded Projects
From Bhutan to Ghana to Brazil, Grantees are on the Frontline of the Agroecology Movement.
Global Exchanges to Protect Local Seeds and Food Systems
Lead Organization: La Via Campesina
Partners: ETC and GRAIN
Award: $200,000 over 24 months
In late 2013 and early 2014, La Via Campesina (LVC) was supported by GRAIN and ETC to hold continent-wide training workshops in Nicaragua and Zimbabwe for peasant organizations on threats posed by seed laws and treaties. The Chilean women’s farmers organization Anamuri, a member of LVC, was a leading force in stopping a seed law in Chile. Data and analysis from GRAIN and ETC were crucial. The funded collaborative prepared a popular education booklet, online map, poster and dataset for global distribution, which explains the dangers of the laws and the emerging resistance.
Protection of traditional seed systems was aided by support to LVC peasant agroecology schools in Latin America, Asia, North American and Africa (including 4 new schools in Mali, Niger, Mozambique and Zimbabwe). To increase small farmer voice, LVC, with support from GRAIN and ETC, played a key role in organizing a meeting with Pope Francis, the Justice and Peace Council and the Academy of Sciences of the Vatican to discuss the concerns and aspirations of social movements seeking to transform the global food system. LVC published and distributed 68 documents in 2013 and 2014, covering agroecology, seeds, biodiversity, GMO’s and climate change. LVC has ensured that all 9 regions in which it works have gender parity in leadership and international delegations, thereby influencing how national and local peasant organizations and national policies deal with gender issues.
Scaling Farmer-led Agroecology in West Africa
Lead Organization: Groundswell International
Partners: ANSD (Burkina Faso), CIKOD (Ghana), Sahel Eco (Mali), Food First (USA) and ILEIA (Netherlands)
Award: $200,000 over 24 months
With support from Groundswell International, partners in Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Mali furthered West Africa’s agroecology movement in significant ways. In Ghana, Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) – a drought resilience agroforestry technique – gained traction through CIKOD’s work with traditional chieftaincy authorities in the Lawra and Nandom districts. Volunteer Tree Promotors (VTPs) trained 1,050 men and women farmers, the majority of whom have adopted agroecology practices in 10 target communities. CIKOD combined grounded, community level extension work with a national level campaign – in collaboration with the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) and Action Aid Ghana - to suspend the passage of the pro-GMO, Plant Breeder’s Bill.
In Burkina Faso, ANSD trained sixty farmer volunteers to undertake on-farm experimentation with agro-ecological techniques in 60 villages. At least 1,778 farmers, including 571 women, applied FMNR on their farms. Sahel Eco, ANSD and CIKOD have formed a West Africa agroecology network which has been accepted as a member of the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA), a continent-wide coalition. The network contributes to regional and continent-wide advocacy work through its grounded work with farmers. Learnings were disseminated widely by Food First and ILEIA’s magazine, Farming Matters, which is distributed world-wide in 5 languages.
Political Awakening of Women Farmers in South Korea
The Korean Women Peasant Association (KWPA) was founded in 1989 to empower and unite women farmers and resist neoliberal agricultural policies in South Korea. KWPA is an active member of Via Campesina, raising voices and perspectives of women farmers and small producers in movement spaces. In 2012, KWPA was awarded the prestigious World Food Sovereignty Prize for their pioneering work to organize women farmers in South Korea and amplify the dialogue and practice of sustainable agriculture.
In 2012, AEF gave a grant of $85,000 for a collaboration between KWPA and Via Campesina to document successful case studies of agroecology, traditional farming and native seeds in Korea. The grant also supported a national tour of researchers and agroecology practitioners and train women farmers in ecological farming techniques. The grant supported the group to set up demonstration sites to showcase agroecological practices to train women farmers. KWPA members also traveled to Thailand and Indonesia for capacity building and sharing of experiences. Women members also set up 12 sites for the collective and storage of native seed varieties.
Strengthening the Capacity of the Zimbabwe Seed Sovereignty Movement
Nelson Mudzingwa was raised in the rural Midlands Province in Zimbabwe. “Both my parents were peasant farmers and managed to send me to school through peasant agriculture,” shared Nelson. “After graduation, the college principal nominated me to join the Natural Farming Network for ZImbabwe on an apprenticeship. This was a blessing in disguise as this allowed me to return to my roots of peasant agriculture.”
Nelson has devoted decades to strengthening agroecology programs in Zimbabwe and raising the visibility of biocultural diversity, conservation and traditional knowledge systems, while rooting these in the culture and cosmovision of local peasant communities. He is one of the innovators of the Shashe Agroecology School that facilitates farmer-to-farmer training for agroecology. Nelson has been integral to creating powerful networks in Africa that are advocating for the rights and livelihoods of small-holder farmers, such as the Eastern and Southern Africa Smallholder Farmers Forum (ESAFF) and Zimbabwe Smallholder Farmers Forum (ZIMSOFF). These networks are also members of La Via Campesina, the world’s largest social movement of small food producers, women, indigenous peoples, pastoralists and fisherfolks.
Nelson is part of a collaboration with seven NGOs that work with smallholder farmers across Zimbabwe. This AgroEcology Fund supported-project will strengthen community-based seed growers, raise national understanding of seed-related laws, policies and practices, help farmers advocate for policy change to protect seed sovereignty, and contribute to research and best practices for local, biodiverse seed systems.